Social & search listening are two faces of the same industry: consumer & market intelligence.
Consumer and market intelligence is the art of detecting patterns in human behavior to assist brands in launching the best products and offers based on genuine demand. It focuses on understanding consumer expectations, motivations, and fears, with the lowest bias possible.
The ultimate goal is to get insights into all steps in the purchase journey – to get a 360° understanding of markets & consumers.
Multiple methodologies have been developed in the last decades to help marketers answer these questions through different kinds of consumer surveys:
The rise of Web 2.0 offered a new opportunity for consumers to express their opinion through online forums & social networks. Giving birth to social listening at the same time.
Engaging brands to start listening to what customers were saying online, promoting or trashing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or news story comments – but also listening to how customers reacted to branded or sponsored posts.
Social listening essentially allows you to follow the advocates and detractors of your brand – aka consumers who already experienced your brand or your competitors.
Your brand has no choice but stays aware of spontaneous reviews left after purchasing on online platforms like Google, Amazon, or Trustpilot.
It is a direct way to discover & understand why people did or did not enjoy your product and its features.
While most social listening leaders like BrandWatch or Synthesio pretend monitoring reviews from different sources, a few great startups have emerged as specialists in online review analytics:
Social listening is also great for comparing the effectiveness of different social media marketing campaigns by monitoring the number of likes, comments, shares… The principle consists of gathering data tracking on social media and is ideal for monitoring ROI or A/B testing campaigns.
With these results, you can understand what content tends to buzz online and which codes you can use on your audience. So, search listening is not only about collecting data. It allows you to examine what has already happened using indicators to adapt your speech and try to reach as many people as possible on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter…
If people are living their best lives on Instagram, they’re experiencing their real lives with Google.
Social listening emerged with the solid ambition of capturing everything that is said online by Internet users through their posts, comments, reactions, and interactions. The truth is that very few consumers express themselves publicly online (less than 1% of social media users).
When they do speak up, it is usually to critique a brand, make a complaint (detractors), or recommend a product or service (advocates). Unfortunately, it leaves the silent mass unmonitored and outside of the analysis.
With social listening, brands cannot learn anything about their market dynamics, i.e. trending products, brands, or services people want to consider buying. Brands must find other ways (and data) to survey the masses to find answers to these questions:
Surely social listening is not the most effective way to monitor consumer needs.
Social media platforms are public spaces where anyone can view everything. Being overly cautious about posting or placing more emphasis than necessary on brand criticism has a significant bias effect.
As a brand, you only get access to what people want to tell you, not what they genuinely believe or feel.
Nobody is worried about being listened to when using search bars on Google or Amazon. Online searches truly represent people’s minds, interests & hidden desires. Search engines provide unparalleled access to the largest existing consumer panel. You don’t only have access to social media users, you have access to anyone using search engines, which is almost everyone.
Today 83% of consumers use Google or Amazon before buying something. Search engines are now totally part of the customer journey. Ignoring online searchers would be shooting your foot!
Search engines are the real mirrors of the world. Studying Internet users’ queries is like diving directly into the psychology of users without bias, deduction, or restraint.
Search listening has emerged with the rise of e-commerce & increasing usage of search engines.
Helping brands collect, process, and analyze thousands of search queries to uncover market dynamics like …
Search listening and social listening are essentially different. These two technologies provide diverse insights at distinct steps of the customer journey.
Long story short, the best solution is not to focus on social or search listening. It all depends on your use case & the challenges you want to solve.
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See also: Healthcare