Social Media Listening Helps Marketers Turn Brand Crises into Opportunities

Today, brands are constantly creating media for consumers who are increasingly bombarded with print media, digital advertising, and branding. Brands compete fiercely for consumers’ attention, branching into the newest technologies and designing content that will distinguish them from competitors.
The success of brand campaigns can be determined through sales as well as social media conversation. In addition to volume and sentiment, brands can also find out who is talking about the campaign and what they are actually saying.
However, a marketing campaign will occasionally hit a nerve and spark an outcry among consumers. While controversial content may increase engagement with your brand, mistakes can be costly, hurting both short term sales and long term brand allegiance. Social media listening allows you to monitor consumer conversation, minimizing damages and preventing brand crises.
Playing Basketball
Take the controversial catalog that was recently published by Dick’s Sporting Goods, a retailer that sells a wide range of sporting equipment and apparel for athletes of all kinds. The catalog in question was advertising basketball-related products, and the design team had made a big mistake–there were no female basketball players pictured.
This oversight was caught by a young basketball enthusiast who wrote a letter to Dick’s. Her inquiry inspired a social media frenzy as social media users commended her for her courage and chastised Dick’s for making such a foolish mistake.

The public outcry even moved the CEO of Dick’s to write an apology letter in which he assured customers that there would be more female representation in future advertisements. TWEET:

The letters exchanged between the unlikely pair were the topic of news stories across the country, smitten with the 12 year old’s spirited story. With social media analysis, retailers can learn a lot from the overarching conversation, taking note of what today’s consumers are demanding from brands.
Volume metrics highlight the increase in conversation spurred by the controversy as brand engagement spikes on October 10th, composed primarily of Mentions of Dick’s Twitter Handle, @DICKS. Over the past two weeks, Dick’s most popular Tweet included the CEO’s apology which made over 600,000 potential impressions.
Dicks Engagement and Volume
The conversation surrounding the story is made up of roughly 13,000 Tweets written over the course of a week. Social media users have been tweeting about a variety of related subjects including the young author and basketball player, McKenna, her letter, and the sexist nature of Dick’s catalog.
Dicks Topic Wheel
Not surprisingly, the majority of the people in the conversation were female with women making up 62% of the conversation and men making up 38%. The gender composition of the recent conversation is distinct from the norm. During the three months prior to the spike in conversation, men made up 71% of the conversation and women only made up 29%.
Gender Dicks Sports
When we compare these two conversations we also see an interesting change in audience interests. Oddly enough, Canadians seem to be very interested in the recent controversy. Dick’s current audience is >1,000 times more interested in Alberta, 311 times more interested in the Canadian Football League, and 9 times more interested in Toronto than the general Dick’s audience.
People talking about the story are also more interested in related topics. They are 22 times more interested in Phoenix, 17 times more interested in social justice, and 3 times more interested in news and media.
dicks affinities
The interests that are the most important to Dick’s are the increased interests in areas related to sports and wellness. The current audience is 3 times more interested in nutrition, 2 times more interested in health, and 2 times more interested in the NHL than the general Dick’s audience.
Diving into these interests with segments, we see that people who care about a topic like nutrition are often interested in fitness and weightloss and women make up the majority of the nutrition segment. With these interests comes sports apparel and equipment, highlighting potential customers who may have been offput by the catalog conundrum.
Dicks segments 1
While this incident may be one of the more blatant examples of gender disparities in athletics, it has also exposed a much broader social trend. Market growth opportunities abound in the women’s athletics sector, because women are frequently an underserved demographic with regards to athletic products. However, brands that want to take advantage of this expanding market must shape inventories and marketing campaigns to address the needs of female athletes. Social media can help brands make sure that they are meeting the demands of men and women with inclusive content and branding.
To learn more on how social analysis can offer insights into brand crisis management, we invite you to visit our blog today.

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