Social Listening Strategy: What Comes First, the Brand or the Audience?

Kimberly Surico |
 04/27/18 |
4 min read

Modern marketing is a delicate balancing act. Should brands decide what they’re about and hope they find an audience that cares, or should they adapt to consumer preferences? Social listening lets you do a bit of both.

You Are Your Audience

Whether you’re just getting started, or rebranding yourself after decades in the market, it’s important to consider your audience as you establish your brand’s values and goals.

This isn’t about selling out – it’s about ensuring the audience you suspect is out there actually is.

Let’s say you want philanthropy to be a brand pillar. There are numerous ways to contribute to charitable causes and give back to local communities, but why not maximize the moment and curate a little brand love in the process?

Given that Earth Day just passed, you could use a tool like NetBase Pro to see which conversations got the most consumer love.

Sentiment drivers of behavior for Earth Day and #EarthDay

Then check in with your specific audience segments to see if there’s any crossover.

You may find a national – or international – cause that makes sense to support. Or you may find it’s better to cater to smaller causes across different geographic regions where your brand has a presence. There’s no right or wrong as long as you’re listening to your audience.

Here’s a sound bite found by clicking on the term “attend” in the word cloud above:

🎊Last night we attended the most AHH-maZing #EarthDay vegan pop-up event and had a 6-course dinner at the @sawgrassmarriott resort called #FeastforRabbits! 🐰🌱💚 👉Scroll through to see all the fun we had with the chefs 👨‍🍳👩🏻‍🍳👨‍🍳and watch our @instagram stories 📸 What a scrumptious dinner feasting on #meatfree vegan delectable delights at Vernon’s: 🌱Sweet potato wrapped dates 🥕Heart of palms chickpeas, cauliflower crab cakes with aioli dip 🌱First coast Cobb salad with feta eggs,smoked tofu, artisan lettuce, cherry tomatoes 🥕Chicken cauliflower with crispy potato waffle with coleslaw and smoky maple mustard 🌱Mushroom Scallop with creamy herbed polenta and pepper caviar … and for DESSERT we had decadent 🍮Spicy molten lava cake with cherry avocado ice cream, pistachio brittle and caramel drizzle by @megrentzprice was phenomenal 🤤 We met some amazing friends, our tummies were full and enjoyed meeting and talking to all the chefs. We are L👀king forward to partnering with Vernon’s on future vegan events!

A post shared by JAX Vegan Couple (@jaxvegancouple) on

If you’re a competing hotel brand in the Ponte Vedra Beach, FL area, local interest in vegan events is something you should explore.

Be Cognizant of Changes in Your Category

One huge benefit of social listening is being alerted to trends in your industry or category. Trends aren’t limited to the short term, as in, maybe your retail brand should be selling Stranger Things t-shirts.

Longer-term trends are also discovered through ongoing social listening – alerting you to broader changes with potentially major impact.

Luxury brands, for example, tend to rely on the legacy of their name and quality in their marketing – but this is no longer something they can take to the bank. Why? Because the very definition of “luxury” is changing.

Millennials, to name a key generation, are more interested in the idea of “mass luxury” and “affordable luxury” – which means luxury brands have some adapting to do. At least if they want to attract consumers of this generation as they head into their prime earning years.

The recent NetBase Industry Report 2018: Luxury Brands offers a look at the top 100 global luxury brands. Would you expect L’Oreal to be among them – let alone in the top 20?

Looking at the Emotions under Sentiment Drivers, we see a lot of love for the beauty brand – with a few not-so-loving terms as well.

Clicking on the largest emotion, “angry,” surprisingly continues the vegan theme in the first section of this post:

Or perhaps not surprisingly, in light of Earth Day. Either way, it’s a good reminder to always stay on top of both sides of the sentiment coin. No brand’s reputation is guaranteed – but social listening increases your chances of keeping it intact.

This is also another example of letting your audience lead you. Maybe L’Oreal is unaware of the passion behind this sentiment. It’s important to be aware of such conversations so you can respond accordingly.

Is this accusation even true? If not, it’s time to set the record straight. If so, perhaps L’Oreal can change this facet of their business and gain new customers.

Somewhere between your brand and your audience lies the perfect strategy. Whatever you decide to do, it should be an informed decision. That’s what social listening is all about.

How can our social listening tools help your brand? Get in touch and we’ll give you a custom tour!



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