The case for social listening has been stated numerous times – and it’s a solid one. Not only does social listening lead you to important insights about your audience – it protects every aspect of your brand when you apply those insights.
Still, some continue to question the value of social listening tools, unconvinced they make that big a difference. Here are 9 brand success stories to prove the case once and for all.
1. Buffalo Wild Wings Proves No Idea Is Too Wild
The biggest lesson social listening teaches time and again is not to assume you know what consumers will respond to. Who would expect a pumpkin spice chicken wing sauce to catch on? Even Buffalo Wild Wings didn’t know for sure how their new sauce would land. But using social analytics to understand both what their audiences and the general public were talking about made it a calculated risk.
Though there was some poking fun and skepticism initially, they tracked sentiment and volume of conversation to stay on top of the conversation – which took a very positive turn with the help of some key influencers. What a great way to stand out.
2. GoDaddy Wins the Award for Readiness
The accuracy of sentiment analysis is everything when you’re tracking social conversations in real-time – like during an award show like the ESPYs. Such shows often offer “moments” worth capitalizing on – but if you miss your shot, your brand will be eclipsed by whatever is next.
GoDaddy wanted to be sure they made the most of spokesperson Danica Patrick’s hosting turn on the ESPYs, so they took two key actions. They looked back at the previous year’s broadcast, and host Peyton Manning, to understand social conversation in relation to the host throughout the event. Next, they set up a war room to track social interaction during Danica’s show.
Their readiness paid off when Patrick’s iTonya spoof provided a GoDaddy shout-out in the middle of the program. The brand saw a huge spike in conversation and sentiment and were ready to respond. If they hadn’t used social listening to understand the impact of the host, and if they hadn’t been prepared with their social war room, they wouldn’t have been able to make the most of that moment for their brand.
3. Visa Give SMB Owners What They Want
For a global brand like Visa, social intelligence is imperative to understanding what’s next in digital payments. But they also focus marketing efforts on smaller segments of their audience – like SMB owners. Searching Twitter bios for terms like “I manage,” “I run,” “I own” they created a customizable database of SMB users.
Using social listening to search their forum profiles and Twitter conversations they learned how this specific segment wants to hear from Visa. Since adopting this strategy, sentiment has grown 50-60% more positive – which means they are accomplishing their goal.
4. Chili’s Is No April Fool
As Kyle Taylor, Founding Partner of Fact & Fiction – Chili’s partner in social – says, “Social is a 24-7-365 storefront.” Knowing this, Chili’s uses social listening to stay on top of issues, trends, channels, content, and what guests care about, and how that overlaps with what they care about as a brand. They’ve enjoyed one of the best aspects of social listening – which is the surprises it offers.
For example, they’d never realized there was a significant number of people going to Chili’s to purchase food to smuggle into movie theaters. Once they learned this, they offered an April Fool’s product announcement: a Chicken Crisper Hoodie, complete with thermal insulated pocket to keep your Chili’s food concealed and warm en route to the theater. Within an hour there were 1500 people offering any price to buy the hoodie for real.
It’s a powerful example of what can happen when you understand what people are saying online – not specifically to you, but about you. It’s not something you could ever know without state-of-the-art tools doing the heavy lifting.
5. Taco Bell Rocks Around the World
For Taco Bell’s international arm, it’s crucial to know what customers care about before launching in a new market. Their measure of success is whether people are camping out in advance of a restaurant opening. In addition, they want to know that when they arrive in a new global region, people are kicking down the doors of the restaurant, and can’t get enough.
They build this excitement through social listening, uncovering cool local insights through geofencing, to uncover insights their competitors just can’t touch. Using this strategy they’ve created amazing opening events catered to each regional audience:
- Punk rock in the UK
- Hip Hop underground beneath the restaurant in Tokyo
- Electric Dance Music (EDM) in India
- Local art in the Netherlands
And it’s because they identify what each regional audience cares about and bring it to life through the Taco Bell brand.
6. Hotwire Feels the Weather
Social media is about more than community management, and putting out messaging in the hopes of engagement. When approached as an all-around brand data source, it can be use to understand and change brand perception.
That’s how Hotwire uses social listening. For instance, when the Met Office wanted to connect to a younger generation of 18-to-35-year-olds, and understand how they were talking about the weather across social channels, they used NetBase to learn all they could.
They found that on Snapchat in particular, young people were talking about the weather in a very emotive way, e.g., “The weather is ‘crying.’” This unique use of language gave them insight on how to talk to this segment – as well as where they were actively engaged on social.
7. Lloyds Banking Group Stops Crying Wolf
Brand health is a crucial area for all brands – and something social listening can keep in check. Lloyds Banking Group uses social analytics to evaluate paid content, and also used survey-based research to understand their audience, but they understand these tactics come with biases.
What they love about social listening data is its unfiltered nature – where there’s no pressure to say a certain thing because consumers think it’s what the brand wants to hear. Instead, social offers the reality of what people truly think and feel.
Knowing this can go any number of ways, they use automated alerts to be aware of anything happening on social that could damage their brand. They find NetBase to be particularly useful for out-of-the-box NLP sentiment accuracy – something previous tools didn’t live up to.
When they get an alert now, they are more confident there truly is a breach, whereas before they were experiencing all sorts of false alarms. With NetBase they’ve increased the accuracy of their sentiment by 30%.
8. Dick Clark Productions Dances to Audiences’ Beat
Dick Clark Productions produces a large number of awards shows – like the Golden Globes, Billboard Music Awards, and the American Music Awards. They view social media as an integral part of any event – not something that supports the event, but more a power unto itself. It’s the new way people communicate and understand what’s going on in the world.
To that end, they never assume they know how the talent on their productions will be perceived. Often just when they think they know how something will be received, the data tells a different story. Because the volume of conversation is so large, they can’t always see what’s really happening. Using social listening to zoom in on audience segments at a granular level lets them understand how to create content their audiences will love.
Agencies like Edelman are often tasked with answering “tricky questions” asked by clients. We focus across primary, second and digital research. Understanding earned media is particularly important, and something social listening is perfect for. It’s the tool for understanding the topics and categories end consumers are talking about.
In their work for a leading entertainment brand, it’s important to listen during key points throughout the year to assess the booking cycle. When consumers talk about the process of booking a holiday at one of their client’s parks, for example, they follow those conversations on social.
The insights uncovered allow them to direct strategy for their clients moving forward – which is how they succeed as well.
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There’s no question social listening and sentiment analysis are the secret to many brands’ success. And now that such tools are bolstered by Next Generation AI technology, these insights come faster, are more accurate, and more malleable by brands using them. No brand we’ve worked with has ever regretted putting these tools or insights to use – but many have regretted not using them sooner.
So what’s the verdict? Is social listening worth the investment?
Absolutely. Case closed.