Market Research has evolved, propelled largely by the development of technology, the proliferation of data and a broader consumer reach. The shift from stores to online shops and the social media boom have enlarged business’ frontiers, literally and figuratively. This shift has also created new ways for brands to identify themselves, position themselves as unique in the market and truly engage with their customers. We could even argue that this new landscape has greatly increased expectations regarding market understanding, customer relations and overall marketing performance.

For a long time, marketers have used primary research – surveys, observations, interviews etc. – as one of their main ways to keep in touch with customers. Today, Marketing Analytics adds an even deeper dimension. Social media listening combines technology, data and analytics to become the latest addition to the marketing toolbox. You don’t have to ask a single direct question, yet you still get a wealth of rich insights garnered from social media listening tools and services. Online users routinely share their independent reviews, their comments and concerns about brands, even their unfiltered experiences. The emerging topics and recurring themes should be of great interest to any marketer.

Advantages of Using Social Media Data

Here are five benefits of making social media listening a part of your marketing strategy:

  1. It’s legit. The data is made up of users’ own comments. It is entirely genuine, an excellent source of significant insights on what motivates consumer behavior.
  2. It’s accessible. Social media data can easily be extracted through tools like Radian 6, Brandwatch, and others. Social media listening services are also a good approach.
  3. It’s fast. Any new campaign, marketing activity, or product launch can get near-instant feedback from your social media accounts.
  4. It’s broad. On the basis of social media data, you can see a demographic analysis of brand positioning and performance.
  5. It’s deep. Sentiments & recurring themes about the products or services can be extracted by using analytics techniques like sentiments analysis & text analytics

The next logical question is, How do I get started? Here are five places you can choose as your entrée into this great new capability.

Four Types of Social Media Conversations that are a ‘Must-Hear’

Marketers love their keywords when it comes to online advertising. In social media listening, keywords again play an important role. Choosing the right keywords can give you remarkably exact data. Once you zero in on the type of keyword – broad ones for your category, precise ones for your brand – you’re on your way to social media listening.

Here are four types of social media conversations that can be used to extract rich consumer insights:

  • Category-Level Conversations: Category-level data helps you know the trends in the market; category-level conversations are like real-time market information generators. The topics are broad: hair, pizza, cars. Just focus in on your category and look for themes. If hair styling is your category, conversations let you know what kind of content and dialogues are being based around hair, hair color trends, style, etc. These topics become your themes. When carefully studied, these themes can improve your campaign-based category data insights.
  • Brand-Level Conversations: These conversations are specifically based on a single brand name, such as Tata tea or Hershey’s chocolate. Sentiments & major themes can be extracted through sentiment analysis, topic modeling & text analytics for brand Focus on brand-level conversations when you want to find data for measuring brand equity, analyzing brand recognition, and gauging brand marketing effectiveness.
  • Product-level Conversations: A lot of social media users post product reviews and recommend their favorites. For Example, data can be analyzed for Kwality Wall’s range of Ice –cream products (Cornetto, Carte D’or & Magnum etc.) to see which product or flavor is most or least popular among users. Zeroing in on data based on the product name will help your organization see product performance and market popularity. User feedback can show you how to enhance your product (or service) as well.
  • Competitor-level conversations: Digging up data about your competitors clues you into their overall performance in the market. If Cadbury is main brand then it can measure the performance of its competitors like Mars, Hershey’s & Godiva etc. to analyze their campaigns, mentions, brand presences, engagement levels and other key areas.

There is still a place for your trusted primary and secondary research methods, but social listening uses analytics and machine learning to take it to a whole new. Social media listening is a worthy addition to your marketing playbook because it can deliver results in real time. It can act as a supporting pillar to your overall marketing plan, giving you quick insights into feasibility, customer mindsets and the market as a whole.

Authored by Richa Kapoor, Marketing Manager at Absolutdata and Anamika Gupta, Sr. Analyst – Social Media Analytics at Absolutdata