The Science Of Social Listening: Mixing Market Research With Competitive Analysis
🛠️ Better Together: Synergizing Your Marketing Tools
Here’s a fun science fact: Sodium is a seemingly inert compound and common element that, by itself, isn’t very good for much aside from dissolving the ice outside your house and helping your bread rise. But when you mix it into water, it starts a chain reaction that causes the formation of hydrogen and sodium hydroxide, a powerful mix that can literally make explosions. Marketing is a kind of science too, a study and experiment with customer psychology and digital trends. So it’s no wonder that various combinations in the field of consumer insights can lead to results that are greater than the sum of their parts - and this is very true when it comes to Market Research and Competitive Analysis.
⚗️ Working With The Periodic Elements of [Ma]rketing [Re]search & [Co]mpetitive [An]alysis
So what are the chemical players in this serum for marketing success? Market Research speaks to the process of gleaning data-driven insights from multiple sources in order to create a full picture of the general marketing position for a brand. Information pertaining to a slew of vital points that allow marketing and insights professionals to create appropriate digital strategies regarding content, better understand their target demographics through audience segmentation, and identify potentially brand-broadening influencers for lucrative partnerships.
Competitive Analysis, on the other hand, speaks to gleaning data-driven insights from social media, in addition to various sources, in order to better understand a brand’s competitors and what their consumer base looks like. Competitive analysis is key for marketers when developing campaigns due to the importance of brand and audience profiles. Take for instance, Coke and Pepsi, two similar products from two different beverage and food conglomerates. If Coke (otherwise known as Coca-Cola) wanted to differentiate themselves from Pepsi’s brand image, and thus ensure growth in their own customer base, and losses for Pepsi’s customer base due to consumer migration, then they’d need to know everything about their rival, all the way down to the general sentiments that denizens of the web have when faced with Pepsi’s marketing content.
When a brand is able to combine these two methods, they can create the best content and consumer engagement strategies - that involve research-backed profiles - for optimal success. Just a few good ways of doing this can include…
🔬 Competitive Cause & Effect
Assuming you’re not a sugary soda seller, but you still exist in an industry ecosystem where various companies offer very similar products or services with little to separate them in the way of marketing points, you can still improve your brand messaging through Campaign Performance Optimization. This process involves both competitive analysis and market research in order to uncover:
- Market saturation: How many similar options are available to people in your market?
- Pricing: What’s your company’s pricing model look like in comparison to your competition?
- Market interest: What’s the overall consumer interest in your market pool across companies?
- Demand: Is there a fluctuating or stable demand for your brand’s products or services?
- And more…
By evaluating these elements, on top of the effectiveness of your adversary’s content strategies, you can put your business in a better position to take advantage of what worked and didn’t work for their campaign’s performance. They didn’t connect with consumers after aligning their brand with a movement or cause? Don’t align yourselves with such an unpopular or divisive movement or cause. Did your use of the colors red and green on your product’s boxes keep customers satisfied, but your competitor’s use of blue and orange turned off consumers? Now you know that for the future. Cause and effect.
Pro Tip: When trying to effectively utilize the Market Research side of this marketing pairing strategy, always make sure your sources are grounded and relevant to your research. Social media is always your best bet, but if you’re trying to diversify and take advantage of third party sources, you can’t go wrong with surveys, questionnaires, focus groups and in-company employee interviews. You can only understand so much about your rivals, but for your own market positioning, you can glean much more by listening in the right places.
Digimind offers a world-class, AI-supported social intelligence tool that’s instrumental in performing these kinds of social listening efforts. It even helped create our latest report on how social media hinted at Joe Biden’s victory during the presidential election. Check it out here and learn more!
🚀 Brand Reputation Isn’t Rocket Science
Remember that you’re dealing with actual people, not numbers, when it comes to social listening. Every post made by users on such platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, reflects something unique about the general sentiments and emotional underpinnings of both yours and your competitor’s brand reputations. Taking into account both market research and competitive analysis, you can develop a useful report that can reveal everything from:
- The weaknesses and strengths of your brand’s messaging
- The best business quarter or shopping season to promote certain differences in comparison to your competition
- Potential red flags that could cause a brand crisis, if not properly addressed
- What your brand’s overall market share is currently, and where it could be if specific content strategies were implemented
- And what your industry rivals are doing online with their brand reputation in real time.
Even though marketing is a science, it doesn’t mean you need to be as academic as a real life scientist to know that basic concerns and impressions of your brand can only be gleaned so well when you’re using your gut and nothing else. Social listening is about as close as you’re going to get to taking a microscope to the petri dish of your market, and diagnosing the who, what, where, when, and why of your brand’s image, in comparison to your rivals.
Pro Tip: Let it not be misconstrued that your brand’s reputation is something completely separate from your competition’s reputation. Always factor in the general health of your adversary’s brands when tallying the ultimate health of your own. Competitive analysis is the best element of the two from this social listening partnership when it comes to arriving at an accurate conclusion on your brand’s standing in the market place. So remember to include things in this assessment like, threats from newer companies on the market, the effect of suppliers and customers on pricing, and the broad level of competition taking place at the peak of your business’s growth.
🔥 Don’t Burn Your Brand’s Bunsen With a Crises
This was mentioned before, but by combining the powers of market research, for better awareness of your brand’s marketing mistakes, and of competitive analysis, for what tracking and analyzing trends the industry is dealing with, you can not only mitigate the effects of a PR nightmare, but also prevent any mishaps from starting in the first place. Social listening encompasses the lab where marketers work tirelessly to test their theories, work on their content experiments, and discover new ways of engaging consumers for your specific business. And part of this work can take advantage of market research and competitive analysis teaming up to cover all your bases.
There’s a lot that many marketing pros don’t want to admit when it comes to failings with both their target audience and the brand’s marketing position. Sometimes it can be a misunderstanding of the data, which if not caught early enough can lead to serious loss of trust by a once-loyal consumer base, or sometimes it can be an underestimation of a new tool or innovation in the market, which can lead to financial ruin, as what happened with Blockbuster passing on purchasing Netflix back in 2000. Case in point, crises are easier to overcome if you’ve done the necessary work to protect your business from surprises that would’ve been otherwise impossible to detect without a serious market research effort bolstered by an equally strong competitive analysis.
Pro Tip: You can’t completely erase the risks of a marketing campaign, especially when it involves content that’s developed by a third party, like an advertising agency, or a popular influencer that your brand has teamed up with. What you can do however is the necessary homework, and coordinate as strongly as possible with these outside sources to better curate the intended content so there’s as minimal issues as possible. Self-evident fact? Sure, but us marketing scientists can’t afford the luxury of messing up and wasting precious resources when a big disaster comes knocking at your brand’s laboratory door.
🤓 Einstein Had E = MC2. You’ve Got Social Listening.
In the scientific community, something that’s proven to be 100% confirmed as true for all variables, and full proof when implemented on all other theorems, is called “The Proven Method”. Marketing and insights professionals have their proven method with social listening, but that comes with certain caveats. Like anything in life, one has to do things correctly in order for the results to come out just right. The various ways of using social listening need to be utilized to the best of their ability in order for your brand’s marketing efforts to be fruitful, and so this too involves being scientific about the necessary processes, which in your case means synchronizing your market research and competitive analysis work.
Written by Micah Levin
With a background in creative writing, advertising, and psychology, Micah is a copywriter in name and a Digiminder at heart. When he's not developing content for agencies, you can find him crafting novels, cooking and running around in Brooklyn, NY.