A guest post by David Rabjohns of MotiveQuest.
Imagine you are assigned to build a house. You are given a drawing of what the house should look like when you’re done. You have a giant pile of the tools, lumber, and other materials the professionals say you need. You may even have a small team of people ready to help. What’s missing, however, is obvious: a blueprint. Even armed with the latest edition of “Home Construction for Dummies,” most people would find this task terrifying.
This analogy likely strikes a chord with marketers assigned to social media listening. You may know what you want to get out of it and have all the data needed, but without clear instructions on how to interpret and analyze the data, you won’t complete the project successfully.
Social media listening tools, services, and dashboards that help us count brand mentions, generate new followers, and build new “likes” attempt to measure our social media investments. These tools are gaining popularity quickly, and marketers are rushing to claim proficiency… even if they don’t fully understand them. But what do these numbers really mean? What insights are they designed to provide? How effective are social media dashboards in helping us drive sales or create advocates?
At MotiveQuest, we recently analyzed the questions that our Fortune 500 clients asked us this year and compiled a list of the top 30 questions that marketers want to answer through social research.
The top five are:
- Where are people talking about my brand?
- How should I change my messaging?
- How much buzz do I have vs. competition/trend?
- How do they feel about us vs. the competition?
- Quantify the biggest brand topics.
After looking at the broad categories of questions marketers consistently ask of social media research, we found they are focused on comparing their brands to their competition (37%) and exploring what their customers care about most in the category (27%). This is followed by interest in media planning (24%), questions about communications strategy (e.g., how should I position my brand) and new product development (3%).
Answering these questions requires much more than just tracking brand mentions. It requires analysis of the data to extract the key insights that can have a valuable impact on business.
Interestingly enough, in some categories, such as food, 95% of the conversations don’t mention a brand. So it is crucial for businesses to explore the other dimensions of the discussion. That’s where the brand-monitoring tools and methodologies fall down.
We need to dig deeper to answer the questions that matter to customers.
Everyone—in every country and culture—is directed by a similar set of needs, desires for such opportunities as accomplishment, adventure, connectedness, creativity, play, wisdom, transformation, and/or other motivations. By listening to the conversations of consumers across social networks, we can detect what motivates them about a particular category of products or services.
For example, car shoppers may make one car manufacturer a success and a close competitor a flop because the consumers are not seeking fuel efficiency but want a vehicle that allows them to save the world. One apparel company’s efforts to infuse its brand with an adventurous image may enable it to win out over a competitor that is slightly superior in quality but fails to tie in to the market’s motivations.
Marketers seek answers to their questions to help shape their communications strategies, and they are discovering that dashboards are inefficient. Dashboards do offer a huge amount of data; however, they leave marketers without the blueprints to build meaningful, actionable insights.
The key to finding the answers is to do more than just ask, “What are people saying about my brand?” You also need to take the time to first create a blueprint with the questions you really need to ask.
(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Beautiful Woman with Questioning Expression)
David Rabjohns is CEO of MotiveQuest.