I am fascinated with consumer conversations about brands. Most of the times they do not really care about what brands say, they have their own chats around why and how they use their products and services. And brand key message is most of the times lost on them. Because they do not CARE about your message. They do not CARE about your brand.

Can you fulfill their need asap? Can you provide great product and service? Then they will talk about you, recommend you. 

Otherwise your entire advertising plan for the upcoming quarter, year, is bound to fail. Key messages born in the creative laboratory of an agency that does not necesarily use your product will maybe (if you are lucky) get their attention and maybe (if you are even more lucky) get them to try your product. But they will forget your shiny messages and start their own conversation threads. And then your key messages blows up in pieces and research done on carefully selected audience samples loses relevance. They will post hundreds of messages on how to fix your product, they will seek help from other users and complain about customer service, they will mock your beloved ads that cannot answer their questions on product functionality and your lack of social care.

Brand managers have to stop focusing on reaching as many people as possible and start thinking about what customer experience they offer across touchpoints. 

Maybe a shift from potential reach to customer personas, from counting down impressions to counting down potential leads, from just prompted research done in a small room on the outskirts of the city to listening to people’s organic conversation threads.

As a social media analyst I am a big believer in getting insight from those social media conversations. And I have a couple of reasons:

  • it’s organic – you know for a fact that users reactions are not prompted by any incentive or marred by intermediaries:
  • you can test it out on different digital touch-points and validate your hypothesis:
  • it can tell you a story you were not looking for, a story about your customers and their needs and message for the brand; 4) yes, you can also assess key message and USP.

Should Social Listening And Social Media Analysis Replace Traditional Research?

No, not always – this guy points out a couple of the shortcomings in this article (to mention a few – lack of scalability, organic – you cannot ask your own questions, sentiment analysis has higher costs).

Should you test it out? Yes! Do test, see what works for you and with what ROI and then decide. But please, oh please, do stop and LISTEN for other conversations around your industry. Maybe you will find insight that goes a step further than assessing campaign reach. Maybe you will find out what matters for your customers enough for them to take the time and write down what they think. Maybe you will find out what type of experience they would be willing to pay (more) for.

What I Read &Recommend on the topic