The Value of Social Listening

As advertisers, we’re often called upon to ‘mind read’ what consumers want/need, along with the most effective way to reach them. The secret tool in our back pocket that helps us do this? Social listening.

Knowing what your audience is thinking and feeling is key when it comes to finding a way to resonate with them. As advertisers, we’re often called upon to ‘mind read’ what consumers want/need, along with the most effective way to reach them. The secret tool in our back pocket that helps us do this? Social listening.

Social listening is keep a close eye on what’s being said (by news, any social platform known to man) about a certain topic or brand. It also means analyzing what you find, in order to get a better understanding of what environment (emotional, cultural, etc) you’re operating in. Having a strong handle on this, and taking care to engage in it consistently, has multiple benefits for advertisers. When planning a large campaign or announcement, being able to gauge the general mindset of consumers helps you navigate your rollout. For example, knowing that people are excited for an upcoming event could be exactly the insight you need to announce a new partnership with the event hosts.

Follow the Crowd (Sometimes)

People are above all emotional beings, and social listening is an important tool when it comes to planning launches and announcements. After months of us carefully tracking what people were saying and feeling, CIBC announced their partnership with Canada Soccer. Our multi-month long deep dive helped us give sound advice on the best time to announce the partnership.  As soon as fans were feeling their most positive and excited about the World Cup, the partnership messaging and execution was released. Soccer fans are extremely passionate about experiencing the game with community, along with growing the game here in our home country. With this “a ha,” CIBC was able to execute in ways that fans truly appreciated, such as hosting watch parties and donating scarves to local soccer clubs.

Social listening is a great way to keep an eye (and ear) on what consumers are thinking and feeling in real time. There’s tons of fantastic examples of brands taking advantage of pop culture moments to create buzz-worthy content that really owns the “of-the-moment” conversation. Especially when dealing with meme-savvy millennials and Gen Z, keeping on top of what’s trending on Twitter and TikTok is a good way to make sure your content is relevant. With younger generations less loyal to specific media types than previous gens, it’s more important than ever for your content to hit home, every time.

Maintain #Relatability Platform to Platform

Being aware of what your audience’s interests are through social listening helps ensure that you’re making relatable content that they’ll care about. For example you wouldn’t tweet about a football fumble if you know that your primary target is far more interested in the latest House of the Dragon episode! While both moments might be a trending cultural moment, pick and choose what works for you.

Seeing how audiences differ between platforms is another hugely valuable aspect of social listening. When working with a food brand, we learned through social listening that their Facebook audience was most receptive to community centered and heritage content, while their Instagram audience was younger, and preferred posts centered around all-skill level friendly dinner recipes. Therefore, social listening helped us decide what content to prioritize on what platform. If you’re operating in multiple countries this is doubly important to keep in mind, as different countries have different consumption habits, platform preferences, and humour.

Crisis: Averted

Averting disaster is another valuable aspect of social listening that can’t be emphasized enough. No matter how fantastic a campaign, or deep rooted a partnership, if something unforeseen happens (such as a major scandal) you’ll want to press pause as soon as possible, and keep in line with what’s best for your brand. It’s also a good way to get ahead of consumer complaints. Being pro-active and offering refunds or offering troubleshooting solutions to consumers in need, like Spotify’s Tech Support channel, lets your brand be perceived as one who understands and meets consumer needs.

(Non) Doom-Scrolling

While there are a wide range of programs and tools to make it easier than ever to pick up on trends, don’t underestimate the importance of manually searching as well. While tools such as Meltwater are great at giving overall sentiment, and tracking volume and mentions over a period of time, manually searching through Instagram comments and Reddit threads might reveal the insight you need to move your strategy forward. Technology is a fantastic tool, but the key to getting the most out of social listening is to be able to understand the wants and needs behind what people are saying: and no AI is there (not yet at least).

How do you use social listening in your work? DM us on Instagram and let us know.