Forget About Followers and Engagement

3 social listening KPIs that actually matter to consumer brands

What comes to mind when you think of social media data? If the answer is arbitrary vanity metrics like followers, likes, and shares, you’re thinking about social data in the wrong way.

Sure, those metrics serve a purpose, but not one that CEOs and CMOs should spend time thinking about them as KPIs.

So what should global brands focus on instead in terms of social data? The big picture — consumer behavior. Every brand wants to become more customer-centric and better understand the opinions and preferences of consumers. Not what they click, but what makes them tick.

Many brands haven’t realized that social media data actually holds the insights that CMOs need to make the right strategic decisions. Social media data isn’t about reporting on social media, but uncovering meaning from social conversation.

Social media data should be a powerful force for uncovering consumer insights, which brands can use to better understand everything from their target audience composition to emerging trends in their market.

This idea that social media and other online data from reviews, forums and more should play a role in consumer research is relatively new. Why? Previously it too challenging to make sense of the vast amount of data. But that is all changing with the rise of AI technology. Now brands can uncover granular insights about how their customers are using products and how they feel about competitors in an instant by applying AI to online data.

So what are some of the strategic KPIs that can be measured via online consumer conversation?

Is your audience changing in the right ways?

% change in target demographics and interests of the audience for your brand and products

Social media data can give you detailed insights on the demographics and interests of any audience. Your brand’s audience includes anyone talking about your brand or products, not just your social followers. An important KPI for any brand is strategically expanding its audience. Whether it’s a financial brand that needs to attract more millennials or consumer tech company that’s looking to reach a wider audience in the midwest, social media data can reveal your audience’s age, gender, and location breakdowns, and how it’s changing over time. This social media data can serve as KPI that reveals the success of your marketing efforts in a much more tangible way than something like follower growth. Adding social followers is not going to meaningfully move the needle for any CMO, but adding a new target market certainly will.

When Fender, the world’s foremost manufacturer of guitars, turned to social media analysis to uncover consumer insights about its audience they found a big opportunity to market to female guitar players. The insights helped them craft a targeted campaign, which delivered a 128-percent growth in their female audience.

How are your campaigns impacting brand perception?

% change in share of voice and brand perception as a result of campaign

Instead of just looking at the social data to measure the social engagement with your campaign, understand how the larger campaign impacts share of voice and brand perception. A truly successful campaign will get people talking. Additionally, it will get them to talk more positively about your brand and products.

IHOP’s #IHOb campaign certainly made an impact in how much consumers were talking about the brand, and a deeper look at the campaign shows that despite some negative commentary, it accomplished exactly what the brand was looking to do: raising awareness about the burgers on their menu. Taking it a step further, you can also use social data to measure how a campaign impacts purchase intent for your products.

How do your brand mentions compare to your competitors?

% increase in visual and text brand mentions among competition

Every brand should be tracking how much consumers are talking them. But for context, brands need to compare themselves to all of their competitors as well. Tracking online consumer conversations can give brands the big picture view they need to see how often they are being mentioned across channels and audiences. Additionally, just looking at text mentions of your brand doesn’t give you the complete picture. Tracking both visual mentions and text mentions gives you a more complete view and helps you identify the influencers who are making an impact on your share of voice.

Social data can provide a lot more than just KPIs

For more on how to use social media data and more to understand consumers, download our new guide: The Brand’s Guide to Modern Consumer Insights


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