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What Do Your Customers Want? Use Social Listening To Find Out

By Derek Franks  •  March 19, 2018

Get into the minds of your audiences and fans to discover who they are and how you can help solve their problems and meet their needs

What Do Your Customers Want? Use Social Listening To Find Out

Posted by: Derek Franks on March 19, 2018

In one of our most popular blog posts, we set up the 25 questions social listening can help you answer. With the overwhelming response we got from that blog post, we thought we would expand on those 25 questions. In this post we are tackling our first question: 1. What do your customers want?

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The online data available to marketers, advertisers, researchers, analysts and strategists has totally changed the game in audience and persona research.

 

Now, we have information not just on buying behavior and generational trends, but we can actually figure out what people want. We can answer some of the most challenging questions about your customers:

 

What motivates people to act the way they do? Why did they buy from your competitors instead of you? Why are they seeking out to purchase what they did? What emotions do they feel? Who do they love and who do they not love? Who do they trust?

 

All of these questions and more can be answered with the right tools and resources. Let’s take a look at why social listening is so effective and how you can use this data to better understand your customers.


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Unsolicited information from multiple social channels are a wealth of knowledge for your brand(s)

To read the minds of your customers, you need to go straight to the source: the people. There are many ways to gather intel on your customers, potential customers, competitors and other important audiences and entities.

 

Using first-party data when researching your customers is vital, this is data derived from entities that are essentially volunteered information provided by users. Facebook biographical information, for instance, is made up of details that users filled out themselves. When people type in a Google search, that information is first-party. And if people tweet to show love for their favorite brand, that is first-party data as well.

 

The best social listening tools take information from many different sources giving you an unbiased view of what is being spoken about online. In addition to social media sites, these platforms can analyze blogs, forums, review sites, comments and other channels where people create their own content online.

 

The key here is that this information is unsolicited and from a wide variety of online resources. You can figure out what your customers want because they will tell you-- if you’re there to listen. The greatness of the world wide web provides us with billions upon billions of data points from people just like your customers, allowing you to track and analyze this data to figure out exactly what your customers want and need.

 

Artificial intelligence helps you understand the sentiment and context online

Intuitive social platforms are becoming more intuitive — using artificial intelligence, they actually learn how people act and interact. This enables them to do crazy things like detect sarcasm in online text or make predictions about people’s behavior.

social listening linguistics detects sarcasm

This intelligence becomes smarter through a process known as machine learning.

 

Machine learning is the same technology that enables Netflix to predict what shows its users are interested in and it also enables Facebook to determine which content in the News Feed is most relevant or enjoyable to its users. And it's what powers social listening tools too.

 

The powerful learning capabilities are utilized most frequently in understanding the user behavior so that they can provide people with the desired experience. This technology is literally designed to deliver what people want.  We fully covered the basics on machine learning in this article, which discusses the inner workings of this technology and why no one can afford to ignore it.

 

Trends and historical data can help you understand everything from brand to campaign perceptions

You’re never going to learn what your customers are really thinking based on whether or not they liked a tweet – you’ve got to dig further. Listening tools offer higher quality metrics that give you more insight into who your customers are and how they perceive your brand.

 

Our customers have found great success utilizing demographics, analyzing sentiment about their brand, product or campaign and getting an accurate read into the pain points, needs and wants of their desired customers.

 

Say you’re the yogurt company Chobani; you recently rebranded and introduced a new logo and packaging (which they did), and you’d like to see how people feel about the change, you can see the sentiment of what is being said online.

 

One of the things Chobani did see after the launch was that people loved the change. But there was one common complaint: the coating on the packaging was emitting a strange odor. Chobani said it “immediately made adjustments to the outside sleeve by reducing the amount of FDA-approved, food-grade coating and these are now on store shelves.”

sentiment analysis from social listening can help identify consumer sentiment

These are attributes that make listening effective in helping you gain more knowledge about your audience, how they feel about your brand and how they feel about your product. They can even help you uncover blips in the customer experience.

 

Now, if you want to know what your customers want, you first need to know who your customers are. Let’s take a look at how you can craft better customer personas so you can better analyze their wants and needs using this technology.

 

Personas developed from listening research help you understand how they identify themselves, not the demographic you pick to put them in

To get into the mind of your audience, you’ll need to make sure your targeting is correct.

 

The more you discover about these audiences, the better you will be at delivering what they want. The data you use about the billions of people online can help you refine your target to better represent your ideal customer in your persona profiles.

 

One way to accomplish this is to use these metrics about your audiences, which provide more detail than is typically used for buyer personas. The information you’re looking for is not just demographics and buyer behavior, but insights into how people feel.

 

We can use psychographic data like that found through listening to explore how people feel and what drives their online behavior and emotions around your brand. Using these analytics, you can find who your customers are and, yes, what they want.

 

For example, if you’re Airbnb, you can see the top emotions and interests about your brand in the last 3 months or last 3 years (or any other time frame you’re interested in):

Buyer personas and Audience Personas can be developed with social listening tools

It’s important to get this information to help make your personas more accurate. With that information you’ll be able to analyze how your target audiences feel about your key business decisions.

 

You see here that people who discuss Airbnb have some topical interests such as politics. It could be that the company’s heavy participation in recent political conversation via ad campaigns or its CEO’s outspokenness on social media could play well for the brand.

 

Since Airbnb now knows that politics are important to a range of their audience, they can incorporate people who are interested in brands who are involved in political activism into their buying personas.

Identify audience interests using social listening research

Knowing these key insights can help you deliver desired outcomes for your target audiences.

 

You can also use these metrics to inform changes to your persona profiles, which will help you implement your strategies and tactics more nimbly and with greater flexibility.

 

In our social listening insights report for the beer industry, we built a report for various beer brands. Here’s the one we created for beer maker Dos Equis from our analysis:

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And for our Travel Industry report, we explored the various booking sites people choose to book their travel. Here is the persona we created for a Booking.com customer:

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As you analyze your brand or business in an ongoing fashion, you can use this data to get a snapshot of who your customers are and ultimately, develop an adaptable, evergreen persona profile of your customers, which, in turn, will enable you to better understand what they want from you.

 

By utilizing the right data, you can come to a better understanding of the people you’re seeking to build and nurture strong relationships with and connect with them in ways you never thought possible and ultimately understand what your customers really want.

 

Luckily, there are intuitive tools (like Infegy Atlas) that utilize social intelligence and machine learning to harvest what people say and turn it into context and actionable insight for brands and businesses from any industry and marketing, advertising and research agencies as well.

Topics: social listening, social listening data, social listening tools, customers

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