The Old Marketing Ship Is Sinking  

Rosses Point wreck   Photo courtesy of    

Interruption marketing, shouting and the old ‘share of voice  model’ is sinking fast while another ‘share of voice’ model emerges from the sea of social media conversations.   The old ‘share of voice’ measures how much of the total amount of advertising going on in your market is owned by you. Although it is still interesting to monitor this today, many digital marketers are scrambling to measure how much of the social media  conversations about your product are actually about your brand. And how many of them are positive, negative or neutral. “All markets are conversations” Seth Godin once said. Therefore marketers today need to be able to listen to those social media conversations (we also need to listen to offline opinions).We need new social listening skills.  We also need processes to take action resulting from these conversations.


They Are Talking About You YourCustomers

Customers, influencers, prospects and competitors are talking about your brands every day – at an increasing rate. Don’t think they are not talking about you.

They are. Social Listening is now a basic requirement for marketers i.e. it’s part of the marketing process. Whether you are a high profile big brand with thousands of conversations revolving around your brand across dozens of platforms or a smaller, maybe niche operator with just a few conversations, social listening is gold dust.  It’s like having a live focus group online every day, as well as an opportunity to influence the conversations, build awareness (and inbound links) and nurture relationships from which lifetime customers with an increasing, share of wallet, will grow.

“not important what you say about your brand, it’s more important to understand what others are saying. It’s equally important to know what they are saying about your competition.” (Johnson 2010).

Converting Social Chat Into Competitive Advantage

This ‘process’ must specify what you do with the information when you have it. After all, you are now converting social data (conversations) into sustainable competitive advantage – if you use it systematically – in a disciplined systematic process. This includes filtering out some of the inane useless noise and identifying the conversations that really can affect your brand. Some listening tools will do this automatically for you and others need tweaking (their configuration) or manual input.

Your Customers Talking Wall2

Listening Has Never Been Easier

Listening to the market has never been easier. It’s as if social media just delivered marketers year-long focus groups that can be found all over the social media landscape. So what are the best social listening tools (also called buzz monitoring tools)? Well, first remember common sense – you can, and should, take time to listen to customer conversations (legally & ethically) via sales people, sales feedback systems, customer service, CRM and, of course through social  media. You can also identify, isolate and monitor key influencers, who they follow, what they like/share/retweet.

Listeners Beware!

However a word of warning. Be very clear about exactly what you want to monitor or listen to. Because there are a lot of conversations and many of them are interesting. But you have other work to do too. SoIMG_0814 prioritise what exactly do you want to listen/monitor? Your brand/s? Your Company: Your CEO; Your Competitors; Some Market Trends? Also decide what will you do with this information? When does it warrant alerting the CEO, or the marketing manager or the customer service team? Decide what do you have to monitor daily, weekly and monthly? Do you respond in a consistent way. Are you equipped with pre-prepared useful content (and answers/comments) to tailor and share in the discussions? Can you always add value to the conversation?


7 Ways You Can Directly Listen To Your Market Place, in a regular and systematic way:

1. Listen To Customer Service

This is the coalface of marketing – when customers have a problem. This is where marketers get a chance to meet, greet and listen to customers. In some ways it’s the culmination of all marketing efforts (helping customers through their journey all the way to making a purchase and then dealing with their worries, woes and warranties).

2. Listen To Customer Feedback

Gathering post-sales feedback is essential to firstly, ensure the right customer experience is delivered and secondly, to reassure other prospective customers as they increasingly search for other customers’ opinions, reviews and feedback. Reevo, Feefo & Trust Pilot can help to increase the number of customers that give feedback. No guarantee that all feedback will be positive.

3. Listen To Customer Communities

GetSatisfactionUservoice, UserEcho and help to create customer communities that share feedback, ask questions, generate ideas i.e. a form of crowd sourcing which can offer different levels of engagement (see Ladder of Engagement free download chapter). My Starbucks platform is a good example of creating a community, chatting & listening and ultimately, moving customers up the Ladder Of Engagement (more on this later).

4. Listen To Local Chatter (Twitter)

Use twitter search’s ‘advanced search’ to find relevant tweets from a specific geographic area. In addition you can also search by topic, people, hashtags, words, exact phrase, ‘any of these words’, ‘none of these words’, near this place, positive, negative etc. include retweets.  Listening To Mentions & Messages on Twitter. Tweetdeck, Hootsuite offer a single dashboard which allows you to monitor tweets which mention you, direct messages to you, conversations around you, and also to post your own content across a variety of platforms including twitter, facebook, linkedin via this single platform. SocialBro, tweetreachtweriod and Twilert (sends you a daily summary or an email alert each time your search terms are mentioned on Twitter) are all useful.

5. Listen To Multiple Web Sites (Feed Readers)

Visiting and listening to all of your favourite sites takes time. RSS Readers collect all the new posts from all of your favourite sites/blogs and delivers (feeds) them into a single web page (reader) for your convenience. Although Google Reader has been withdrawn, there are plenty of other ‘feed/readers’ out there, e.g. makes it easy to transfer Google reader settings and add new feeds.

6. Listening To Influencers

Get alerts every morning regarding topics, brands and people you need to track written by journalists and major bloggers via Google Alerts (now called GigaAlert). Identify the scale of the discussion, Influencerswho is discussing it, how influential they are and where they are based via CrowdVu. Listen to your Linkedin connections whenever they are in the press via . Klout identifies how influential tweeters are by giving a Klout score. Highly influential Klout Scorers tend to get free gifts, free upgrades and more. Followerwonk identifies location, language, influence and gender of your twitter followers and also helps measure yourself against competitors audit & track followers; and find & cultivate key relationships. Don’t forget to use lists on twitter to isolate influential tweeters and to listen to them and speak with them. See also what the influencers are interested in (what they retweet, favourite, like, share) to identify content that they might want.

7. Listening to The Mood Of The Market – Sentiment Analysis

Some tools measure the sentiment (or mood or feeling about your brand) from all the conversations and summarise it in a sentiment score for each day, week, month.  Some listening tools are a little bit dumb and misinterpret negative for positive comments e.g. that was terribly kind of the sales team’ could be interpreted as a negative comment because ‘terribly’ was used. However they can be tweaked/trained to become more accurate over time.

Some tools also enable marketers to drill down, identify the comment and respond to it if deemed Listening 2appropriate. Obviously there’s no need paying for these functions if you don’t have people plus a disciplined process to follow through, respond and engage in these conversations. Also be clear what you want to do with the information generated – gather customer insights; boost engagement, boost customer service (identify problems and solve them) – do not gather data without a clear reason why. Some tools are broader than others and include blogs, tweets, reviews, forums and more.


Part 2/2 explores a variety of Sentiment Analysis tools and other social listening tools.