Harnessing the power of social listening data

Monitoring and analysing customer sentiment conversations, across social media and online channels, can be done with speed and accuracy.
Damian Michael
By Damian Michael, Tech entrepreneur and CEO, Innovo Networks.
Johannesburg, 04 Aug 2023
Damian Michael, CEO of Innovo Networks.
Damian Michael, CEO of Innovo Networks.

In today’s digital age, cancel culture is a real thing and customer opinions can literally make or break a brand. Therefore, to survive, and thrive, businesses must be attuned to the views and opinions of their customers.

I firmly believe that if companies are not already using social listening tools to optimise data and enhance the customer experience, they may be on the backfoot.

While social media platforms can be considered as social listening tools, manually analysing the comprehensive reporting and analytics they generate can be daunting.

Leveraging technology like artificial intelligence and tools like Hootsuite, Brandwatch, Sprout Social, Mention, Talkwalker and Sprinklr can really help businesses unlock a wealth of customer insights − monitoring and analysing customer sentiment conversations, across social media and online channels, with unprecedented speed and accuracy.

According to the State of Social Listening in 2022 report, most businesses do have an established approach to social listening, but not all of them feel like they’re maximising their opportunities on this front.

Used correctly, these tools can help businesses mine a wealth of data. The same report states that while most aren’t optimising the tools effectively, more than 82% of the companies surveyed said social listening is now a key element in their business strategy and planning.

Sentiment analysis is crucial in understanding customer perceptions, and the online space is a hub of discussions.

The Woolworths Pride campaign that recently set Twitter ablaze serves as a prime example of why this planning is so important, and how conversations in the online space can significantly impact a brand's reputation and customer perception.

To celebrate Pride Month, the retailer introduced a range of Pride merchandise, triggering a fierce debate on social media. While supporters hailed the brand's commitment to LGBTQIA+ rights, critics accused Woolworths of being too woke, overly political and alienating religious communities. Boycott calls and claims of family values being eroded intensified and the controversy was debated on social media.

Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, it’s instances like these that make the case for the value of social listening, not just after a campaign, but beforehand to gauge how an audience may respond.

It should be the insights from data retrieved over an extended period of time that informs strategic rollout plans. More importantly, this data should ideally be part of a holistic data mining approach, whereby insights are gathered through omnichannel and multi-channel platforms.

Here are a few ways in which social listening tools can benefit a company:

Real-time monitoring allows businesses to promptly address issues, respond to feedback, and engage in meaningful conversations from the get-go before things get out of hand. Constantly scanning social media platforms, websites, blogs and forums for mentions, keywords, hashtags, industry-specific groups, and topics of interest in real-time is invaluable.

Sentiment analysis is crucial in understanding customer perceptions, and the online space is a hub of discussions. By analysing the feelings and attitudes behind conversations and mentions, businesses can assess whether the overall sentiment towards their brand is positive, negative, or neutral.

Trend identification is a powerful capability that helps businesses stay informed about the latest trends, emerging topics and consumer preferences within their industry. In fact, in the State of Social Listening in 2022report, trend identification was listed as the top reason companies use social listening tools, to track and identify trending topics, keywords and hashtags related to specific industries or events. By staying up to date with the latest trends, businesses can adapt their strategies and capitalise on emerging opportunities for a competitive-edge.

Competitor analysis is made easier. Businesses can monitor their competitors' online presence, engagement levels, customer feedback and sentiment. This information is vital for conducting thorough competitive analysis and formulating effective counter-strategies.

Influencer and brand advocate identification is another valuable feature. This enables companies to identify key influencers and thought leaders in their industry.

Crisis management and reputation monitoring is vital, as these days, the online world serves as the breeding ground for crises. Social listening tools play a pivotal role in quelling those individuals who are talking negatively about a brand and enables companies to build positive relationships instead.