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By now, we all know how important social listening, and sentiment analysis, are for a brand’s success.  Chances are that you’re using this on a regular basis and, I’d hazard a guess that you’re doing this by plugging in three things - the name of your brand, the name of your product and, the names of your competitors.  That’s great - well done you!  

However, social listening can do so much more for us than just reporting on how people feel about our brands, products and competition.  These clever tools can help brands to dial direct when targeting customers by peeling away the layers and looking into their very soul.  

OK, this may sound a little X Men but, don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you come over all Wolverine.  Instead, I’ve put together the following guide to five surprising ways that you should be using social listening right now:

Purchase power

As we approached Lockdown Season 2, consumers began to, once again, stock up on products that they felt may become scarce.  This resulted in items like toilet roll and dried pasta flying off the shelves again.  Between the 21st of February and the 3rd of March this year, the term ‘out of stock’ was mentioned on social media 137,000 times.  You see what I’m getting at?  

Use your social listening tool to look for terms such as ‘panic buying’, ‘out of stock’, ‘can’t find in the stores’ etc.  

For a brand, this can be really useful in getting a picture of what it is that customers want to buy and, more importantly, the items that they’re struggling to get hold of.   You can then tweak your marketing accordingly - if you are able to provide the product then, great but, even if you can’t, you can put together some high-value content which offers a solution. 

Remote possibilities

This year, a huge number of employees have switched to remote working which has had a significant impact on both employees and employers.  It shouldn’t, therefore, surprise you that this is something that has been talked about on social media a great deal - in fact, between the 14th of March and the 6th of April, Twitter recorded 6500 uses of the hashtag #WFH (not including retweets).  These tweets are a combination of positives and negatives and, also include vital information about the kind of problems that have arisen from working remotely.

These tweets offer brands a unique opportunity to identify specific pain points of those who are working remotely and then to tailor their content accordingly. 

Use your sentiment analysis tool to look for terms such as ‘working from home’, ‘home office’ or ‘remote work issues’. 

Sentiment analysis for working from home

Piggybacking the pandemic

Needless to say, the online mentions of the pandemic have been endless and, so, simply searching related words would not be a good use of your time.  However, if you piggyback these terms with terms specific to your product or brand, this can provide you with some valuable results.  

For example, you might plug in COVID-19 followed by a qualifying search relevant to your business, i.e. cell phone or software.  By doing this, you can uncover a treasure trove of commentary which you can then respond to with your content. 

The name game

Earlier this year, social listening company, Awario, used its own tool to put together a Topic Cloud with reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The results showed a number of related words but, only one person’s name - Donald Trump.  

This may be unsurprising considering that the ex-President has rarely been out of the headlines this year, however, it does add a new dimension to social listening for brands.  

Topic cloud for COVID-19

This year, social media users have been anything but shy when it comes to mentioning Government officials in their posts with subjects ranging from furloughs and business grants to the virus itself.  

By using your sentiment analysis tool to search for targeted MPs such as Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy or, Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, you’re likely to get a great picture of how businesses feel about various developments and, what their concerns and fears are.

Strong language

The internet is pretty much stuffed to the gills with mentions of topics which pertain to the coronavirus and, not all of these are helpful.  A vague search of terms relating to the pandemic will throw up a lot of neutral posts by people who are ‘quite pleased’ or ‘a bit miffed’ about how things are going.  

This, unfortunately, is unlikely to get the job done for your brand.  Instead, you want to be using your sentiment analysis tool to search for strong, highly emotive words and phrases which might reasonably be in reference to the pandemic or a side product of the pandemic.  

For this reason, searching words such as ‘furious’, ‘devastated’ and ‘feel like giving up’ are much more likely to return a large number of results which will give you a clear and stark picture about how people feel about certain parts of the current situation. 

Social listening is made up of two words - and the second one is the most important.  When using a social listening or sentiment analysis tool, you’re looking to (a) find out what people are talking about right now and (b) how they feel about it.  This means getting a little bit creative when using your tool rather than just using it for mentions of your brand, product or service or to snoop on your competition.  

Once you start to look at this from a different perspective, you’ll discover that there are endless ways in which you can use social listening to identify current pain points and to connect with customers in a more relevant and effective way. 
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