SMIP 03: How to Set Up a Social Listening Strategy

SMIP 03 Transcription - How to Set Up a Social Media Listening Strategy


Intro: Welcome to the Social Media Intelligence podcast. Where we discuss real life case studies of how businesses have turned social media data into business strategy and decisions.

Mireille Ryan: Welcome to the Social Media Intelligence podcast brought to you by NUVI, the world's most stunning social media marketing suite. I'm Mireille Ryan, CEO of the Social Media Marketing Institute and founder of Social Intelligence HQ, a social listening strategy and intelligence digital consultancy that helps our clients turn their social media data into effective business decisions and strategy.Today I'm joined by David Burgess, a Senior Account Executive from NUVI. Hi David, how are you?

David Burgess: I'm doing great Mireille, thanks for having me again. How are you doing?

Mireille Ryan:  Really good, really good. Just back from Canberra from a conference freezing my butt off in the cold weather.

David Burgess: Yeah, I was following along a little bit, it seemed a lot of good speakers and a lot of people that have also skyped in as well. That was great to follow along the hashtag and everything. But, did it go well?

Mireille Ryan:  It did. I was there speaking about "How Government Can Harness the Power of Social Media Intelligence". The great thing was, because obviously it's a room full of people in government who are interested in social media, we were all actively on social media, we're retweeting and tweeting, all the different bits of content. We were actually trending number one in Australia with the conference. 

David Burgess:  Look at that

Mireille Ryan: That was pretty exciting.

David Burgess: That's awesome to be trending number one in your own country. 

Mireille Ryan: Especially in government.

David Burgess: Yeah. I don't think it gets bigger than that in social media being the number one trend in your own country, that's awesome. Yeah, congrats on that speaking engagement and then being invited there. That's awesome.

Mireille Ryan: Awesome, thank you. Well, today I'm excited to be able to talk to you about how we can set up a social listening strategy because I know when I was at the conference, one of the things that people came to understand is, well we know we need to have social listening. We know we need social media intelligence, we need to be able to extract that data. But, how do we set it up? How do we get started? So, today I'd love to be able to pick your brains about how we can set up a social listening strategy.

David Burgess:  Yeah.

Mireille Ryan: Okay, great. So, let's just get started. So, what would be the first thing that I would need to do if I wanted to start thinking about putting together a social listening strategy?

David Burgess: Right, that's a great question. Social media listening is getting bigger by the day, as you know. But first thing I would say is, in a lot of things that you're building out, the first thing is okay, what is our goal?  As a company, as an organisation, what are our goals and metrics we want to establish? Things that are quantifiable, that we can measure, more importantly as we roll it up to key stake holders. We can say, "Hey, here are the quantifiable metrics and this is how successful it was and that we met our goal." The goals are going to be very, very different depending on if you work at a branch, if you work in government rights, if you work for a nonprofit, it's really going to depend on where you're at. So things like, okay, a goal could be I want to create more brand awareness? I want to improve customer service, maybe for example, United Here that we talked about previously. Maybe one of United's goals next year is that they want to improve customer service, right? Because they have a terrible reputation, or any brand? They want to measure sentiments. Whether its overall sentiments, but if they want to measure sentiments on a new product release or a new ad campaign of course, those are happening all the time. You want to quantify those. You want to see how it was received by your audience. Then, last but not least, interact with your audience. Interact with your customers. Whether that's just being friendly back and forth with them. Or you're engaging with them, you're listening if they're having problems, they have questions.So those are some of the things I would say, as far as examples go. Main thing is to really set an established, quantifiable metrics that you can measure at the end.

Mireille Ryan: I think from when I talked to a lot of social media teams, I think that is so important because sometimes they feel like they're running around doing all this work, but they don't know what they're actually trying to achieve in the end. I think, it's just a simple thing. Starting with the goals is really important. The other thing that I think a lot of people are trying to understand is there's so many conversations, I mean, there's billions of conversations that are happening online every day, in social in particularly. How do you listen to be able to identify those conversations that are relevant to you?

