Every minute of every day, millions of pieces of content are uploaded online. In fact, YouTube reports that a staggering 500 hours of video is uploaded onto their platform every 60 seconds, which is only the tip of the social and editorial iceberg. This information overload can make it time-consuming and challenging to sift through content and find what is relevant to your brand.
Of course, this bombardment of news, entertainment and information means brands are competing heavily for attention, and it can feel nearly impossible to stand out among the crowd. Over and above this, brands don’t typically have the time or resources to actively engage on social, and tend to use these platforms for shouting rather than listening. This is where an important opportunity exists to start gaining the competitive edge.
Of course, each region varies in terms of activity and behaviour. And, consumer engagement with brands is heavily influenced by culture, capacity, access, legislation and relevance. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Dubai is a particularly exciting environment to explore when it comes to understanding social listening in the context of brand promotion, given the widespread adoption of social technology, in a landscape of censorship and regulation.
“Given the high internet penetration in the market, it doesn't come as a surprise that social media plays a stellar role in reaching the end user, be it through targeted social media ads or through geo and demographic targeted programmatic ads. Over the years, social media channels in the UAE have become niche to specific audiences, like snapchat for teens, Facebook and IG towards earning population and now TikTok for entertainment focused audience”, says Saleem Sharma, Head of Social Media for Zoom Property in Dubai.
And, when it comes to our current media landscape and the kinds of challenges marketers face every day, Sharma summarises it well: “Targeted brand-specific content aimed at different sections of the population according to various niches (nationality, gender, age, area of living, etc.) remains the biggest challenge”.
So, with this in mind, how do we expand our consumer research, break through the noise and ultimately identify new opportunities for brand growth and lead conversion? The short answer: Through social listening.
Social media listening tools allow companies to track, manage and analyse billions of ever-changing data points, to learn from and, ultimately, form better strategic decision making processes. Let’s tuck into the basics of social media listening and how you can use it to benefit your business and brand.
Social media listening generally refers to a deep analysis of your brand on platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. With Meltwater, there are over 15 primary social platforms to track, over and above podcasts, broadcasts and even print media (but that is a post for another day).
The point of “listening” is to make sure you never miss a mention, you’re able to see where people are speaking about your brand online and you can join the conversation. But there are a range of ways to creatively and logically use this practice to entirely elevate your marketing efforts.
With an AI-driven social media listening tool, businesses can:
With the incorporation of AI and machine learning into social media monitoring tools, data is automated and analysis is presented in a user-friendly way in real-time; making it simpler to draw insights from massive amounts of data.
With social media platforms constantly increasing in usage, there is an ever-growing trail of digital breadcrumbs, which companies can use to best analyse their audience and understand their needs. With their own, specific audience, content and purpose, companies can tweak and hone marketing strategies that fulfil consumer needs and showcase their brand.
But beyond that, we know that our market is heavily influenced by, well, influencers and this is one of the key functions of a social media listening tool. You can identify and partner with loyal brand followers or influential figures.
“Influencer marketing is a critical weapon in a marketer's arsenal, especially in the UAE. You have a limited audience to target, and you want to do it in the best manner possible. Influencers bring with themselves content which has a watermark of their own personality and which has a loyal dedicated following. With the advent of tools which can help you engage with influencers, it has become quintessential for social media marketers to explore these avenues even more” says Sharma.
Through social listening, you can search for top posts about specific topics, which will lead you to the influential figures taking part.
Above: Influencer Zahra Abdallah (@cookingwithZahra) has over 187,000 followers on Instagram.
Although the word “Insight” has an ambiguous meaning, marketing and communications professionals understand it to mean consumer-focused interpretations of data. The range of benefits that can be extracted from interpreting data to gain meaningful insights is almost immeasurable, but seeing as we’re in the business of measurement:
Social media monitoring tools combined with market studies workwell in unison, with marketing studies providing quantitative data on emerging trends from social insights, and social media listening tools providing more qualitative analyses of target audience sentiment. Essentially, this means a well-rounded research and implementation strategy that factors in everything your numbers’ people and high-level strategists need.
Quantitative data offers numbers to prove general research, while qualitative data provides the details and depth to understand their implications. To fully comprehend the data and offer the most useful road maps, both of these complementary components play a role.
1. Quantitative Data tells us what is going on
Quantitative data can be divided into two categories:
2. Qualitative Data helps us understand why this is happening
Qualitative data is gathered by listening to online consumer exchanges and conversations, which helps companies better understand the numbers.
In a marketing context, the most useful types of qualitative data are arguably sentiment and trend analysis.
On networks: Most social media networks have their own statistics and analysis tool, which users can access through their business profile. This data is a good way to gauge the performance of your profile and posts for a high-level overview but of course, more in-depth analysis will give you the competitive edge and new use cases you didn’t even know existed, with basic listening.
With engagement management tools: These tools provide an automated, more advanced analysis for a deeper understanding of the data, which can be implemented - usually from one platform - and posts can be scheduled for targeted audiences. The data can also be used to measure the impact of media strategies and as a benchmark against competitors.
With listening tools: These give insight into your current community but also competitors and wider industry audiences. They allow you comprehensive functionality to actively seek out content that’s relevant to your brand and to understand how, why, when and where it is consumed and the effects of this consumption.
“The brands which are breaking new grounds on social media aren't doing it just by promoting their products or services in a unique manner, but by listening to what's happening in the online space as well in the real world and creating content which resonates sentiments around these occurrences. When customers realize this, they want to engage, they want to discuss among themselves a lasting impact that such a content has. THIS is what brands should aim for” says Sharma.
So, with this in mind - how do we effectively put social media into practice and what are the various ways in which brands can get ahead in the UAE through listening?
“There's no other way [social media tools] to ensure return on ad investment, quality of users for our apps, customer health and journey and content effectiveness. I shudder to think of a marketing world that simply functioned on big billboards and estimated eyeballs” says Brett Magill, Global Social Media Manager.
Ready to get your social listening campaign off the ground? Follow our step-by-step process.
At the end of the day, you can’t put a price on going above and beyond to support your social strategy in Dubai or the broader United Arab Emirates. The resources are here, the demand for quality content is here. The opportunity to observe and learn not only exists but is created by the pressing need to analyse our intricate market. A world of exciting opportunity undeniably exists for brands willing to go the extra mile.