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It’s time for a reset: how to create demand for social insight

Jeremy Hollow
Mar 16, 2021 9:09:06 AM

The last 12 months have been marked by difficulties for marketing and research departments the world over. The economic downturn caused by Covid-19 has forced many to not only reconsider their budgets but more profoundly, their very ways of working.

However, crises can make us hungry for change. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. When trying to understand post-Covid consumers, some brands are pressing the reset button on how they use social data. They’re going beyond the first wave, where the analysis was driven by the dashboard. Instead, they’re deploying more advanced tech stacks (e.g. audience segmentation) and, importantly, integrating a more qualitative approach to creating insights.

Beyond what

Social insight remains underutilised, despite the surge in social media activity during the pandemic. Most businesses continue to rely on traditional market research, overlooking the fact that people simply don’t talk to researchers in the same way as they talk to each other. Social data analytics takes one step towards bridging these issues. However, while analytics can map ‘what’ users are sharing on social, it struggles to uncover the ‘why’. And with listening tools becoming commonplace, this data carries little competitive value. For companies to get ahead and gain that most rare and sought-after of customer insights – the ‘why’, they need to look deeper.

Find the human, find the why

Conversations are made up of a complex and subtle mixture of words. Humans, rather than machines, are essential to capture the richness of language, inseparable from the human experience itself. The demand for human analysis of social data is rapidly growing, as more and more businesses realise that valuable, actionable insights rely on the cultural, linguistic, political and societal expertise of the analyst interpreting the data. It’s this that lets them find the humanity in the data, that rich vein of experience, emotion and opinion that helps them understand what motivates people.

You need to book six new meetings

So, in this brave new, emerging-from-Covid-world, the owners of social data should be looking to press the reset on their stakeholder’s expectations. What was dull and superficial, has been brought to life, made vibrant. Richer audience intelligence and deeper, qualitative social insights mean that much more is possible. The potential of social data is here.

It’s time to reach out to stakeholders in strategy, comms, product development (among others). To create demand for social insights by showing them it can help them...

  1. Strategise. This is for brands who want to set the right course. It’s using social data to help you understand your position in the world and the potential for growth. It’s about inspiring your strategy and brand positioning. Developing the right proposition, identifying market challenges and opportunities, and targeting the right audiences. See here for a case study on how AXA PPP learnt to engage more effectively with its audience.
  2. Find purpose. Beliefs, values and ethics have never mattered more to consumers than they do today. Many expect companies to tangibly contribute towards making a better society, beyond simply providing a commercial service. Social insights enable companies to better understand what their employee and consumer audiences expect of them, helping them to align their mission and conduct - with the desires of their audience.
  3. Innovate. This is for people who want to get to market at the right time. Not too early. Not too late. Social is where innovators and their audiences come together. It’s this that helps you understand when to invest, pivot, or adapt. It’s about using social insights to help you spot the green shoots – discover new trends in consumer attitudes and behaviours. It’s about reacting sooner - so that you can meet changing demand with the right offer at the right time.
  4. Communicate. Social insight should be helping your creative output be as effective as possible. Social is life unplugged. It’s raw, immediate and natural. Insight from social can prime your creative work by getting you closer to how people feel and how they interact with each other. It’s about using social to help you talk to your target audience in a way they’ll want to hear and remember. Read here how the British Red Cross used this to help them communicate more effectively.
  5. Improve. Brands need to know what customers are saying about their products, services and customer experience in order to act and improve. Social can help you understand how people really experience what you do. It’s insight into what it’s like to use your products or experience your services. It’s the insight you need to iterate, to improve. It’s about understanding what’s broken and how to fix it. It’s finding what’s working and amplifying it.
  6. Appeal. This is about using social intelligence to help get noticed. It’s about using social data to understand where, how and why people buy. It’s the new path to purchase and decision making. It’s about how people use online and social to buy and just who’s influencing them. It’s about making it easier for people to find and buy from you. It’s about expanding your influence and being where your customers are looking.

Listen + Learn Research works with social data to help brands deliver positive commercial results in each of these areas. As one of the first to embrace a more ‘human’, qualitative approach to social data, we’ve seen time and again how powerful social data can be. If you’re thinking of pressing the reset button we’d be happy to share our experiences with you.

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