Could your business benefit from social listening?

Social media has always been a core part of the Sookio offering, focusing on training, consultancy and managing social media updates. This year we're adding a complementary service: social media listening.

For large enterprises, particularly those who are public-facing organisations in retail, telecoms, software, financial services and the public sector, it's an incredible opportunity  to get essential, unfiltered feedback from the people using your product or service.

Dan Spicer, former Head of Social Marketing and Community, EMEA, at Hootsuite, talks through the benefits and highlights three businesses who have used social listening to their advantage.

1. Social listening helps you understand your audience 

By monitoring the conversations people are having across forums and social media platforms means that as a marketer you have instant access to what your audience is talking about, what they’re sharing, and generally consuming online.

Brands are finding that the sheer amount of content out there is making it harder and harder to get people’s attention. In turn, you need to produce higher-quality content than the competition, and a big part of this hinges on making it personalised to the individuals you're targeting.

Using social listening, you can look at how audience behaviour differs on each social platform. This includes preferred topics and individual usage behaviours (what day of week and time of day are they posting?), letting you tailor your content strategy accordingly.

You can create custom audience profiles that segment people based on location, subjects of interest, or how recently they’ve engaged with you. From this, you can start to understand audiences on a much deeper level than through using basic analytics.

2. Spot opportunities for product development 

Social data can help in various stages of the product development (and improvement) cycle, providing quicker, detailed feedback at scale. It can help with both feedback on existing products and idea generation for new ones.

If you’re looking for feedback on a current product, a survey can only give surface answers to questions you’ve come up with yourself. With social data, the unfiltered nature of organic conversations means there can be insights lurking which you hadn’t thought of asking about. You can't control what people are saying on Twitter! But this is a good thing, because you may be able to spot an opportunity to develop a product to suit your customers' needs.

You can also go back into the data and ask new questions as you dig and develop. So, if you’ve had a new product feature idea, you can look at the historical data (up to eight years in the past) and see if there is any conversation to support it.

3. Social listening gives you consumer insights 

Traditional market research is not pliable. It takes time and has a very short shelf life. The benefit of social is it's a live focus group. You determine the rules. It's direct, it's instant, and unfiltered.

Social media allows researchers to examine massive volumes of both current and historical organic behaviours simply, and at a far lower cost than traditional methods. 

Case studies

Let's take a look at how social listening works in practice.

Barclays: Product and service development

Barclays launched a mobile banking app called PingIt. Using social listening and sentiment analysis they noticed a proportion of mentions were negative; specifically that users were unhappy that the app didn’t work for under 18s.

It wasn’t only teenagers that were unhappy, but also the parents that couldn’t transfer money to them. Within a week, 16 and 17-year-olds were given access to the app, averting a PR disaster and improving their product.

Nespresso: Brand and content strategy

Nespresso were looking to inform brand campaigns through audience analysis and insights. Using social listening they identified audience affinities to give a unique picture of Nespresso’s customers and their interests in comparison to a competitor, Keurig.

Audience attributes surfaced that Nespresso attracts a more affluent customer base who like Nespresso’s luxurious feel, while Kuerig is more aligned with parents and affordable family values. These insights provided the crucial context of how to engage with customers and develop messaging that resonated.

Knowing that their target audience had an affinity for luxury, Nespresso released a set of commercials featuring Penelope Cruz and the music of Lana Del Rey that emphasised class and luxury. We can see conversations and topics surrounding these ads resonating on social.

Global Marine: Competitive intelligence

Global Marine target a very niche audience in the submarine communications cables industry, and as you might expect, have very few competitors. Therefore, regular press mentions with targeted publications help to establish the company as experts, and they rely on this PR activity to continually drive brand exposure.

Global Marine uses real-time social listening to monitor and benchmark online share of voice. More specifically, they track any particular spikes and bursts in competitive activity driven by PR.

This activity is then fed back into marketing teams monthly and identified journalists are added to targeting lists to ensure Global Marine are always front of mind with key news outlets in the industry. 

How social listening and intelligence can support your brand

Product development

 Track organic feedback on products and services.

 Collect ideas and inspiration from an unprecedented wealth of public thought.

 Analyse historical comments around competitive or adjacent products and services.

Market research

 Break down specific language to identify and track the dialogue surrounding market trends.

 Identify and track the opinions and behaviours of specific audiences.

 Profile audiences’ online behaviours and attributes such as platform usage and topic engagement.

Campaign Measurement

 Track the public response to campaigns in real-time, segmenting topics as they arise.

 Compare campaign performance against competitor or historical campaigns.

Customer Care

 Instantly categorise complaints to the appropriate customer care representative.

 Track social customer service performance through response rates and effectiveness.


Competitive intelligence 

 Analyse historical successes, as well as maintain real-time surveillance of competitors’ activity.

 Identify competitive advantages through competitor brands’ unique strengths and weaknesses.


 Identify the most valuable influencers for a specific audience.

 Track the effectiveness of an influencer program.

Social listening for smaller businesses

I’ve talked a lot about huge brands feeling the benefit of tapping into an existing conversation, but what about new companies? Even a startup with no traction can benefit greatly (potentially more so) from social listening. 

The most valuable areas here are audience analysis; looking at platform usage, brand affinities, highly engaged content, and demographic breakdowns. All of this combined information can then be used to early-stage development, making sure you’re aligned with customer needs and expectations.

For startups, traditional focus groups can be time and labour-intensive, expensive, and not always reliable. Social listening can dish the dirt on how their intended audience really feels, without them feeling under pressure to offer a particular answer. Social listening is the difference between asking a question and eavesdropping on a conversation.

Are you ready to reap the rewards of social listening? Could your brand benefit from putting a digital ear to the door of public opinion? Talk to Sookio about our brand new offering today.