Social Listening, its not really anything new is it?

Over the years I've worked on numerous brand realignment, and brand re-positioning strategies, these include companies of varying sizes, in different sectors markets, and territories, many of them a mixture of luxury (high end) or volume (price driven) companies, and quite a few technology businesses. One of the key tools we deployed to establish where the brand 'was, is now, and where we would like it to be' was a basic research technique called 'brand recall'.

'Brand recall' is when you go and talk to a sample size of people, you take them through a list of brand names and ask if they've heard of them, if they have what it is they do?. I

Its one of many measurements that can let a brand know if they are 'resonating with the right audience, how they compare to a competitor, and if so how does that audience perceive them e.g. does audience recall fit with the brand position in the market - all very important if you're looking to continue to invest in 'front of mind' marketing activity.

One of the more interesting ones I did was for a US based ladies 'hosiery and Shape wear company' (the guys who invented Nylon Stockings), I won't go into why we did a re-brand but when we went to do a brand recall exercise our intention was to gain insight into the market, and competitive landscape. 

Just for fun I threw in the potential name for the re-brand which hadn't even been launched, didn't have any product, and certainly hadn't any marketing activity with it. To mine and the clients surprise  it got a 9% brand recall, with a product association that was spookily close to where we were going. 

For the ladies reading this the biggest competitor was 'Spanx', the new brand name for the client was going to be called 'Sculptz' - see what we did there?

Now you might think that a 9% recall doesn't sound a lot but trust me in the 'brand positioning' world, that level of recall at early stage can literally save you 100's of thousands of $$$£££, anguish, and additional research budget, particularly as it resonated very close to the companies biggest competitor.  

Example: If you were sat in a bar, or coffee shop after you had a meeting with a potential new client (go with me) and they entered said bar/coffee shop with members of their team, and started to talk about you and your company, what would you be wanting them to say?

In summary that's what personal and company branding is all about, so if your not listening, and engaging how do you know if your 'on brand' or not?

These days lots of 'branding' companies use things like 'word clouds' to give you a sense of what people are saying your brand is in the online space, here's an example, I doubt if you haven't already come across these before?

Today, word clouds simply form part of a number of freely available 'listening' tools, and are a staple part of some of the more professional 'paid for' solutions. These professional tools can go a lot deeper than just words, they can see 'intent', they can identify which platforms your brand is most active on, and with whom, they can also be used to help you 'listen' to competitors, in the same way your competitor can listen to you.

So when I read the article (link below) about the plethora of listening tools available (free and paid) and how companies that are supposed to be using them seem to have them gathering dust on the balance sheet shelf, I'm not really surprised.

Most of these tools are being used by an outsourced agency, who definitely don't want to be an extension of your 'customer service' department, they just want to charge you the ongoing retainer and do as little as possible to maximise their margin, not yours. 

The tools available today allow you to have a dynamic and detailed view of how you and your company are being perceived on Social Media, and as we have often evidenced in numerous blog post it seems many brands simply don't invest in the time and effort to make use of the information these tools are throwing out, as the saying goes 'a fool with a tool, is still a fool'.

"Given the increasing importance of reviews, not just for consumer brands but B2B offerings as well—plus backlinks,  microinfluencers, and social media conversations— it’s vital to track online brand mentions".

We have spent a lot of time looking at many brands on social media  these last few weeks, these include a number of major companies in the following sectors;

  • Retail/eCommerce/B2B
  • Healthcare
  • Legal, and
  • Financial Services

We can only conclude that either they aren't really interested in what the consumer (you and me) is saying, they have no interest in engaging, learning or building communities, they just want to continue with their 'advertise and promote' strategies.

We're moving onto other sectors such as Hospitality, Travel and related services, no doubt we'll find a similar story.

Could it be, they really don't have the skill set to do anything with the feedback, they invested in the tool but not the trained resource, worse still they've outsourced it to 'the agency' who really couldn't care less about listening, because they get paid on reach, not engagement?.

If you invest in a Social Media presence, at least ensure you've put the same investment into being 'social' and that includes not just listening, but engaging, adding value, and working to build out strong communities of people who can help leverage your brand and proposition - its a two way process!