Public Relations Tactics

When Social Listening Isn’t Sufficient

August 4, 2017

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At a recent industry conference, Joyce Boland, vice president of global applications marketing at Oracle, discussed the need for “smarketers” — people who can bridge the divide between data and marketing to tell the right data stories, while communicating what the numbers mean in an impactful way for key decision-makers and stakeholders.

As digital research and analytics professionals, we are in the greatest position to plug this gap, and the best way for us to do it is by taking advantage of the multiple data sources at our disposal to guide and counsel our clients.

Evolving beyond social listening

Several years ago, organizations began using data and insights gathered via social listening to drive business strategies, analyze potential threats, and assess how consumers and stakeholders think and feel about brands. This was a major shift in the industry as technology companies provided us with a platform to aggregate and synthesize the millions of conversations people have across social platforms — something never before available at such a large scale.

Fast forward to 2017 and most organizations are using ongoing, real-time social listening to mine for content creation opportunities, stay abreast of industry trends and monitor conversations around brands and competitors. Social listening is also being used as a research technique to benchmark what “good” looks like, and to measure the shift in conversation and perception over time.
 
While this approach continues to be valuable, a more holistic method is needed. Organizations need to start building on their social listening data with data from other sources to gain a more well-rounded understanding of sentiment, intent and behavior across consumers and stakeholders.

For instance, at Ketchum we recently deployed social listening to understand what consumers were saying about one of our technology clients as a brand overall. Within this particular analysis, we also considered media coverage regarding the company and its key product categories, as well as data on content performance across their owned social channels to understand which tactics and content themes were driving true, meaningful engagement with their audiences. The intersection of these three data sources led us to a strong and simple strategy that could be translated across products to build brand love among consumers.

This example is very specific, and channel, online and social listening are just a few sources we can tap into while doing research. Recently, we’ve also used data from sales channels, surveys, CRM systems, and searches to help our clients understand where they are and what they can do to get where they want to be. For each of these situations, a customized approach should be created based on the aim of the project. It’s important to tailor our strategy to ensure we are pulling the right data from the right places to make recommendations that meet business goals and objectives.

Moving up the strategy chain

As researchers, we know the value of this type of work is high. However, we need to find a way to better communicate this to our internal and external clients. Multifaceted research projects can cost more money, take more time and can be more difficult to explain in comparison with something as simple as a social listening analysis.

The most successful strategy for “making the sell” is to focus on the stakeholder, and position the research output as key in supporting what they’re trying to accomplish in their role. This will not only increase buy-in, but can also help position public relations and communications as core in driving the overall business strategy forward.

Across the industry, PR professionals are trying to earn a place at the table with the C-Suite decision makers. By using data from a variety of sources, we can push ourselves up the strategy chain to where we ha

Erin Salisbury

Erin Salisbury is a senior project manager with Ketchum Digital Research & Analytics in London (a division of KGRA), and works with clients in digital research, measurement and analytics methodologies for clients across the CPG, health, corporate and technology sectors.

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