Thinking you know what your customers want, and actually knowing, are two different things. This is why social listening is such a crucial component of any brand’s marketing strategy – and it’s why agencies like Ames Scullin O’Haire (ASO) use NetBase to provide key insights for their clients.

Making the status quo appealing

One such client is the Georgia Aquarium, who needed a campaign to bring more visitors to the aquarium in 2015 – even though there were no new exhibits launching that year.

This is something any brand can relate to – the time “between” campaigns. It’s easy enough to formulate a plan when you have something specific to promote – like a new product or event. But what do you do in the day-to-day to keep consumers interested?

Gaining this understanding is what social listening is all about – because social monitoring isn’t a “one and done” exercise. Social conversations should be analyzed regularly, in real-time, to give brands the most accurate information to guide decision-making.

In this case, ASO looked at conversations about consumers’ experiences at the aquarium to learn what they loved most about visiting. To find the necessary insights to take action, it’s not about looking at mentions alone – it’s about exploring sentiment within the context of social conversations, and the intensity attached.

Their analysis revealed aquarium visitors loved “Behind the Seas” backstage tours, “Sips Under the Sea” after-hours cocktail parties, and penguins.

Turning penguins into superstars

Combining the backstage aspect with consumers’ love of penguins, ASO and the Georgia Aquarium decided to turn a standard animal transfer – a family of African penguins joining the aquarium flock – into a behind-the-scenes event.

They named the family the Waddlesworths, and tracked their progress with an interactive map as they traveled from Africa to Atlanta. Woven into the map were blog posts and pictures of the Waddlesworths and other sea animals. They even appointed the head of the family, George the penguin, as the official spokesperson of the aquarium.

The campaign brilliantly capitalized on something aquarium-goers already loved, deepening that connection by humanizing the animals and inviting fans into the experience.

Simply posting a coupon for a few dollars off admission wouldn’t have gotten consumers talking on social sites like Instagram the way the Waddlesworths did. The specificity of the campaign’s appeal is what made it successful for the Georgia Aquarium.



A roadmap to success

Just as the Waddlesworths couldn’t have reached their destination without a clear course charted to get them there, no brand can succeed without a clearly defined understanding of what their customers want.

Not using social listening tools to find that information is as nonsensical as refusing to turn on your GPS when you’re lost. You’re unnecessarily making things harder for yourself.

When you do allow consumer thoughts, emotions and behaviors to drive your brand’s strategy, you get amazing results – like the Georgia Aquarium did. The 8% increase in aquarium visitors and #1 US aquarium ranking on TripAdvisor are only part of the benefits they experienced.

Your brand could do as well or better by dialing into social data and letting it lead the way. And you don’t have to wait for something special – you can create an engaging campaign out of anything if you’re creative enough.

All you need to know is what your audience wants from you – and then give it to them. It really is that simple. Just ask George Waddlesworth.

Want to know how else consumer sentiment analysis helped the Georgia Aquarium? Read the full ASO/Georgia Aquarium case study – or reach out to see what NetBase can uncover about your brand today.

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