Will Social Listening Tool Be Enough ?

By Wan Faranaquiah

Nowadays, company that embraced digital marketing use social listening tool to listen to their customer conversation online, monitoring keywords while the main focus is to use all the data that is produced by the tool to create engaging content or advertisement.

For small companies, they would usually use Sprout Social, Sendible, Hoot Suite, Buffer and other social media management platform that offers social listening service. More complex listening tool such as Brandwatch, Crimson Hexagon, Synthesis, Radian6 and others are used by major companies.

The race is focused on, who has the most data and be able to decipher it will win. But the next problem comes when there are abundance of data that were extracted from the social listening tool but fail to deliver because they do not have the ability or skill to actually glean the data. I would like to quote a speech from AdoiTV interview with the former CEO Malaysia IPG Mediabrands that would best describe the situation.

” In digital marketing there are tons of data but limited insight or relevant storytelling for a brand. What we need is a new level of datasense, among marketing practitioners that are able to glean powerful insight from the huge data and can develop idea in powerful ways. ” – Prashant Kumar, ENTROPIA.

In order to decipher the data, we need an actual human with common sense to separate “relevant” from “ridiculous,” or they will spend more time digging through the results than building from them. At this point, brain does beat algorithm.

My next question is, will it be enough? Do we have to rely on all the figures and numbers to limit our creativity to reach for the powerful ideas?

When I was asked to craft idea and a plan for social media strategy for a company, I use 4 approach:

The first one, I looked into the data that is provided by the company and combining it with data from social listening tool. I would not rely totally on all of the data to form an idea on the strategy.

The second one, knowing that the target audience are millennials. I have decided to have a number of rides using Uber. Majority of Uber drivers are millennials, some of them work the day off from 9-5 and at night they drive to earn pocket money to accommodate their lifestyle.

The third one, is by doing the old school method of research by doing questionnaire. The online questionnaire is distribute among 100 active participants online.

The fourth one, is by observing the social media trend on the internet. What type of content and strategy that draws engagement from the millennial.

My approach is combining the data that is produced by the social listening tool, trend observation, leveraging it with the real conversation and the questionnaire. By using all of the four method, I try to connect each of them, find the relevancy, form idea and craft a plan. Each are the missing puzzle from the big picture.

Next, I would like to highlight the decision that has been made by Ogilvy & Mather which is a global advertising & marketing agency based in London. They mark the year 2017 by doing things in a new way. Which is why they are launching an initiative called Get Out There.

” We’re sending all our planners rogue. Every month, they will get on a train. And visit Bradford. Torquay. Grimsby. North, south, west, east (and we don’t mean Bethnal Green). Bustling urban centres and remote rural outposts. They will go out into the streets and talk to people. Real people. Take a hypothesis. Test it. And report back. Not with PowerPoint slides. But with photos, video, words. ” Ogilvy Mather UK

These days, most planners and creative main source of research is from the internet or other secondary data. They are more inclined to hide behind a laptop than go out and have an actual conversation.

Obviously to me, they are sending the message that data from listening tool is not enough to empower their decision.

One more thing that intrigued me, what is the listening and observation skill that is used by an ordinary person to become an influencer. Do they also rely on social listening tool ? I don’t think they have one from the beginning.

Why influencer are successful to get more reach, attention, engagement and trust. I believe, he really know and understand the audience and to me, he himself is the one who he is listening. He answer to his own question the way he wanted it to be answered.

He is the audience, he lives among the audience and he is close to the audience. This is why their listening and observation can surpass any tools. Sometimes we need the touch of human tools. Be among them might actually work.

I believe that we must not limit our input from social listening and observation tool only. Instead we must explore and open our possibilities of new way of listening.

I would say social listening tool still help but to complete, it must be paired with human listening and observation. The message is indeed clear, if you are not listening, you are not learning.