During a global, local, or brand crisis, it’s important to understand how consumers are reacting to and behaving in an unpredictable landscape. One way to monitor this in real-time is by tracking online conversations through social listening. Social listening provides a unique way to look beyond obvious consumer needs by exploring shifts in topics, tone, and sentiment. This information is important for digital marketers to consider when crafting an approach across all media channels, especially when formulating a crisis response strategy.
Listening for the Answers
Understanding the chatter around a brand or client is necessary during a volatile time to ensure messaging is aligned with consumer needs and expectations. Tracking content and comments on news sites, blogs, forums, and social media sheds light on how consumers talk about topics, what sources are most influential, on which platforms they’re engaged, what generates the most buzz, emerging trends, etc. Diligently following conversations gives marketers the data they need to understand how to position messaging and publish timely, relevant content. For example, while shelter in place orders were put into effect for COVID-19, a furniture retailer leveraged social listening to uncover home renovations and home office updates as a recurring theme. This retailer shifted its strategy to prioritize highlighting home office furniture in its creative along with featuring blog posts about how to create the perfect home office to fit any style. Meeting consumers where they are with the content they are interested in resulted in a lift in engagement (likes, shares, and blog views) for this retailer. Analyzing posts and comments across the web provides brands the insights needed to lead and shape the narrative, and to make informed decisions about platform prioritization, flighting, and content.
Monitoring Brand Sentiment
Monitoring conversations across channels can also help determine if consumers are reacting positively or negatively to a brand. This is known as brand sentiment. For example, if sentiment shifts negatively, it could indicate that brand messaging is being misinterpreted or is considered inappropriate in the current climate. Analyzing trending topics and brand sentiment together provides a clear indication of what is important to an audience. Having this information allows marketers to make data driven decisions about pivoting or refining content and media strategies. It can inform decisions such as turning off media versus increasing your presence, making changes to a content calendar, or updating creative to be more sensitive to current events. For example, a financial services company found that as the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction, some of its creative was receiving negative comments, which, in turn, was decreasing customer sentiment. This indicated that the creative was not resonating in the current environment and needed to be addressed. The company changed its creative to better align with current priorities and has since continued to monitor sentiment. Sentiment is a useful gauge, especially when brands are navigating a new situation.
Keep Pulse on Competition
Not only does social listening allow marketers to monitor brand chatter and sentiment, it serves to keep a pulse on the competition. Tracking what platforms competitors are prioritizing, what content they are posting, and the response they receive to their media provides a picture of the competitive space. This enables brands to understand how competitive strategies might impact their own performance. For example, by monitoring the direct competitors of an apparel brand as the news around COVID-19 developed, this client was able to stay abreast of developing fashions, such as “Zoom outfits” and “stay-at-home essentials” shopping guides. This helped keep creative and messaging recommendations relevant, and to fulfil customers’ new needs. By capitalizing on these insights, brands can stay relevant and position themselves as a leader and stand out amongst their peers.
The knowledge that social listening can provide is important for decision makers in all industries. Through identifying patterns in topics, monitoring brand sentiment, and analyzing competitive trends, brands can adapt their strategies accordingly and meet the evolving needs and expectations of consumers. This knowledge allows any marketer to stay one step ahead of the competition and position themselves as an industry leader. Are you ready to listen?
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