June 01, 2016

Part 2: IAB Social Media Training Series #6 - Leveraging Social Listening

Using social listening to drive insights by Christel Quek, VP APAC Brandwatch

It was a fantastic turnout at the IAB Training Session last week. Thought leaders from Facebook, LinkedIn, VML Qais, We Are Social, Brand Watch, and Zeno spoke to the industry’s leading publishers, agencies, and brands about how to use social to influence and impact the customer journey.

Christel Quek, VP of Brandwatch shared the importance of social listening and how it can give brands a real-time look at what their customers really think of their brand.

What is social listening?

Social listening is monitoring digital media platforms in order to gather information and identify what is being said. It’s used to listen in on the opinions of consumers about a company, the brand, its product features, and competitors. Monitoring social mentions allows brands to explore previously-unknown interest areas.


What are they saying about you?

The discovery of these discussion topics should complement current forms of research such as focus groups and other offline research. Social listening gives valuable global insights and branches can compare mentions across different markets.

Social monitoring on Brandwatch classifies consumer sentiments into three categories:

  1. Positive
  2. Neutral
  3. Negative

Thus, providing companies with a real-time look into trending issues..


Separating the fluff from the real stuff

A strong social listening study should always be aligned with company's’ key business questions. For example, it should uncover informative consumer opinions instead of general mentions and buzz. The best insights require broader thinking: category/need level analysis is more informative than mere campaign analysis. 

Tool-driven metrics should be used directionally and should be combined with various metrics for a more holistic measurement of consumer sentiments. Always remember that not every negative mention is an adverse event!


Social listening should drive in-depth consumer insights. Constant monitoring is key to adding insight to consumer journeys. Brand analysis should work alongside content marketing and measurement of campaigns. How do we design a strong listening study?

  • Go beyond the buzz - Instead of just looking at buzz, i.e. mentions, look key business questions about consumer opinion.

  • Alight to key business goals - Ask audience for feedback directly

  • Take a holistic approach - Combine social with other forms of research to get the complete picture. 

  • Think broadly - Category/need level analysis is more informative than campaign analysis – e.g., what are customer concerns around baggage related conversations?

  • Use tool-driven metrics directionally - Don’t obsess over automated sentiment accuracy, but combine different metrics for holistic measurement

When do we not use social listening?


What are the limitations of social listening? 

Despite the ability to filter through sentiments, social monitoring is not the best method when specific screening criteria are needed or when there is a need to target narrow geographical locations. Social listening should complement, but not replace, existing research methods.

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