Social Media Listening: from meaninglessness to indigestion

by bold-lichterman

Social networks are a fantastic opportunity to capture and listen to the voice of the customer. The volume of conversations is such that weak signals and trends can be detected on any subject.

Companies are not mistaken and have become greedy in terms of dashboards and other “insights”. Gluttonous, in my opinion to the point of indigestion or even nausea. Indeed, data is a fantastic tool on two conditions:

  • Know what you are looking for. When you don’t know what you’re looking for, you measure anything and everything, you are overwhelmed with dashboards for zero results.

  • We need clean data from a representative population.

Let me tell you that in terms of marketing studies, it rarely happens that both conditions are met.

Lacking maturity on the subject, companies tend to want to measure anything and everything, if only to reassure themselves or because the marketing department does not want to be reproached for not having followed a subject. A variant of the famous “fear of missing out” which explains the inability of many employees to manage their information flow, which here affects decision-making.

Then who can say that the population of social networks is representative of a given customer segment? First of all, we rarely have qualified socio-demographic data on the participants. Then the “opinion makers”, influencers and people really active on social networks in terms of content and opinion production represent a maximum of 10% of the mass of users and listening to them can lead to overweight the importance of a population. Even to give weight to the words of people who are not and will never be customers of a given company, product or service.

It is therefore with pleasure and interest that I discovered this recent white paper from Visionary Marketing which goes exactly in the direction of what I have seen while offering an alternative approach or, rather, complementary to “social media listening” “.

To keep only the main lines of the document that I advise you of course to read in its entirety with the greatest attention:

  • The difficulty of qualifying individuals and the fact that all brands do not by their nature generate the same volume of conversation on social networks introduces many biases in social media listening.

  • Added to this is the opacity of the algorithms used, which leaves some doubts about the quality of the insights and their “actionable” nature.

  • Social media listening is in fact an approach rich in lessons but which is not without limits, limits that are often overlooked when presenting the results.

  • An effective and viable approach would amount to “hybridizing” the model: by mixing social media listening and more traditional panel approaches, more qualitative we manage to multiply the points of observation, put the data from the networks into perspective and give them more depth. In short, this makes it possible to better qualify and improve the signal / noise ratio.

A very interesting approach at a time when the hype surrounding big data leads to measuring anything and everything, without an objective and with results that cannot be acted upon. The best of all possible worlds is not the old or the new, but the mixture of two approaches that complement each other rather than oppose each other.

bertrand-duperrinBertrand Duperrin is Digital Transformation Practice Leader at Emakina. He was previously Consulting Director at Nextmodernity, a firm in the field of business transformation and management through social business and the use of social technologies.

He regularly deals with social media news on his blog.

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