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Social Media Monitoring Hacks for Low Search Volume

By Tiffany Tran  •  October 7, 2015


Social Media Monitoring Hacks for Low Search Volume

Posted by: Tiffany Tran on October 7, 2015

Researchers, analysts and insight teams who have adopted social media monitoring into their line of business often run into a very common problem — low content volume.

Low content volume is essentially a return of low results for the topic, subject, or brand you’re researching. This makes the task of finding interesting and meaningful insights more difficult for analysts.

But fret not fellow researchers! Here are 3 ways to overcome this problem:

Leverage your close competitor(s).

Leverage your close competitors

“Huh? But my client wants to know what people are saying about their brand, not their competitors.”

Yes, it’s still a good idea to report your client’s brand presence online but if you are tasked with finding “ah-ha” moments in the data, don’t expect much by way of actionable insights if your content volume is low.

If there are simply not enough conversations online about a particular brand, leveraging the collective footprint of competing brands can help bring insights on the industry as a whole. What are the common problems being addressed online? Is there an opportunity to capitalize on where the industry is much weaker overall?

The big thing about this tactic is to not be afraid of using your competitors as a research advantage. It’s likely that competing brands will have a lot in common. Use them to speak for the less vocal brands.

Break away from being too brand specific.

Break Away From Being Too Brand Specific

While it can be easier to retrieve more volume on big brands, products and smaller brands can be a bit more challenging. This is where an analyst must be creative in their questions and searches.

A good example would be the brand Sarafem. Sarafem is the brand name for fluoxetine, a prescription drug that is often used to treat major depressive disorder, bulimia nervosa, OCD, panic disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Unfortunately, people do not talk about Sarafem very often online.

Using Sarafem as the example — if insight teams were to use a social intelligence tool to understand common complaints or side-effects of the drug, they aren’t going to get very far by being too brand specific in this case. Asking questions that pander around your subject can be even more powerful and insightful in the end.

What other alternative medicines or home remedies are people using as an alternative to Sarafem? How do people feel about using medication versus home remedies? What are other common symptoms or cravings women mention of when going through PMDD?

An analyst for instance, could broaden their search by asking what are women talking about when they are mentioning stomach discomfort? What other alternative medicines or home remedies are people using as an alternative to Sarafem? How do people feel about using medication versus home remedies? What are other common symptoms or cravings women mention of when going through PMDD? Are there any safety concerns or backlash from other products women are mentioning?

Another way to think about this is to focus on your potential customers. While people may not be talking about a brand directly, think about how potential consumers would naturally be talking about a brand’s solution.

Questions are limitless depending on how creative and curious as you are. Don’t be afraid to branch away from the initial subject. Some of my personal favorite finds came from using this tactic.

Extend your time period.

Extend Your Time Period

Although this seems very intuitive, many analysts often overlook this simple tweak the moment they see low content over a short time span. Mentions may seem low over 3 months, but if you go as far back a year, 3 years, 5 years, you may be pleasantly surprised. *Depending on the topic of course.

One example we could use is Cheerios. If over a span of 3 months, there were only 12K posts about Cheerios, you could get a decent glimpse of how people currently feel about Cheerios overall. Unfortunately, an in-depth analysis on different aspects of the brand would be difficult to perform.

By going back farther, say 5 years, you would have access to 425K posts, a large enough number to get representative feedback on individual aspects of Cheerios such as health impact, taste, price, ads, etc.

As researchers, one thing we all have to remember going into social media monitoring territory is that we are at the mercy at what people are saying online. If people aren’t talking about a particular brand or subject to a large degree, switch your gears.

I think we can all agree that not having enough content for any given query irks the best of us, but we all must learn that when we are confronted with this obstacle, there is a need to look at data in a different light. With hundreds of millions of posts being created online every day, the right questions asked can uncover insights into almost any subject.

Related reading:

Link to the two biggest mistakes in social media analysis blog post


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