David Burgess: Yeah. Honestly, it's such a great question. It's really a question I get a lot when I'm talking to potential customers, or ongoing clients. It's because, I can't remember the statistic, but I think every single year there's 200 million more social media users every single year that are adding to the network. So, you had tonnes of conversations. Now, every year there's more conversations coming, right? If you're trying to listen to a key word, maybe you are trying to listen a key word like donut, right? Well, if you put in the key word into a listening tool and you just say, "Okay we want to listen to donut, what people are talking about." You're going to have so many conversations around that one key word. So it's like SEO, right? I guess you could compare to SEO, when you're building a listening strategy it really starts with finding the keywords and the phrases that your audience talks about, discusses. That's obviously, you want to define your audience, first and foremost. But really, what are the keywords that you want to monitor?Of course with the hashtag, or twitter handle, or just the key word by itself. Or maybe a string of keywords like, "I like this chocolate donut." Or anything like that. Make sure you make it very, very specific. Then start pulling in the data, because if you don't make it specific, you're going to pull in all this noise and things that is not filtered out and that's going to skew your data. That's going to skew your sentiment and your audience and the trends and anything like that if you are not very, very specific in what keywords you really, really want to monitor and really what topics you want to monitor.

Mireille Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I know that starting with keyword research is really important. I mean, understanding, even thinking about what are the questions that your audience are asking you? So that you can ensure that you're listening for those kind of questions. But I know when I do monitoring, and I'm listening, when I started I thought even if I do a lot of good research, when that starts to flow and it starts to listen, I find that I have to constantly adjust it because I can't always think about every potential word that could be used and how it could be used. So as I start listening, I go, "Okay, well, it's starting to bring up great data, but hang on this mention doesn't really have anything to do with my topic", because I hadn't thought about the word being used in that way. I then go and isolate and take that word out of the listening because it's not the right topic. It just allows me to constantly refine it so I get, my data starts to become more and more focused and I get really good data.

David Burgess: Yeah and that's it. Honestly it is close to impossible to set up a monitor or a query based on keywords and get it right the first time. Because you don't know what all those millions of people are going to say on any given day. So, it's trial and error. You create those keywords, you start pulling in, then you start filtering and really refining your search. But, it's so true. I can't really remember who I heard this from but, they told me building out a social media listening strategy with keywords, you really want to sit down and, either it's on your computer, on a word document, on a piece of paper with a pen, start thinking about what your audience is going to be staying with that keyword, right? Get into their minds, what are they going to say if they use that keyword? All the variations you can think about it, then from there start building it out. It's so key though, at the end of the day, to refine, refine make sure, like you said, making sure you're getting the best data available.

Mireille Ryan: Well, when I was speaking at the conference yesterday and we were talking about using the social media listening to be able to help find disease outbreaks. One of the case studies was when using it, using the word "fever", to be able to pick up potential disease outbreaks, but if not refined correctly it was also picking up the term, "Bieber Fever." So it kind of skews the results of what you're looking for. So, straight away you find you're getting all these posts coming in about Bieber fever, well you say, "Okay, well I need to make sure that I take that out and that we don't use that term." That allows you to get better results. But it just shows the importance of understanding the right phrases and keywords.

David Burgess: That's so true and that's such a great example, absolutely. That's funny, Bieber fever.

Mireille Ryan: I know, I'm sure they wouldn't have thought about that when they were putting in the term fever. But anyway.

David Burgess: Yeah.

Mireille Ryan: Okay, so how important is it to define, we started talking about it, but how important is it to define your audience?

David Burgess: Yeah. That's a great question, again, that goes before those keywords, right? So, it's difficult. I guess it's not too difficult to find the generic keywords before finding your audience, but if you have the wrong keywords or key phrases, you're not going to capture that specific audience, right?  It's incredibly important. If you want to use social listening for customer service, then you're going to target your audiences that pose a problem, right? For example, I'll make it, even though I'm in the United States, I'll make it relative to your country, your homeland. So Telstra, right? Say, you're Telstra and you put in the keyword Telstra and your customer service. I can imagine that's going to bring in a lot of conversations.

Mireille Ryan: Yes, the major phone carrier. And there's a lot of conversations happening about Telstra, I can guarantee that.

David Burgess: Right. So I can imagine what their team is building, for their customer service department and segment is anyone that's using Telstra, hashtag Telstra, @Telstra, but making it where it's "Telstra" and "horrible." "Telstra" and "awful." "Telstra" and "question." You're just building a list of your brand name and then any problematic key word you can think of. That way that customer service, all that negative sentiment that would be hard to filter if they're just monitoring Telstra, they can then quickly act upon those negative keywords in real time. Because they've built it out and fine tuned where they say, "We want to find customers, consumers that are mentioning our brand and these negative keywords."

Mireille Ryan: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah absolutely. So I guess conducting and understanding the audience is critical. I mean, for any social media strategy or marketing, you need to understand your audience, so really, that's just a given. But if you can refine it, it's going to allow for you to get better data. I mean, at the end of the day, that's the answer. It's going to give you better data.

