What is social monitoring? What is social listening?
Social monitoring is capturing what is said about brands on social media, and the daily/weekly/monthly reporting of the distribution of contents that are created in a positive, negative or neutral tone. With this process, it is possible to answer such questions as, what percentage of brand-related online discussions/contents have been positive in tone this week and how much of a change is this from last week? Therefore, many social media monitoring tools that currently exist in the market only provide frequency and category distributions for customers. These tools capture discussions related to brands and can create many reports (sentiment, frequencies, subjects, etc.) of distributions for brands by using a manual or automated categorization.
As the importance of social monitoring has grown, its limitations have
also become more apparent. Brands have begun to realize that they cannot
answer all of their critical questions through monitoring alone. In
order to understand these limitations, we should take a careful look at
the process of branding.
Conventionally, brand management and the concept of branding are at the heart of the entire marketing process. In classical marketing, brands were perceived as a mixed element which told customers which associations they should make, the kinds of benefits they could provide within different environments and the values they represented (See first circle in above diagram). With one-sided broadcasts controlled entirely by the brands themselves, they were in a race against the customers in terms of acceptance or rejection. By controlling the communication channels brands had created a controlled environment in which to communicate their messages, thus giving them influence over what was thought and not thought about their products. In this sense, they were capable of controlling communication with the customer at a macro scale.
As a result of social media and increased communication and interaction between customers, this one-sided communication process can be challenged by organizing alternative customer communities with their own emphasized interests (Middle circle in the above diagram). This alternative type of customer community, capable of blocking the “push” communication strategy of the brand, has shown that they can seriously affect sales and impact the performance of the brand within the sector. In that sense, a customer’s choice to use a brand is akin to supporting a way of thinking for other customers. Consumers can communicate with each other about their thoughts, values and principles through their choices to use and boycott brands.
A response to this pattern of consumer behavior would be for the brand to restructure itself as a platform through which customers could communicate and thus gain the partnership of those individuals (third circle in the above diagram). That is to say, the brand’s identity becomes equal to those conversations and it needs to position itself so that it is always within reach for its customers. The more naturally occurring these conversations are and the more they occur at a customer-level, the larger the opportunity for success for the brand.
Brands have begun to look beyond the passive reporting of social media monitoring and are looking to generate more meaningful insights through social listening. By understanding their customers’ communication needs and by extracting meaning from the social media contents that have been created, brands are beginning to embrace this new strategy. The speed of technological and economic progress in this domain emphasizes the importance of engaging both the brand and the customers simultaneously, and highlights the importance of understanding customer engagement for effective brand management.
These developments have shown that it is important to draw meaning from social listening. In short, the positive/negative categorizations and frequency change reporting from social monitoring is no longer enough for brands.
If used effectively, social media-based observations lead to important facts and conclusions. For example, we know that the first question that brand managers have is about the positioning of their brand in the market. If we consider the contents of a campaign, the difficulties that arise in this process may be a result of gaps in communication and issues with the perception of the product in the sector. The existence of these perceptions and customers’ statements regarding the brand can all be used as evidence in this regard. Social media can provide a way to view the perceptions of the customers in a much clearer manner in that one can consider the actual “verbatim” statements that are organically generated by those interacting with the brand. Even the absence of interactions by the customers is a meaningful observation that can be used to assess a brand’s performance, in that it might indicate that the brand-related social media contents are not of interest to the target audiences.
Social media enables brands to identify key competitors and their place in the sector relative to each other. For example, the number of contents produced per brand could be used as a simple comparative tool between them. One particularly valuable element of social media data is its real-time nature, and these social media contents can easily be collected from social media tools and monitoring services.
What are the limitations of social monitoring/listening? What sets eBrandValue apart?It is impossible to correlate sales successes to only brand-based “likes” or increases in frequency that are measured within a vacuum. Having an understanding of the activities and performance of a brand’s competitors and the entire sector is critical to assessing the brand’s relative performance. Let us explain this with a case study:
Let us compare six brands, each with their own campaign, during the period of January – September, as visualized in the diagram below. Each “event” in the diagram corresponds to a campaign, while each letter from A to F represents the brand that was running the campaign. The larger circles represent the number of contents created for each of the campaigns (mostly composed of positive-tone contents), while the frequency distributions beneath show the peaks of activity during the period. This diagram reveals to us that brand F’s campaign (which generated 5682 contents) was successful in comparison to the campaigns of brands D and E.
The analyses thus far are constructed within the scope of existing social media monitoring and listening tools. However, the understanding of brand performance goes beyond the simple breakdown presented here as these types of analyses cannot be used to generate meaningful foresight about real-world sales. It is in this regard that eBrandValue stands out. eBrandValue, which is a big-data infrastructure and analytics platform, utilizes an individual ID profiling method when collecting and analyzing social media data, keeping track of each author who is active in the sector and their current and historical brand preferences.
If we revisit the campaign analysis we carried out in the diagram above, we should also consider the identities of the authors creating the social media contents within the study. Below, we have updated the previous figures to also include the relevant author statistics. One point that stands out in the diagram below is that the lowest number of authors belongs to the campaign of brand F. Two interpretations of this figure may be that either there is a passionate and committed author base that has repeatedly engaged with the campaign, or it is possible that the data has been impacted by bot accounts or agency-led content generation. By analyzing the data in the diagram below, we gain the insight that the campaign of brand F has reached the lowest number of authors among all competing campaigns, and has thus been the least effective in its strategy within the sector.
eBrandValue allows one to truly understand the nature of online audiences, to determine the extent and authenticity of their engagement and to identify the cause-and-effect relationships that drive their migrations between brands.
|Frequency and classification (e.g.,) reporting||Topic, word cloud, social media based interaction / reactive CRM||Individual Profiling, reporting on each individual's brand affinity and changes, proactive approach based on individual's profile in CRM|
Value Proposition and Created Impact
|Classification of emotions related to brand in social media and notification of positive / negative changes||Finding out which issues the brand is associated with, responding to customer complaints||Configuring and monitoring metrics that determine sales, finding and tracking brand, competitors and individuals with the brand affinity of the sector, identifying strategies and proactive customer acquisition strategies|