Social media listening emerged as one of the most popular strategies for rapidly gaining information about consumers’ changing preferences.
Just over half (51%) of companies surveyed turned to social media listening platforms to learn about consumers’ changing preferences, habits, and expectations during the Covid-19 epidemic, according to research from Gartner.
Only third-party sources of consumer research, cited by 62% of respondents, ranked higher. Many companies (43%) also cited employees such as customer service reps and sales who report customer concerns.
A Real-Time Firehose of Customer Sentiment
“Social media is a real-time firehose of customer sentiment, but be careful to consider how much the audience on Twitter, Facebook, or TikTok match your customer’s demographics and psychographics,” cautions Augie Ray, Gartner vice president analyst covering customer experience (CX) for marketing and CX leaders.
Reports from employees about customers can be skewed by employees’ own needs, stresses, and perspective, Ray says.
Only a quarter of respondents indicated they use “voice of customer” or survey platforms. Many brands paused their regular relationship surveys to avoid bothering customers during these periods of stress.
“Social listening gives us the right depth of insight to help answer larger business questions,” Brian Wright, social media listening and intelligence leader at Wells Fargo, told eMarketer.
Wells Fargo has a real-time listening team that focuses on daily conversations and a “deep-listening” team that focuses on research and analysis. The best strategies for determining social media listening ROI are customized approaches that include business goals and outcomes.
“For instance, if we are able to help take a product to market more effectively because we provided listening insights, that’s a win,” Wright told eMarketer. “Also, if we’re able to help improve certain ad campaigns because we’re using social listening in-flight, or even pre-campaign, it’s going to help ensure that our content is going to be more relevant.”
Social Media Listening Benefits During Covid-19 Crisis
Besides considering a brand’s quality, service and price, customers now take into account how safe they feel when entering an establishment. Media monitoring and measurement can analyze the effectiveness of PR efforts by revealing how frequently key Covid-19 safety messages appear before the desired audiences.
Some companies have found that social media listening can also gauge their employees’ mental health and feelings about returning to offices.
In addition, healthcare organizations have found that social media listening provides a wealth of information that improves their PR and marketing strategies and their Covid-19 research and patient treatment efforts.
Although spending has plunged, consumers will likely continue to watch how brands respond to the Covid-19 crisis. Companies and brands that emphasize customer well-being, rather than sales, can build consumer trust and increase positive sentiment toward their organizations and brands, setting the groundwork for future prosperity.
Bottom Line: Companies favor social media listening as a leading method for gathering information about consumers’ fast-changing attitudes during the current uncertain times. Social media monitoring and analytics provide a wealth of real-time data that organizations can use to adjust their products, services and PR and marketing messages.
Michael Kling is manager of public relations, marketing and social media at Glean.info, a media monitoring and measurement service that provides customized media monitoring and PR analytics solutions.