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5 reasons why social listening is your friend right now

As we continue to move through an industry-wide period of unprecedented change in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, paying attention to the wider online conversation surrounding your business and its sector has become more important than ever. Many brands have already taken insight and data-fuelled measures during this time, highlighting the power of responsive and reactive brand activity.

KitchenAid’s recent #MakeItTogether campaign is a great example of this approach. Throughout the lockdown period, the brand has monitored emerging at-home cooking trends and leveraged these to provide buzz-worthy recipe guides via social media. For example, when “easy margarita recipe” showed a 250% increase in Google searches at the start of April, KitchenAid whipped up their own recipe which effectively showcased their blender and ensured optimum engagement with their online audience – a winning use of insight.

Leveraging this insight as part of regular social listening has never been more important and has a number of benefits for your business.

1. Identify issues before they evolve into a crisis

Implementing real-time analysis of digital conversations within your sector and commentary that directly references your business will keep you well prepared for moments of change. An event as simple as a viral tweet can lead to potentially brand damaging implications, so using a social listening tool to gather this insight will keep you ahead of the curve. Most tools offer alerts, so you will know exactly when the conversation starts to spike, and when to take action.

2. React and adapt to fluctuations in sentiment

With the news agenda twisting and turning on a daily basis, sentiment across your industry is likely to follow a similar trajectory of highs and lows. Harnessing sentiment tracking as part of social listening will provide you with a rolling assessment of your audience’s mood and brand/industry perceptions – this will help you create tailored messaging to reflect these trends.

KFC is a great example of a brand which has spun bad PR and negative sentiment into an award-winning crisis communications campaign. During severe disruption to their supply chain, KFC retained an open and honest dialogue with consumers through their social channels by proactively responding to comments and reviewing the wider digital conversations taking place. The resulting positive responses received provided them with insight to justify the launch of their creative ‘FCK bucket’ campaign. Met with near universal praise from both consumers and industry experts, the campaign is a brilliant example of how real-time audience insight can drive an effective communications strategy.

3. Leverage the latest trends before they reach a commercial peak

Trends on social media can push to the top of feeds in a matter of hours, so tracking these emerging topics, themes and conversations can have huge benefits for your business. Timely responses to these social trends can help your brand to stay ahead of the pack and flex your creative muscle in spaces that could elevate brand awareness.

4. Use holistic platform analysis to inform your channel strategy

Paying close attention to any platform-specific conversations can inform necessary revisions to your channel-strategy, while helping you to pinpoint the biggest opportunities for your business on social media. Social listening tools often provide options to view channel conversations holistically which helps make this process quick and effective.

5. Discover top industry influencers with ambassador potential

Social listening helps you determine which profiles are creating the most buzz within your industry or relating to specific search terms. Identifying these profiles and grouping them in a list can be extremely helpful in outlining potential brand ambassadors and highlighting key figures you want your social comms to resonate with.

British Airways is a good example of a brand which used insight around innovators in their field and translated this into a successful influencer campaign as part of their 2013 UnGrounded Innovation Lab. The campaign brought together over 100 thought leaders and influencers in the tech field – at a time when many brands weren’t leveraging influencers in their campaigns – and challenged them to respond to key STEM-driven challenges as part of a bespoke flight. The campaign resulted in widespread multi-channel coverage and even saw the concepts discussed at a UN summit, showing how precise influencer research and analysis can drive an effective communications strategy.


In a climate of continuous change, social listening has heralded a new wave of real-time marketing. We know that digital spaces are awash with chatter, so taking the time to zoom in on these conversations can help your business to develop an informed and insightful communications strategy. Here are 3 key points to remember when introducing social listening into your daily work schedule:

Where – understand where your audience are

Share – identify what your audience are sharing

Care – consider what your audience care about

Tags: brand reputationsocial listeningSocial Media