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Social Listening Can Help Brands Derive Actionable Insights

Using social data isn’t a new concept, but confusion remains about how to best use it

February 24, 2016

For brand marketers, tracking social data is not a new trend or strategy. Some research shows that marketers have tapped into social analytics and use it with clear business objectives in mind, as explored in a new eMarketer report, “Social Listening for US Brands: Deriving Actionable Insights from Conversations.” A Q2 2015 Altimeter Group survey, for instance, found that nearly half of social media professionals polled worldwide used social insights to make informed business decisions about products, employees, customers and more.

Leading Resources Used by Marketing Executives in North America* to Better Understand Their Customers, Prospects and Markets, Q4 2015 (% of respondents)

Conversely, and somewhat surprisingly, there is other research showing that many brands are not convinced that social data can advance their company’s strategy. In fact, a July 2015 survey of business/technology managers worldwide from the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network found that only 29% thought social media data mining offered a competitive advantage.

One of the more basic, passive forms of social listening is social monitoring—tracking social conversations that directly reference a brand, either with a formal tag or on a brand’s owned channels, such as a Facebook page or Instagram profile. Chelsea Marti, director of strategy and services at social experience management provider Sprinklr, said: “Brands typically look at their owned social channels, existing customers or users already interacting with them in an inbound way. Monitoring is keeping an eye on things, being aware of what’s happening.”

US Marketing Executives Who Agree that Most Data Obtained Through Social Media Monitoring Is Not Actionable, May 2015 (% of respondents)

Just more than half of US marketers surveyed in July 2015 by Researchscape for content marketing software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider Skyword used social media monitoring technology. However, there is also a divide around monitoring’s value. In a May 2015 Marketing Executives Network Group (MENG) study, 39.2% of US marketing executives maintained that the data was not actionable. About the same percentage disagreed with this statement, meaning that they found the data from social media monitoring to be actionable. Nearly a quarter didn’t have an opinion either way.

In order for the data they obtain to be actionable, a brand cannot be passive in its approach. Rather, it must have a firm grasp on how to find the right conversations, how to ask questions and locate answers from that data and then interpret them.

eMarketer corporate subscription clients can view the full report here.

Get more on this topic with the full eMarketer report, “Social Listening for US Brands: Deriving Actionable Insights from Conversations.”

eMarketer releases over 200 analyst reports per year, which are only available to eMarketer corporate subscribers.


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