9 Step Guide On Gaining Actionable Insights From Social Listening Data

One of the common pieces of feedback I get from brands and agencies is that it is hard to surface an actionable insight from social media listening data. Many companies are regularly tracking sentiment and mention volume of their brands successfully, but are struggling with why and what should they be doing next.

Listening data can be very powerful if you know how to follow a method of analysis. In this article I’ll explain how I do “exploratory analysis” to surface findings and recommendations, all using Salesforce Radian6. Some say good social media analysis is as much an art as it is a science, I believe anybody can do this given a solid methodology and a will to research.

As a case study I’m going to explore the topic of Organic Milk to understand how an Organic Milk brand could improve their marketing.

TOP 3 FINDINGS:

Insight #1: The conversations around “Organic Food” increase when there is a GMO scandal. Action: Amplify marketing campaigns during GMO crisis.

Insight #2: There are two major audiences for organic milk – Empty Nesters and Hipsters. Action: Give this insight to a creative agency, they will have a field day.

Insight #3: There is a long term heated debate about the pros and cons of organic food, and recently organic milk. Action: Become a thought leader in Organic Milk. Commission research. Write reports. Educate and evangelise.

A SIMPLE 9 STEP ANALYSIS METHODOLOGY:

  1. Make Assumptions about the Target Customer
  2. Define questions and hypothesis to test
  3. Select relevant topics to analyse
  4. What happened in the last 90 days?
  5. What are the demographics?
  6. How do people talk about the topic?
  7. Long term macro analysis across 3 years
  8. Zoom in and analyze micro spikes
  9. Insights and Recommendations

1. MAKE ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE TARGET CUSTOMER

You probably have a fairly good idea of who your target customer is on social media. So just articulate it, it will help you think of topics you may want to listen to.

In my analysis I was focusing on Organic Milk, which is a relatively new topic. Here are the assumptions I made.

AFFLUENT EMPTY NESTERS

This group are a bit older and their first kids have grown up and left the next, or are nearing that stage at least. They have a broader outlook on life and want to avoid eating unhealthy food.

-45-70 -Regularly does grocery shopping where she buys milk -Takes care of kids part time -Doesn’t like homogenized or processed milk -Wants kids to eat healthy -Chooses organic where it fits in with budget

SUSTAINABLY MINDED

Young and broad minded, they care about global news and want to live in a sustainable environment.

-20-55 -Non-affluent -Wish they could purchase organic/free range/fair trade more often, but price is a barrier to frequency

2. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO FIND OUT?

This is the hard part. You need to get creative with what you know so far about the topic and what you think you could find out.

Think of these questions as guiding questions that help you focus on solving a problem, not just aimless data gathering.

HERE WERE MY GUIDING QUESTIONS:

-Who talks about organic -What are the major topics that have been talked about regarding organic? -How much are the health benefits talked about, and by who? -How much is accessibility mentioned, and who mentions it? -What do people think about the price of organic products, and who are they?

3. SELECT RELEVANT TOPICS TO ANALYZE

I had very limited demographic data available so these results are not statistically credible, however they are indicative and just using the free Insights apps available.

BRAINSTORM TOPICS

Start by defining major topics to scan for based on assumptions you have around your target audience. In my case I looked at topics relating to organic, fair trade, free range and organic milk.

In the last 90 days there were 8,696 mentions on the internet and in social media of these topics. This was a good place to start.

4. LOOK AT THE LAST 90 DAYS TO SEE WHAT’S GOIN ON.

Look back at the last 3 months and check what the major topics were and the demographics for each topic.

The below trendline shows the SentimentTopic Trend for Organic Milk over the last 90 days. There is a low volume of mentions for this topic.

THERE WERE ONLY TWO KEY CONVERSATIONS WORTH MENTIONING:

17 March 2015 – Fonterra announces a boost in Organic Milk premiums to stimulate suppliers to produce more. 8 May 2015 – Fonterra launches new Anchor organic milk

Because the data set is so small with organic milk, it is hard to gain quantitative insights. Further analysis would need to be done over a longer time period. Regardless, the data from social media is rich so you can still gather deep insights from qualitative analysis. It just requires digging deeper.

5. WHAT ARE THE DEMOGRAPHICS?

According to the insights, more male (60.5%) than female (39.5%) talk about organic milk. 100% of mentions were within the 25-34 age group.

