Social media is an outlet for consumers to express what is important to them and what they want – brands can simply search their name on Twitter for droves of immediate feedback. But not all feedback is useful, or immediately clear – so how do you get to the good stuff?

Don’t “count” on anything

Let’s start with what doesn’t work, namely the superficial data like “how many” – of basically anything. The number of likes, mentions, retweets or comments your brand receives might seem like clear evidence that people like you, but it can’t be taken at face value.

What about retweets shared with a disparaging preface, or comments ripping your brand to shreds? What about the mentions of your brand by users who vow to never buy again?

On social media, numbers can and do lie, so you need to go deeper. Keywords help, but out of context they don’t tell you much either.

So what should brands look at if they want a sense of where they stand with consumers? Here are three areas to focus on:

1. What consumers are saying – about everything

Social media is a consumer-centric land. Brands may be allowed to visit, but they have to earn their welcome by assimilating. They can do that by finding ways to enter social conversations in authentic, human ways – which means they have to listen to what’s being said already.

And what IS being said? Anything and everything. Consumers on social talk about their work, colleagues, bosses; their families, hobbies, pets; their passions, dreams, and goals. They may mention brands along the way, but that information has to be used smartly.

For example, someone may tweet: “Watching #Survivor and eating nachos – is that so wrong?” What you DON’T want to do is come back with, “I hope you’re using [insert brand name here] salsa! It’s the best!” with a link to a coupon. Unless they name your brand, that tweet isn’t directed at you, it’s directed at the friends of the tweeter – which makes your promotional reply an intrusion.

What you COULD do is reply, “Who’s your pick to win? Our money’s on [insert tribe member here].”

But it’s not just what consumers are saying that matters.

2. What consumers feel – and how strongly

Consumer emotions – and the intensity of those emotions – are just as important to consider.

Everything consumers share is based in emotion – what makes them laugh, cry, feel frustrated, etc. Do they like your brand, or love your brand? Do they hate it? You should know, and act accordingly.

Those who love you are potential brand advocates. Those who like you or are neutral need a little more attention. And those who hate you or have a problem they’ve shared on social? They’re the ones who need immediate attention, before they cause viral damage.

And don’t discount emojis and slang in your social listening. Emojis convey feelings in the fewest amount of characters, so you could be missing crucial details without a slanguage tracker to decipher them.

3. What’s happening with the competition

But it’s not just the conversation around your brand, and consumers’ lives, that social listening informs on. You can also track what your competitors are doing – and how consumers are responding – which is critical information you can use to your advantage.

If consumers are loving the competition, what can you do to get in on that love? If consumers are hating competing brands, how can you solve their problems and earn their trust and loyalty for yourself?

These are the insights on offer with social listening and consumer sentiment analysis. And it all happens in real-time, which means you can adjust any strategies that aren’t working in the moment. With new trends cropping up all the time, you don’t want to wait for a month-end report – you want to know what’s happening as it’s happening.

And then what?

What do you do with this information once you have it? A few things:

  • You look for common interests among social consumers – shared passions, shared pet peeves, etc.
  • You create audience micro-segments based on these shared interests
  • You deliver individualized messaging to these segments, so they don’t feel like they’re being marketed to – instead, they feel like they’re being approached by just another social friend

Taking this approach gets you a lot of consumer love – which you can never have too much of.

When you uncover and use insights that matter, you get results that matter as well. And isn’t that much better than wasting your time counting things that won’t add up to any extra loyalty in the end? We think so.

Ready to stop counting and start engaging? Ask us for a demo of our social listening tools today!

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