David Burgess: Yeah.

Mireille Ryan: Yeah.

David Burgess: Exactly. One thing that we've been talking about recently is that a lot of the survey companies, a lot of survey data, a lot of solicited data is a lot of companies go off, which in part it's deceiving and it's faulty because it's people that are filling out something or they're clicking on something and they might not be telling the truth. Where social media is unsolicited. It's people that are being truthful. They're not going to hold back, right? So unsolicited data is just so important, that's with social media and then pulling that in with the listening tools, it's just so crucial.

Mireille Ryan: Yeah, exactly, I mean, think about it. Social listening is really, it's the best type of focus group you can ever have because in traditional focus groups where you're bringing people into a room, they want to, in some ways, there's that mentality that they want to give you the information they think you're looking for.

David Burgess: Yeah.

Mireille Ryan: You know, with social listening, they don't know necessarily, that you're listening. They probably don't even comprehend it. So they're honest. You're going to get honest feedback. So it is the best and probably a lot more cost effective way of being able to run focus groups and using that. So yeah, that's really awesome. So what would be the next step, then, in putting this social listening strategy together?

David Burgess: Right, so you've built ... You know your audience, you've built out the keywords, and you're collecting all this data? So, okay, how do we act upon it depending on where we are? Whether it's a campaign, or you're listening as a customer service, it's important to respond, engage. If you're in, for example, if you're in a big brand and say, for example, a company like PlayStation, Sony PlayStation. PlayStation has a twitter handle @PlayStation where they're not engaging with anyone, but they have a twitter handle specifically for customer AskPlayStation. They can listen and respond to any of those keywords. That doesn't mean the chat bot, the bot response? The copy paste response. That means ... Because people on social media and people in general, they know when they're getting just a automated response?  That build out and in tech, going out forward, the automated chat bots, it's known now. So, not having a can response, being very, very specific to a customer goes such a long way. So, you want to stay true to your voice, making each customer feels your response. Again, that goes hand in hand of your business and your brand. But, you want to listen and you want to respond. Very, very crucial, is you want someone to do those separate, right? Not necessarily someone internally in your company that's best at listening and controlling that, is not going to be the best at responding and engaging? So keeping those two separate are so crucial because listening takes a good amount of effort with all that data, and so does responding. So keeping those two separate in your department and in your company, is absolutely crucial.

Mireille Ryan:  But then they obviously need to work together strategically to make sure that they do work in the best possible way.

David Burgess: Yeah, absolutely. A collective team effort. That goes along with your social strategy and social media listening tools. Of course, there's time and effort involved, but you can streamline all that through alerts and notifying you when there's something that happens. Example, for customer service and pushing alerts to your colleagues and being on the same team and flagging things to them as well. So, no, it's so important to have that, even though we do two different things, we're on the same page. We have the same brand message and the brand voice.

Mireille Ryan:  Yeah, very, very important. So, are there any other steps that you would recommend that somebody putting a social listening strategy together should include?

David Burgess: Yeah, in summary, honestly, social listening is only going to grow year by year. Especially when there becomes more users. So, each and every year some ... Main thing I kind of always tell people is that if social media listening isn't part of your strategy right now, it's inevitably going to be. It could be you put in place after something negative happens. Something bad happens. So getting in front of a problem, or getting in front of measuring your campaign, or reaching out to influencers before your competitors do can literally change your business direction or your company direction if you do it too late.

Mireille Ryan:  Absolutely. Yeah. So the key, I guess, the take away is that you need to get on the social listening bandwagon before your competitors do and you get left behind.

David Burgess: Exactly. If you're not listening, someone else is. I can guarantee you that. If someone doesn't think it's important, well their competitor is definitely sitting at their computer, on their phone doing it because they've seen the importance through the data and so forth. But, no, that's exactly right is someone else is doing it.

Mireille Ryan: Well, David, thank you again for sharing such great insight into how we can create a social listening strategy and look forward to you joining us again in the near future.

David Burgess: Thanks so much Mireille.

Outro:  Thank you for listening to the Social Media Intelligence podcast. To download your action guide from this week's episode please go to You'll also be able to listen to past episodes and find out more information about how you can harness the power of social media intelligence. We look forward to you joining us this same time next week for the Social Media Intelligence podcast

Tags: Social Media Intelligence, Social Media Listening, Social Media Strategy, Social Media Data, Social Media Analytics,

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