4 common questions about social media listening answered

In the age of a social media explosion, more and more marketers are beginning to learn and embrace the usage of social analytics to better effectively track, assess and optimise their marketing efforts.

However, the learning curve is a relatively steep one and there still exists some knowledge gaps or misconceptions among brand marketers about the application of social analytics and social media research.

Here are some common questions encountered.

“The older folks, being my target audience, are usually not on social media. Hence, I don’t see the need to invest in much on social media spend.”

According to IDA Survey 2014, findings indicated that more and more older people are going online via smartphones. In fact, 50 to 59 age group, who said they used a smartphone to access the Internet in the last three months, increased by 30 percentage points to 76%  last year. Hence, just because the older audience are not actively commenting online, does not mean they are not consuming your brand’s social content.

“Does social media monitoring mean we monitor just social networks?”

Aside from just the major social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc), most social media monitoring tools can crawl all sorts of online websites, including forums, blogs, news sites, review sites, and others. What sets a tool apart from the competition depends on the coverage offered not just locally, but at a regional level as well. Take note that certain sites will have technical restrictions in how it can be crawled by a social listening tool.

“Am I able to rely on social listening tools to get an accurate sentiment sensing of the topics monitored online?”

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Bayesian Classification are some of the most common methods of automated sentiment analysis utilised by most social listening tools. However, the human language is a complex one. It is an uphill and difficult process of training machines to analyse and recognise local slangs or sarcasm, various grammatical nuances and culture variations.

Hence, the accuracy level at which social listening tools are able to accurately pinpoint or determine the prevailing sentiment of a discussed topic is probably likely to be only at 30% to 50%. This is why it is crucial to have an added layer of a human intervention of sentiment checking. While it may be a more manual process, the accuracy of sentiment checks will be much elevated especially when it is done by a local analyst with relevant context.

Social media research seems faster and more unbiased. Do you think we can rely on it alone for research and tracking purpose?”

Social media research cannot completely replace traditional marketing research as there still exists certain limitations of social data.

For instance, social media analytics may not include specific demographic information, such as geographic regions or professions or education levels — and some people may make up or hide their profile information. Opinions of individuals who don’t use social media may differ significantly from those that do – if only because the two groups represent different demographics.

Essentially, while it is crucial to have the digital perspective, insights gathered via social media research alone will not be the silver bullet to all your marketing questions. Instead, it should serve as an essential complement to your traditional market research findings and integrated into a brand’s overall market research framework in order to get a 360-degree perspective of your consumers.

As mentioned in Tackling the Issue of Data Integration, in order to implement and deploy “Smart Data” strategies, data integration needs to come first so that marketers can be able to properly assess, optimise and leverage the data to drive their competitive edge with more accurate and precise targeting.

This article was also featured on Marketing Interactive here

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