INSIGHT: Men between 25-34 are the most likely to talk about organic milk. As I looked through profile by profile, there seemed to be two major groups. Those that care about farming and those that enjoy flat whites on Ponsonby Road, are now able to enjoy Organic Milk as a mainstream product.

INSIGHT: Farmers are highly engaged online and care a great deal about organic milk.

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC FOOD AND ORGANIC MILK AUDIENCES?

The majority (59.1%) of people talking about Organic Foods are female, and between 25-34 years old, which is different to Organic Milk where men are the major demographic. This could be because of the number of farming industry mentions.

The second most active age group is 45-54 and predominantly male, although the dataset was very small, it was 100% male.

Here are the the age demographics of users talking about Organic Food over the last 90 days.

INSIGHT: Organic Food has a majority female audience while Organic Milk has a majority male audience. INSIGHT: Audience of empty nesters talking about Organic Milk is predominantly more male than female.

6. HOW DO PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE TOPIC?

There were four major types of comment around Organic Milk that were quite interesting:

-Sharing and commentary on news stories -Debate over the pros and cons of organic milk -Describing life experiences -With sarcasm or humor

A) PEOPLE TALK ABOUT THE NEWS, A LOT!

There are consistently news stories featuring Fonterra’s premium and the release of Anchor organic milk recently.

Insight: Conversations often triggers after a news story. That is a good opportunity to interact with potential customers.

PEOPLE DEBATING THE VALUE / BENEFITS OR ORGANIC MILK

There is a consistently held argument between the pros and cons of organic milk.

INSIGHT: There is an ongoing conversation on the benefits/cons of organic milk

C) PEOPLE SHARE LIFE MOMENTS INVOLVING ORGANIC MILK

Of course if you had organic milk with your morning flat white, wouldn’t you mention it on Instagram? Is this a sign of prestige to have organic milk?

INSIGHT: There is an element of prestige or a show of affluence to say you are drinking organic milk.

###PEOPLE OFTEN JOKE ABOUT ORGANIC MILK###

Many people find it fun to make jokes out of organic milk, common jokes are about it being too flashy, expensive and hipster to buy.

INSIGHT: There is a humor angle here – especially around the hipster vs. mainstream (empty nesters). Could play on this in a creative campaign.

To really see what is happening with a topic it is important to step back and look at the bigger picture. Is the topic growing as a conversation, or it is be declining and new topics are gaining importance?

As part of your Radian6 license you are able to view historical sentiment data since 2008.

In my study I decided to look back 36 months and see what has happened in the world of organic food in New Zealand social media. I chose organic food because it is closely related to organic milk but there is more volume to identify trends.

I found there was an annual pattern in that volumes of organic would spike June to November every year.

For this analysis I zoomed into the top three quarters, and then into the top conversation of each of those quarters to identify.

HOW DO YOU LOOK BACK IN RADIAN6?

Radian6 Widgets only allow you to view 3 months of data in each widget. To get around this I create a widget for each quarter, and manually pull the key numbers in XLS.

There is long term growth in the topic of “Organic”. Mentions have increased by 8.78% over the last 12 months from the previous period.

The rate of growth in Organic Food mentions has slowed down from the previous period which grew 13.26% the year earlier, but still grew by 8.78%.

The rate of growth in Organic Milk mentions has grown 163% from the previous year.

There seems to be a cyclical peak in the second half of each year (Jun-Nov). Most of the spiked discussions relate to GMO and peoples opinion on organic food. Potentially this could be aligned to the US harvesting period which is typically April to October, depending on what and where.

8. ZOOM INTO THE MAJOR CONVERSATIONS

Once you can see the big quarters that have the most mentions, zoom into them and see what’s going on. Typically there will be one spike bigger than all the rest. If you zoom into this issue, it is a fast way to get to the heart of why that quarter was bigger than the rest.

I zoomed into the top 2 conversations across the 3 year period to see what those major conversations were about.

4 September 2012 – Study released saying organic food has no additional health benefits 6 June 2013 – GMO test in Monsanto has spread

“Organic Food No Better For You” news article released and highly disputed by public.

9. INSIGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

As I went through the study, whenever I found something interesting or worthy of note, I added an “Insight” comment. When I review the study again, I just look for all the Insights, and from the insight, create a relevant recommendation.

*This article also appeared on: https://www.afdigital.com/how-to-surface-actionable-insights-from-social-media-listening/

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