It’s November 2020 - eleven months into dealing with the shocks and disruptions brought about by the pandemic. Consumer behavior has undoubtedly been altered and people are settling into a “new normal” way of consumption, and we believe many of these changes will remain permanent even as economies and markets reopen.
But one thing we know for sure — consumers are becoming more “social”. As physical interactions are restricted by lockdowns and social distancing, consumers are spending significantly more time on social media platforms to consume content, engage, and communicate with each other.
Before the pandemic hit, brands like Panasonic and Google have already been tapping into social media data to understand the voice of the consumers. Consumers have been engaging in billions of social media conversations sharing what they ate, what they bought, their emotions and opinions, and are now doing so on a much wider scale because of the pandemic. With vast increase in social media data points available, developing the voice of consumers has never been more refined, accurate and actionable.
Not only are consumers engaging in more conversations on social media, the power of social media to influence real-world behaviors have heightened as well. Recent Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” paints a grim picture of this very phenomenon. The Black Lives Matter Movement and #cancelculture are prime examples of how social media conversations have the ability to change our daily realities on a drastic scale - for the better or worse.
When companies don’t (social) listen
The perception that social media has little impact on the realities of your consumers is a dangerous one. Without a firm understanding of the latest social media movements and conversations, brands risk launching tone-deaf campaigns that rub their consumers the wrong way. Take the Virus Vanguard campaign, a COVID-19 campaign by Gov.sg earlier this year that was taken down a day after its launch. At a time where fear and uncertainty about the pandemic was at an all time high in Singapore, using humour to convey a public message while well-meaning, was a mismatch to the psyche of the Singaporean public. This is why it is crucial for marketing communications teams to pay attention to even the smallest murmurs on social media.
How brands can leverage social media data:
There has never been a more important time to think about how your brand can tap into social media data points to guide your marketing campaigns and strategy. For a start, here are the three most common use cases practised by our clients:
Use Case 1: Trend Analysis
Setting Hypothesis and Parameters
For those unfamiliar with social media listening tools, it begins with identifying a certain hypothesis that you would like to prove or disprove. Maybe you want to find out if people were relieved or angry about certain government initiatives or announcements regarding COVID-19, what people are saying about your brand or competitors, or how people are feeling about a certain event. This hypothesis will then shape your boolean search which is a structure of keywords and filters that enables users to pull out the most accurate and relevant information to their search.
In this example, we took a look at conversations surrounding Christmas in the Philippines. Our hypothesis was “COVID-19 has had an impact on Christmas plans in the Philippines” and we wanted to see if it was true and the reasons behind the outcome. The Boolean search shown above will capture all social media mentions talking about Christmas made by Filipinos and compare data between August 2020 vs August 2019. Meltwater’s Social Listening platform pulled out a total of 478K mentions on Christmas by Filipinos this year.
From Insights to Swift Action
Once this boolean search has been set up, users would be able to know how many conversations there were and pick up even the smallest upticks in the volume of social media conversations around the topic they are interested to monitor — in real-time. In the case of Christmas in the Philippines in 2020 (blue line) we notice two large spikes on the 1st of September, which is the start of the Ber Months (Countdown to Christmas Day) and on the 5th of September.
But the analysis doesn’t stop at identifying peaks in conversations. Naturally, the next question any marketers would ask is: What is causing the spikes?
On Meltwater’s social listening tool, clicking on points on the time graph would filter for conversations on that single day. Even better, our analytics dashboard provides vital information like “Trending Themes” and “Top Hashtags” (among many others)
Marketers can then draw relevant insights about what their consumers are most concerned or excited about. These insights represent the voice of your consumers and can be used to empower both marketing and non-marketing actions - from content marketing to product development.
Use Case 2: Social Analytics for Campaign Measurement
2020 is the year the world officially went digital. Going digital and relying on online marketing channels has become a critical necessity for many brands. As such, another social listening use case our clients find particularly helpful is campaign measurement. Companies who do not have the right measurement tools and processes set up are now forced to look for one.
As the first step for many brands, Google Analytics is a useful platform to understand the impact of your campaigns on website traffic. Meltwater’s Social Listening tool complements this data set by adding another important layer to your campaign measurement framework.
These are some widgets available on Meltwater’s platform. Having these choices gives our users the flexibility to define their social media campaign goals and metrics
1. Track volume of conversations across different social channels
Let’s look at this example of the recent reality show “The Asian Dream”. The main sponsor of the program, Subaru, wanted to track awareness and reactions to the show on social media. With Meltwater Social Listening Tool, not only are they able to track how much social media conversations the show created, which is a great indicator of its popularity, they are also able to see how the conversation breaks down on individual social media channels. Understanding which platform is generating the most buzz and conversations about your brand can help you strategize your next steps. For example, if they had the most conversations on Twitter, it would make sense to engage with the show’s fans and viewers on that platform.
2. Google Analytics Integration
Tracking website traffic is a great indicator of the impact of your campaigns. Overlaying this data with the number of articles and social media conversations generated about your brand or product better demonstrates the impact of your PR and marketing efforts. If there is a visual correlation between social media buzz generated by your campaigns and total number of web visits, marketers can convince and present the value of their work to stakeholders.
3. PESO Analysis
PESO model is a measurement framework widely known amongst modern PR and Marcomms professionals. It looks at media efforts through these four lenses - paid, earned, shared and owned. Data from owned and paid channels are relatively simple to track, these data would often be visible to you on your platforms. The struggle that many marketers face is to track earned media - content around your brand that was organically generated by the public.
Meltwater Social Media Listening tool allows users to track your earned media and understand its contribution to social media chatter about your brand. In this case of “The Asian Dream”, Subaru would be happy to know that the majority of their conversations are actually fan driven. This means they are reaching new audiences that aren’t currently following their owned pages.
Use Case 3: Crisis Management
The consumer-brand relationship has evolved to become more personal and emotional over the years. Consumers perceive brands as active forces within society with huge influences and hence, hold brands to a much higher standard than before, This means that consumers are more critical of brands and quick to react to any inappropriate or tone deaf brand messaging, especially if it conflicts with their own values. Social media compounds this effect by inviting more people to contribute to the discussion. Just look at all the brands who have been #cancelled this year.
This is a challenge that all brands have to be ready for, even if you have been closely listening to your consumer voice, carefully crafting your brand messaging and training your employees on dos and don’ts. With social media, the risk is always there as a single social media post can blow up into a full crisis in a matter of hours.
Meltwater’s crisis alerts tool is a great way to prepare for and mitigate these effects. Similar to trend jacking, it involves setting up a Boolean search that would capture all information about your brand, products or industry. If it detects something out of the norm, for example a higher volume of conversation that usually (these filters are typically pre-set by you), users will receive an alert on their mobile. This instant notification often gives marketing communications managers ample time to respond if needed. Furthermore, our analytic features such as sentiment analysis and trending themes would paint a more clearer picture of what is happening on the ground.
Preparing for the Next Normal
Everything you know about your consumers has changed. And the way to keep up is to be where your audience is at - and our research tells us that they are on social media. At its core, Meltwater’s social listening tool gives you the flexibility to define your search parameters, collect real-time social media data, and structure them into strategic insights. The possibilities of what marketing teams can do - beyond the three use cases of trend analysis, campaign measurement and crisis management - are endless.