What online listening can do for your company

1. Discover how people understand and engage with your brand

The nature of traditional advertising agency focus groups places a narrow lens on the types of insights that can be obtained. People Participating are generally aware of their role in the process, placed in an unnatural setting, and asked to answer a limited field (framed) of questions tailored to their study. Online listening functions without those framed limitations, as brands can learn what people are saying in candid conversations occurring in natural environments, on their terms. This means you can uncover sentiments and trends that may have gone unnoticed through traditional research.

2. It’s not about waiting for answers – it’s about learning in real time

Traditional research often operated on several months delay given the time and resources needed to plan, conduct, and collect data, not to mention the high price for this kind of market research – therefore brands conducted this type of research less frequently. Marketers who rely solely on traditional “old school” research risk acting on stale insights. So much can change within your audience’s mindset, your category, and the broader culture in the blink of an eye. Online listening can keep pace with the fast and furious nature of today’s marketing landscape thanks to sophisticated tools that leave more time for human-powered analysis.

3. Listening means monitoring within a larger environment

Individual brands exist within bigger communities of competing products and businesses fighting for attention. Online listening can paint a picture of the broader environment and determine how specific brands fit within it. The average person gets thousands of brand messages a day. Beyond competing with rivals in your category, you also compete with a broader range of brands competing eagerly for attention in the crowded digital space. Listening can also introduce you to new opportunities for strategic partnerships with companies you might not have considered before, opening the doors to unforeseen possibilities.

4. Visualize your audience as human beings, not just consumers

Who is your audience apart from being “consumers?” How do they describe themselves? What are their hobbies, interests and passions? Marketers can take a closer look at public conversations to develop and identify tribes. By gathering publically accessible information from sources such as Facebook and Twitter bio pages, as well as connecting with blogs, Tumblr feeds, etc, marketers can paint a clearer picture of a person’s daily life. By cross-referencing this data, you can build profiles to be grouped into behavioural or psychographic “tribes.” so for example, if you find that your company service/product resonates with a certain demographic (e.g. 18 to 34 year-old women), online listening might also reveal that the brand is specifically favourite among music fans and foodies. This kind of knowledge helps tap deeper into consumer psyche and generates ideas for how best to engage the relevant tribe with messaging.

5. Spot emerging trends in customer behavior

Social media overlaps with culture and people. It’s never been easier to understand shifts in user behavior in near-real time. The most straightforward way to spot shifts in behaviour is to listen to what topics of conversation, and follow where they are having those conversations across the web. Understanding how those with online dominance are leading culture is another way to track trends that already appeal to wider audiences.

6. Work alongside traditional research approaches to hone in on why and how new trends develop

Given the popularity of short-form status updates like Twitter, it can be challenging for marketers to determine why people feel a certain way about a product, or why they chose to purchase a specific company to follow. For example, an individual might say “I love brand X”, but unfortunately they don’t often provide more detail as to why.

There are various ways other than online listening to gain deeper insights on emotional connection and a customer’s path to purchase. One is to simply ask them, either through an opt-in survey or a more in-depth qualitative interview.

New technology has enabled marketers to easily collect public conversations but, as the volume of information available to businesses increases, an approach supported on human-powered analysis is critical to piece together the deeper meanings behind the outpour of real-time information.

Online listening has emerged as a critical tool for companies and brands to collect insights about people and culture in unprecedented ways. These insights, deeper and more rounded than traditional findings — can shape marketing strategies in ways that allow you to provide better experiences to people, within your advertising and beyond.

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