Identifying Hot Topics in Your Niche – From 7 Brands In the Know

Kimberly Surico |
 03/06/17 |
6 min read


Marketing may be creative, but it also must be precise – lest your beautifully crafted messaging fall on indifferent ears. Here are 7 brands using social media analytics tools to power campaigns and other brand strategies around hot topics happening in real-time.

Timing is everything

Not all brand decisions are made in real-time. Marketing campaigns take time to conceive and implement, product takes time to develop… But real-time analysis must be part of the equation that helps you shape the direction of your campaign once it’s live, or you could miss the mark completely. The audience you defined a month ago, may not behave as you anticipated today.

You need real-time insights about what consumers care about right now to inform course corrections – and flexibility is key, because you never know when the hot topic will be an issue happening with your brand.

1. Taco Bell

For example, Taco Bell used NetBase to keep them in the know when they launched breakfast as a new offering. Following where conversations were happening geographically, as well as emerging topics within the last hour, they saw that the East Coast was running out of product, and were able to address this issue instantly to prevent it from happening across the rest of the country.

Being able to solve that problem impacted the overall success of the breakfast launch – something that wouldn’t have happened if they’d waited to view data at the end of the campaign.

Know your place

The Taco Bell case brings up a good point in that it’s not just about timing – it’s about location.

2. Rock Orange

Integrated communications firm Rock Orange finds the geography metric particularly useful in their endeavors for clients. When they see brand conversation is heavily saturated in a particular region of the country, it helps them refine their strategy, whether that’s to diversify their approach, or to focus their efforts in that area – to reach early adopters, for instance.

Rock Orange also uses NetBase to measure conversational topics, keywords and categories to identify targeted influencers for their client brands. They start by identifying 20-30 potential influencers, and then narrow that list down to the 5-10 with the most potential to become their own brands and have their own platform for sharing brand messaging – whether they have 1 million followers or 2000. It’s not about numbers alone – it’s about passion, and their ability to get others excited about what they share.

Of course “where” doesn’t just refer to geography – it refers to channels as well. And “where” you find your audience on social is just as important as where they live in the world.

3. Purple Strategies

Purple Strategies is a firm that advises fortune 100 and 500 companies in the public policy space, performing crisis and reputation management and strategy. They use NetBase social media monitoring tools to visualize what’s happening online with their clients – with a particular focus on both share of voice and source, i.e., who is leading the conversation on each platform across social. As Scott Reitzel, Director of Social Insights at Purple Strategies, says: “When it hits the general public, it’s way too late.”

Additionally, being able to so quickly understand and visualize important insights means they can do more with fewer people, while proving the merits of social data to their clients. This is a prime selling point for any agency – being able to quantitatively prove the depth of your knowledge to potential clients, quickly illustrating where their brand should be headed and why, based on precise information coming through in real-time, presented via easy-to-understand visual dashboards.

Get a multi-dimensional picture

Visualization is important – not just for viewing data, but as part of the data you unearth in your social listening.

4. Isobar

This is something marketing and technology company Isobar uses in pitches to clients like Enterprise Rent-A-Car and the U.S. Air Force. They use visual curation from places like Instagram to inform, inspire and enhance their creative briefs.

This is something that our Instant Search tool makes easy. Enter keywords, social handles or hashtags for a snapshot of metrics including impressions, sentiment, top networks, and popular media:

popular media

Then click on individual posts to see exactly what they are, and what people are saying:


From there you can refine your topic and use NetBase to uncover deeper insights to get a complete picture of your brand within the social landscape, so you can craft strategies based on data-driven intel instead of assumptions.

Divide and conquer

One assumption social analytics has shattered is the notion that everyone in your broader audience feels the same way. This couldn’t be further from the truth – and it’s the reason psychographic analysis has become an important addition to demographic information. Where demographics give you an overarching sense of your target audience – say, “Women, 18-24” – psychographics fill in the details and expand your audience based on common interests and conversation topics on social media.

Instead of a single audience, you should have multiple segments of consumers of all ages and gender unified by passion for the same things – from food to TV shows to cars they drive. Whatever they’re most excited about is what you need to talk to them about, and delving into passion on social gets you there.

5. Santy

This is an approach that works for Santy, a full service ad agency working largely with dining, CPG, airline, fashion and action sports brands.

What Santy does, smartly, is find the place where what brands want to communicate, and what consumers care about, overlaps. When they do, they’re able to perfectly craft the right campaign and messaging for their clients to win big with their audiences.

They did this with one airline client who wanted to better understand a specific customer within their audience. To discover the friction points they needed to work on for this audience, they segmented the customer journey from start to finish to inform a seamless customer experience that would engender loyalty for their airline.

The takeaway here is to not just look at the big picture – but the sum of its parts. Each audience segment – driven by consumers with varying desires, needs, and concerns – must be addressed individually for your brand to succeed in reaching them.

Precision matters

The more precise your targeting, the better your results, so it’s wise to use social to find that special niche your product alone speaks to, and branch out from there.

6. Zócalo Group

That’s exactly how Zócalo Group approached the U.S. launch of a popular European kids’ drink by a global beverage company. They couldn’t simply target “moms” – or even moms of a certain age. Their target had to be much more laser-focused if they wanted these moms to carry their excitement of the product across social to other moms. Zócalo helped client Britvic refine their target to a segment they called “movable moms.” These moms were:

  • 25% more active on social media
  • 30% more likely to see and act upon recommendations from friends/family
  • Has children between the ages of 4-14
  • Willing to try new brands, not typically buying organic, and less likely to dismiss foods because of their ingredients
  • More than 98% more likely to use mobile devices to learn more about the product

Surfacing insights about this particular type of mom showed them how to make changes for American consumers, ensuring a successful launch in a new market.

Empowering your brand and your team

Understanding hot consumer topics isn’t just about being hip to major trends like Pokémon GO, though of course you want to know about that sort of thing too. It’s about knowing what’s “hot” with your audience at any given moment. That could be the latest episode of Scandal, or it could be that their favorite store isn’t carrying your newest flavor of chips.

Whatever the topic, if your category is affected, you want to know – and sooner rather than later. And you want to share that intel with the people who need it across your organization.

7. Kentucky Fried Chicken

This is how KFC uses social monitoring, and it’s reframed their brand strategy from a reactive one, to a proactive approach. Using real-time insights they instantly interact with influencers and catch crises before they flare up, thereby mitigating and reducing risk.

They also identify opportunities to connect with their audiences, and keep their stakeholders in the know. With real-time visual dashboards, everyone can see at a glance what consumers are talking about, which terms are trending with regard to commercial spots or product, and more.

This keeps everyone from their internal team to cross-promotional partners in the loop and invested in their success – which is part of their secret sauce.

Of course, it’s not really a secret – it’s what we do here at NetBase every day. With an arsenal of industry-recognized tools, we help brands of all sizes access hot topics and insights that matter. The 7 brands above are just a few of those using social listening to excel in their markets. Imagine what we can do for your brand.

For a demo of our social media listening tools, reach out now!


Image from Thomas’s Pics


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