Social Listening: Getting to know customers or Cyberstalking

Social listening which can be also known as social monitoring, is a tool which marketers use to find out what customers are saying about companies, products and even brands online.

To read more about what Social listening is, I suggest a quick look at the Tech Target article.

Social listening has been a growing tool for marketers in the last decade and has proved very successful for some companies.  As a Marketer, in my opinion, I feel it is a crucial way of getting to know your customers and their needs and wants.  Social media has become so popular in previous years as a way of communication and it is now possible for marketers to get to know their customers without them even knowing.

social L
Source: Flickr

Don’t fear if you are a social media rookie or even an expert the internet provides a vast amount of platforms that your company can use to help you listen to what your customers are saying about you.

Brandwatch, a very reputable website has written a blog to help any marketer learn the tricks of the trade and help them gather the information necessary to listen to customers and take notes using analytical platforms.  In this blog they outline 15 different social media monitoring tools.  These are basic packages and are not recommended for the professional listener.

In the below video Brand24 who are an analytics company for social listening explain what it can do for you and how it works:

The big question that social listening seems to always bring up is, is social listening ethical or unethical?  Well this discussion has been ongoing for the last decade now. 

There is a big divide when it comes to Yes or No.

If I was to leave my information public with no privacy settings, is that ok?

Or if that information was private should my information be taken by others…

Can any harm be done by taking this information?

There are so many apps on Facebook and other platforms asking for permission to access your details every day and as humans we are impatient and just press ok without reading any app permissions.  Do we even know what information we are leaving public and allowing others to see?  It is recommended to those who feel it is unethical to be more aware of what they do and share online.

We could argue that it was only meant for a certain audience but if the information was made public who is this audience?  Some may say that it is invasive, impolite or even a form of eavesdropping but it always goes back to the point that the information was easily available online.  I’m a believer that, if you didn’t want people to see it, it should not have been put there in the first place.

In my opinion, I believe that this form of research cannot be classified as unethical, it isn’t dishonest, it does not invade personal privacy and it does not cause any obvious harm.

Source: Flickr

The aim of social listening is not just to target the customer with as much media advertising as possible based on their tastes rather target the customer with a more personalized approach to help them to choose products based on what they are saying, need and want.  There is a mutual benefit here, a win-win situation.

According to the Huffington Post, knowing about your audience and having a direct channel to reach them is important for a brand to reach the right people.  These are the people that want to hear from them.  Having this information can ensure a more engaging and interactive experience for the customer with the brand.

A quote by author Jeremy Goldman states “Listening is one of the most important things a brand can do online.  If your brand is just broadcasting it’s own agenda, it isn’t truly engaging in a conversation.”

The best example to explain the point of social listening would be that of the biscuit company Oreo and the campaign they launched:

Oreo 1.jpg
Source: Flickr

The Oreo Daily Twist:

Each day Oreo used either a fun or politically risky approach of visually refashioning their cookie to relate to the news each day.  It was a highly successful campaign that was performed in real time and related to the news.  In the end consumers had a thoughtful and interesting experience.  The brand listened to all the data, used it effectively and this helped all consumers to have an engaging experience.

For this reason, I believe that social listening is not a form of cyber-stalking but instead a form of listening to your customer and truly understanding them.  It is far from unethical as the information is readily available.

I would advise anyone who is interested in reading more discussions on this topic to check out a blog written by Danny Brown who is a Marketer himself.

Hope you enjoyed my blog,

Until next time,

Michael B


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