Using Social Listening and Online Communities to Optimise your Research

As the times change and technologies evolve, it is important that all industries and professions adapt to stay relevant. That of course includes market research.

Nowadays, social listening and analytics is (or at least should be) an integral part of market research and customer insights. Adding these proven concepts to your already functioning surveys will optimise the efficiency and accuracy of your research by giving fully representative data of how consumers perceive your brands and products.

Artificial Intelligence can now be used to discover new customer insights. With Machine Learning (the most successful type of A.I.) and computational linguistic methods, it is now possible to conduct text analytics, NLP and sentiment & semantic analysis amongst others, with high accuracy, on millions of public online posts or other unstructured text; something impossible to do manually, thus accessing otherwise unobtainable sources and findings.

These methods can be applied to any brand/topic/country/language and can be integrated with and inform traditional MR.

What to look for in a social listening platform?

When using a Social Listening & Analytics solution for research, generally the specific purpose for this is to discover your customer’s insights. In order to obtain accurate data, the platform would need to be able to access online posts on any public website and in any language. The insights that are detected can then be integrated with surveys and other data.

A high focus on accuracy is required through and through: to ensure this, the platform must have the ability of cleaning each dataset ridding it from any irrelevant data before analysis is carried out and then d

elivering the results with sentiment and semantic topics.

How can Social Listening benefit a business?

Social Listening can help any brand or organisation find out what is being said about themselves and their competitors online and manage their online reputation on social media and other online locations. This in turn enables them to better understand how consumers express themselves and how they feel about a brand or product. Furthermore, it can be used for the benefit of multiple departments within an organisation, for example, to evaluate digital marketing campaigns, improve advertising efforts, develop innovative and compelling products, even address operational and customer service opportunities or identify potential customers to be.

In this quest to adapt to change, traditional market researchers and research buyers should embrace it to the full extent. This means that it is also important to understand the power of integration – connecting t

he dots between multiple data sources and using various digital methodologies to reach true insights. Integrating social listening with asking questions on an online community would be a good first step.

What are Online Communities used for?

You can think of online communities as ‘insights on demand’. This is the era of consumer engagement and it is important that every brand and every organisation has open and continuous dialogue with their customers and stakeholders.

As a matter of fact, online communities can be used for engagement with prospects, customers, stakeholders, key influencers, even employees – for different purposes of course. Stakeholders can be kept informed of any crucial decisions, employees can communicate amon

gst themselves building team spirit while, at the same time, being heard from the employer when it comes to employee satisfaction, a brand could even identify key influencers through their social analytics efforts and invite them to join an exclusive community in order to reach deeper and more meaningful insights.

What to expect from your online community?

It is important that your online community platform enables the recruitment and engagement of 10s, 100s, or even 1000s, of your customers for co-creation, to give you unique insights and strengthen your customer loyalty. The right platform would allow for customisation and branding (or “unbranding”) to match your research needs. Along with this, there would usually be a wide range of tools for research such as polls, bulletin boards, chat groups, photo & video diaries, and the ability to easily integrate 3rd party tools.

Online communities have no limitations when it comes to geographical location and they can help you interact with p

eople around the world in a cost effective way, opening a window into consumers’ lives, streamlining all your qualitative research needs and connecting the dots between multiple ways of gathering information. Asking questions no longer has to be boring.