Thursday, May 7, 2015

Research Managers: 3 Tips on Understand What Your Target REALLY Means on Social Media

As a research manager, if a customer just tweeted s/he hates your brand on Twitter, how could you interpret it? Can you really understand what s/he means? As a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) program with an interest in market research and digital marketing, I have found two articles on festivals you will find interesting

The article "Take Command of Your Data: Understanding Audience through Social Listening" on Social Media Week by Nicole Brown makes a strong statement that understanding needs and wants is paramount to giving the people what they want. She points out research managers should think through the objective of social listening before collecting and analyzing data. The article also proposes that research managers should understand what customers are saying about the brand and take timing, trend, preferences and moods into considerations.

"9 Tools for Small Business Reputation Management and Brand Monitoring" introduces the tools and methodologies research managers can use for social listening. The author, Ken Mueller, from Inkling Media underscores the importance of brand monitoring and reputation management on social media. He claims that a holistic social strategy is way beyond simply posting on a favorable social channel. According to this standpoint, research managers should keep their ears to the ground and find out what people are saying or not saying on social media by using the right tools.

Based on these two articles and insights gained from the Northwestern Medill IMC program, I have three actionable tips research managers should consider:

  • Look beyond text. Link words and sentences to the comprehensive context in order to understand and act on the world of social media. You can glean much more useful information by integrating the text with other factors, such as channel, trend and timing. It is also effective to take a multi-phase approach – using both qualitative “listening” and quantitative “monitoring” elements. 
  • Don’t just focus on buzz sites. Understand the channels that your target customers are using and reasons why they use them, other than believing Twitter, Facebook, Google+ are the only players in the social media eco-system. Integrate customers’ opinions across channels to develop comprehensive picture of customer base. 
  • Apply the findings to your brand. Always end up with insights instead of research results. Interpret texts appropriately and make the process relevant to brands. Come up with suggestions on how to address customer concerns, encourage further feedback and adjust marketing campaigns. 

Social is here to stay. Social monitoring, listening and analytics are necessary equipment in the research managers’ toolbox. Brands need to embrace the power of social media, listen carefully to what their targets are saying, and most importantly, really understand real meanings behind the texts.

Yimin Wang is an Integrated Marking Communications candidate at Northwestern University. Interested in marketing research and digital marketing, she is working on understanding consumers – their behaviors, attitudes, and tensions - in the digital, social and mobile context.

Contact her via Twitter and LinkedIn.

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