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11 Ways to Use Social Media Listening to Uncover Market Insights

28 Jul 2017 10:38 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

Sparks Research – Rich Groom and John-David McKee

Social media offers the potential to understand and engage your market and customers in new and powerful ways. Yet despite the potential, most businesses are only capitalizing on a fraction (if any) of the valuable insights and engagement opportunities it affords.

At Sparks Research, we understand the power of data-driven insights better than most. We know the huge impact these insights can have on marketing and branding, the customer experience and business strategies. We also know how hard it is to sort through all the noise out there and find meaningful data!

Today’s social listening technology offers a lot of opportunities for researchers to better understand and gain insights into many aspects of nearly any market, yet the majority of users don’t think to/know how to use these tools for research purposes.

Our system pulls data on conversations happening all over the web from over one billion sources. Sure, that means there’s a lot of noise, but once you sift through it there are always many useful insights that can be extracted. Armed with the right tools and knowing how to ask the right questions allows us to help companies identify trends, opportunities, concerns, track competitor activity and engage with customers like never before.

The following list illustrates ten ways to use social listening tools to extract business intelligence:

·       1.    Competitive Intelligence: What are your competitors saying?  How are they positioning themselves and their brands?  How is the market responding to their offerings? Monitoring your competitors allows you to proactively uncover unknown opportunities (and threats).

·       2.    Voice of the Customer: Tap into your customer’s voice to ensure your campaigns and messaging are relevant, effective and authentic. This voice often differs based on the channel.  What are they saying about your products…your services?  What are your ambassadors and your biggest critics saying?  These aspects can truly help businesses get a greater sense of their value proposition from the eyes of those who matter – your customers.

·       3.    Product/service launch campaigns: Track how the market is responding to new product or service offerings. What are they saying? Where are things going well, and where can things be improved? This approach enables you to respond quickly before the internet decides to make you into the next meme to go viral. 

·       4.    Influencers: Identify and engage with influencers, both those with major reach as well as micro-influencers who may not have massive numbers of followers but are very influential with their specific audience. Engage with them directly, and find look-alike audiences to amplify your efforts.

·       5.    Uncover and leverage trends:  Regardless of whether you’re interested in emerging technology or the newest fashion, you can use social listening to be on the forefront of trends to establish thought leadership or even launch new products or services.  Where do you need to go next before it is too late?

·       6.    Go back in time: What did your grandmother tell you about learning from your mistakes? You can use social listening to conduct a “post-mortem” to understand what caused things to go so well…or so poorly. You can also consider what people were saying on specific topics of interest at some prior point, identify who those people are, and then position your current offerings to this audience who have been interested in the topic in the past.

·       7.    Real-time Event intelligence: Picture 40,000 people attending an event where you have an important and expensive exhibit or large branding presence. Normally, you wouldn’t know what people were saying about you, or even worse if they were saying anything at all, and would have to rely on feedback from your reps after the fact and possibly some primary data collected during the event. But with social listening, you can get real-time feedback to proactively pivot during the event as well as initiating direct outreach to further engage this captive audience.

·       8.    Consumer and Market Intelligence:  What companies and brands do your target customers and/or advocates love/hate, and what are they saying about them. What do they look like (demographics, psychographics)? On which channels are they most active? 

·       9.    Build effect:  Imagine that your company issues a press release for a new offering, and following this initial release issues a series of subsequent press releases to further the PR initiative.  How does the “chatter” change from one point to the next? What caused this change?  Is behavior and commentary changing over a specific timeline related to your PR or from other factors?  At the highest level, is your PR strategy on point?   

·       10. Optimize your Channel Strategy:  By knowing where your target customers are talking about the topic of interest (and what they are saying), you can learn which channels and messages are key to reaching them. Social media is one thing, but going deeper the blogs and forums drive a lot of discussion, and if you don’t know they’re there you can’t possibly benefit from them.

·       11. Improve your Customer Experience: Understand and engage with customers and potential customers at each phase of the customer journey to optimize their experience and increase your conversions throughout the lifecycle.

These are only a few examples of how social listening can be used to generate insights on your customers and market. There are many additional ways listening tools can be used than what’s listed here, and the truth is we’re just scratching the surface of the possibilities they offer. We’re excited to be at the forefront of this field and look forward to playing a part in the ride that is to come.

About Sparks Research

Sparks Research is a full-service marketing research and business intelligence firm which provides the most flexible methods and high touch customer service to companies of all sizes looking for data comprehension and above-and-beyond insights. Since 1971, Sparks has translated marketing research and analytical findings into marketplace solutions for their clients, which include Fortune 100 global companies and leading national and regional companies in industries such as financial services, retail, higher education, automotive, professional services, utilities, healthcare, consumer packaged goods, telecommunications, manufacturing, and general services industries. 

Sparks Research’s services enable client partners to keep a pulse on the key aspects of their business, create winning strategies, and make data-driven decisions. Sparks has built its reputation around comprehensive capabilities, agile and innovative approach, best-in-class analytical insights and unmatched customer service. Leading edge methods are used to deliver custom solutions that answer clients’ critical business questions, going beyond traditional qualitative & quantitative to deliver unparalleled insights.  Sparks marketing research and analytical services are built around its four pillars – Customer, Consumer & Market, Concepts, Products & Services, and Employee, Associate & Organizational – and their experienced, accessible management team can handle nearly any project, including Quantitative Studies (e.g., telephone, mail, online surveys; intercept surveys; Competitive Intelligence; customer panels), Qualitative Capabilities (IDI’s; focus groups, observational research and projective techniques) and reporting.  Business Intelligence and analytical capabilities include forecasting, predictive modeling/analytics, prescriptive modeling, big data analytics, social data intelligence, price modeling, data mining, and machine learning. 

Sparks Research is located in Clemson, SC and Greenville, SC.  Find out more about the company by visiting their website –



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