Social listening has been an emerging topic that has seen widespread adoption throughout 2015, with 43 percent of market research firms currently using the technique and 33 percent actively exploring ways to implement it, according to GreenBook. Media mentions of social listening have also steadily increased throughout 2015, as evidenced by Google trends.
With so many agencies actively using or pursuing social listening capabilities, it may come as a shock to learn that many of these agencies still struggle with wielding social listening as an effective tool. Some have managed to master it, but others fall flat when trying to yield actionable insights from social.
Demystify what separates good social listening practices from bad ones by taking these five important steps in order to improve your social media analytics research:
1. Go Beyond Simple Keywords
Data cleaning is an unfortunate reality when it comes to implementing high-quality social data. Some researchers are reluctant to be thorough with the process because they may end up with an unsatisfactory quantity of data points left over.
One way to make this task more productive is to spread the net a little wider. Include related keywords as well as misspellings and common abbreviations for the intended keyword. Filter out responses that superficially seem to be using the keyword in a relevant way, but are really using a homophone or different context. Your results will mean even more data to sift through, but you will uncover more valuable nuggets in the process.
2. Ask the Right Questions
Going into a social analytics task with too narrow or too broad of a research question can lead to failure when it comes time to produce a concrete answer. Stick to topics of discussion that are not too niche in order to find the needed quantity of data. For example, focus on discussion of an entire product niche rather than just your brand’s or your client’s brand’s products alone.
3. Longitudinal Studies Need Solid Benchmarks
For social listening projects that intend to measure change over time, realize that everything is relative in the social world. Mentions of Hunger Games versus Maze Runner may pale in comparison to mentions of Harry Potter. Establish benchmarks before measuring begins to keep your focal perspective properly aligned. These benchmarks will also help you qualify whether tested relationships are normal, weak or strong.
4. Distrust Automated Social Listening Tools
Automation tools for social listening seems like a great shortcut at first, but can end up being more trouble than they are worth. Look for APIs that can be customized, or build your own algorithms and then automate them. Going the extra step could mean the difference between success and pure frustration.
5. Mind the Red Tape
Certain socially-broadcasted information will be off-limits even if it is publicly available. For instance, collecting any information that can be used to identify minors will attract government scrutiny. Clear your social listening activities with legal, or entrust a professional market research company who can traverse the legal minefield for you.
You can learn more techniques to improve your social listening and general data collection in 2016 by reading our report on the six keys to accelerating growth through field data collection.