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With so much information about social listening tools out there, it can be hard to know where to focus your energy. We’ve rounded up 15 experts to share their views on what matters most as you apply social insights.

1. Increase Brand Awareness with Perfectly-Timed Content

Shawn McGahee, VP Advanced Analytics, Moxie

When Moxie client Chick-fil-A wanted to “win breakfast,” the agency used NetBase to find out what gets their audience’s mouth watering. A simple GIF of honey dripping slowly off a stack of biscuits increased brand awareness by 46% – but those are the results you get when you look for and leverage real-time content opportunities. According to McGahee:

“We have a daily session where two analysts go into NetBase and listen for what our audiences are talking about through Audience 3D – what’s happening in the industry, what’s happening across our competitor set, and what they’re saying about us. And at 10:00 every day we sit our account, creative strategy, and client down and just tell them the story of the day. And from that we find content opportunities that we then push live within 30 minutes to four hours of when we saw the opportunity. And that content as a whole generally performs about 3 times higher than any other content we do for the brand.”

2. Use Social Listening Tools to Find and Precisely Target Key Audiences

Larry Cohen, SVP, IPG Media Brands SOCIETY

When Arby’s wanted to expand their menu to drive home their “we have the meats” campaign, IPG used social analytics to learn which unusual offering (venison) would be best received by their client’s diners. Shares Cohen:

“There are two ways we used NetBase to facilitate key insights. The first was looking at the campaign in 2016 and understanding the key conversations that were occurring in social. Secondly, in the validation process, using that as well as several other meats under consideration – like bison, like shark meat – and being able to determine which would be the most resonant and relevant to the Arby’s audience. We did see some of these specific hunting retailers as key partners and/or audiences to address.”

3. Focus on Fostering Human Connections

Hannah Harvey Digital Marketing Expert, Links Magnet LTD

Never has it been more important to build relationships with consumers. It’s why sentiment analysis is crucial to the equation – so you have that common ground to work from. Harvey says,

“Strangely enough, it’s new businesses that have been most successful at creating a human relationship with their users. Where established brands have struggled, new entrants like Airbnb, Uber and Deliveroo have successfully built a strong following. Their recipe for success is twofold:

  • A digital strategy
  • Personalisation

It’s as simple as that. In practice, there are many different ways this can be achieved. There are no shortcuts to building human relationships. If you think about how much time and dedication it takes in your personal life, you’ll know that a brand must build trust and authenticity incrementally. To do that, you need to delight the customer consistently, whether it’s by greeting users personally, providing targeted content and offers or having social media touch-points that connect with them on their level.”

4. Use Influencers to Stay Relevant

Hetal Patel, Consumer and Corporate Insights, iHeartRadio

It’s important for brands to embrace digital spaces to remain relevant, which sometimes means shifting control of your marketing. For iHeartRadio, it meant giving the power back to the people, as Patel explains:

“We found influencers using NetBase for a particular artist saying this person over-indexes on this particular artist. We recruited them to be the fan ambassador, and created certain categories where they would nominate other people and create relevant social chatter for that particular [type of] fan.”

5. Combine Online and Offline Conversations to Understand Purchase Behavior

Brad Fay, Chief Commercial Officer, Engagement Labs

When Nordstrom got caught in a Twitter war with President Trump over the brand canceling the Ivanka Trump line, there was a lot of negative conversation on social media. But there was also a lot of positive conversation, leading to a good year more consistent with the offline conversation about Nordstrom. Here’s how Engagement Labs gets the full picture:

“[Our methodology brings] two streams of data together – one is online data that people are familiar with, we think of it as the tip of the iceberg, the most visible part of the consumer conversation. The second part we think of is the part of the iceberg that’s below the surface, that’s hard to see. We’re able to pull those two data streams together with a scoring system, and we extract key metrics, and we’re able to bring them together to estimate the impact on purchases. Because conversations online and offline lead to purchases.”

6. Turn Marketing into a Profit Center with a Focus on Media

 Joe Pulizzi, Founder, Content Marketing Institute & Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, The Content Advisory

In their book Killing Marketing: How Innovative Businesses Are Turning Marketing Cost into Profit, co-authors Pulizzi and Rose set the story by referencing companies who’ve become media companies first, and sellers of products second. It’s an idea that’s easy to scoff at – until you see the success of those who’ve made the change.

“Red Bull, Johnson & Johnson, and Arrow Electronics still market their products like other organizations, including advertising and traditional public relations. But these enterprises, through their content-driven and audience-building initiatives, drive value outside the day-to-day products they sell, and are monetizing it directly. They are, in every sense of the word, ‘media’ companies.

Of course these initiatives sell more cans, more baby formula, and more electrical components. The delivery of amazingly helpful content keeps customers longer, keeps them buying more, and even helps new customers close faster. The engagement in the content reveals deep insight about customer behavior and leads to the development of new products and services. All that, and the marketing pays for itself and even generates a profit for the business.”

7. Integrate Your Tools with Social Analytics Tools for Custom Metrics

Anupam Singh, Founder & President, 113 Industries

113 Industries is a data science and artificial intelligence based company offering consumer market research for Fortune 500 brands and agencies. They use a custom tool and integrated data to understand consumer psychology:

“One of the features we like about NetBase is the ability to integrate with other data sets. We use NB APIs for example to get data out of NB on the consumers, and then we use that in other ways. Specifically we use IBM Watson to understand the psychology of the consumers. So after we’ve done the segmentation of the different consumers within NB we then go out and use IBM Watson – and we built our own little tool with the capability to do that – and that helps our customers really then activate the consumers in specific ways when they go to marketing or launching the product.”

8. Use Visual Marketing in Hard-Sell Industries

Nancy Harhut, Chief Creative Officer, Harhut & Associates

Harhut uses the insights of social scientists and behavioral economists and combines them with marketing best practices for a one-two punch for her clients. For a client in the insurance industry, she analyzed the feedback of hot buttons for consumers buying additional insurance – not an easy sell – and discovered it was possible to increase purchases for previous buyers using visual content:

“We found that actually using a graph made a huge amount of difference. We showed people, ‘Here’s zero, that’s having no insurance, and here’s 3 million, the most you can have, and here’s where you are,’ and generally speaking it was to the left of center.

We knew that showing that graph wouldn’t make people rush out to buy 3 million, but we knew that it would move them closer to the center because there’s something known as the ‘pull of the magnetic middle,’ where we all just feel more comfortable, happier, safer in the center.

We don’t really want to be on the bleeding edge for the most part, we don’t want to be lagging behind. We feel more confident and comfortable in the center, and so showing people left of center on that graph moved them closer to center. And we saw, I think, a triple or quadruple lift in response. It was amazing.”

9. Use Empathy to Turn a Crisis Around

Gini Dietrich, CEO, Arment Dietrich, Author, Spin Sucks (book and blog)

In her blog, Dietrich rightfully praises the communications team of Crock-Pot for their skillful handling of the crisis that emerged when hit TV show “This Is Us” used the brand to ignite (pun intended) their (spoiler alert) Jack-killing fire plotline.

What made for dramatic, tear-jerker television turned into a major crisis for Crock-Pot – but because the brand was quick to act, they minimized the damage. But, as Dietrich notes, “that’s not the only thing they did well.”

The brand used empathy, followed by facts, to turn the conversation around and reassure viewers.

But Crock-Pot DID have some scrambling to do. They didn’t even have a Twitter account when the crisis broke. They actually created one on the fly to deal with it. But Dietrich doesn’t recommend any brand count on being so nimble.

“You must imagine the worst-case scenarios (and now you can add this as one of your examples) and devise a plan for how you’ll respond. Are you already on social media and monitoring the conversations daily? Or, like Crock-Pot, will you have to play catch-up when something unexpected happens? I advise the former. Don’t play catch-up. Have a plan…. Know which audiences you’ll have to communicate with, including employees, and how you’ll reach them. Don’t ignore something just because you don’t get it or it’s not the way you communicate.”

10. Be Sure You Offer the Amazing Analytics Clients Demand

Mike Betzer, SVP & General Manager, Lithium

It’s not easy managing the digital customer experience of a huge client like T-Mobile – but Lithium does it for them and many other clients their size. This means offering integrated data they can pull into their own analytics tool so their clients have one view of the data that matters. Betzer explains,

“When you’re dealing with a big customer like T-Mobile, 1) you have to earn their trust, and prove you can deliver world class scalable software. On top of that you have to have amazing analytics. What we’ve done together between Lithium and NetBase is weave our analytics together to provide detailed data in a way that now they can make decisions they’ve never been able to see and make decisions on before.”

11. Use Social Listening Tools to Nimbly Adjust Content and Strategy as Needed

Evan Carpenter, Strategist, Mother NYC

Creative agency Mother NYC works with brands like Target to power interesting insights about audiences and conversations to fuel their creative team’s efforts. For a client like No. 7 Skin Care and Cosmetics, this requires ongoing reporting to adapt paid media strategy and content calendars based on where people are sharing love about each product line. Strategist Evan Carpenter shares how modern social listening tools make this process fast and easy:

“We’ll look at people who are talking about a certain topic, pass that through Audience 3D to deliver surprises or changes to maybe who a brand’s key consumer might be. NetBase takes something that feels enormous and insurmountable and makes it tangibly accessible. Big questions about what matters to people used to require a lot of research, and now it feels like it’s something you can hop in, build a quick topic on, and effortlessly feed it to whoever needs to know. It makes everything a lot simpler.”

12. Share Social Analytics Knowledge Across Your Organization

Tamara McCleary, Founder & Ceo, Thulium

The global market is far too competitive for businesses to limit social insights to marketing initiatives. McCleary agrees:

“Marketers today are challenged to become knowledgeable technologists.  It’s CMOs today who are making purchasing decisions on CDN, not the IT department. In a world of Digital Transformation where companies must become digital to the core or bust, the rules have changed. Silos are challenged, and the ‘who does what’ lines are blurred. Today a digitally savvy c-suite and board are imperative to withstand the futuristic winds and shifting tide.”

13. Take Sentiment Analysis Beyond “Good vs. Bad”

Matt Blasco, Head of Global Analytics, HAVAS Worldwide

HAVAS works with different partners to do a quick analysis of social conversations, and then perform deeper level analysis to get at the true feelings behind what people are talking about, instead of just binary good versus bad. Blasco elaborates,

“If a campaign is not as successful as we like it to be – and I think that happens for more campaigns than are wildly successful – we can look at what are those themes, feelings, where is the white space in terms of what people are talking about? Are we missing something? Is there a product offering we should be focusing on?”

Asking these questions worked well with client Volvo, for whom they wanted to expand the conversation beyond just “safety” – something they’ve always been known for – to appeal to a younger customer as well as the soccer moms who already love the brand.

14. Be Sure Social Analytics Tools Are Flexible and Available to All Who Need Them

Laura Semple, VP Director of Content Strategy, Conill 

Conill is a top multicultural agency that uses social analytics in a number of ways for clients like Toyota, P&G, Nationwide Insurance, and more. Seeing the power of social data has resulted in broadening the use of it, and sharing it beyond their analytics team. Says Semple,

“When we got the tool we were thinking analytics – that’s all we were thinking about, and we really bought it for the analytics team. Now we’re getting more interest. At the same time NetBase is offering solutions that can help us extend the reach of the tool to other people. Like Instant Search just came at the right time, because we had planners who are not as data savvy, but certainly want to know what’s happening on a daily basis with a lot of the topics we come across that are important to our market.”

15. Nail Down Brand Values

David Armano, Global Strategy Director, Edelman Digital

It’s no longer enough to have great products – you’ve got to have a great customer experience. But part of that now cuts to the core of the business – to what you actually stand for in the world at large. Armano states,

“On the cultural front—consumers are not only empowered to behave as activists thanks to social media—they are now polarized and motivated to do so and no brand is immune. Millennials in today’s polarized environment are causing brands to anticipate and respond to consumer’s needs in ways that transcend transactions and even emotions. Brands are increasingly finding themselves during a societal issue where consumers, employees and even media demand to know their stance. In this economy, brands will be forced to re-examine and re-align their societal values and not just the value proposition of their products.”

Social listening tools prove their worth every day, but if you don’t want to take our word for it, take the word of the experts above, who use them to move their brands and clients’ brands forward. And follow their tips – because the tools only work when you know how to use them.

Ready to give our social listening tools a try? Reach out for a demo first, and we’ll show you what they can do for your business.