Social media monitoring is widely used to inform customer service, product development and marketing activities. Going the next step — from mere monitoring to careful listening — can help brands uncover a wealth of additional, rich insights.

True listening is not data on a spreadsheet acquired by applying legacy "asking" methodology. It requires putting an ear to a wide spectrum of conversations, thoughtful interpretation and judgment of the data, then applying what's discovered to improve listening activities. And listening research is not limited to social channels.

As part of Kraft Foods' Consumer Insight and Strategy Group, Frank Cotignola leads community and knowledge management, along with social media listening and consulting efforts.

In this conversation, we explore how social media listening can offer new understanding through sentiment analysis and access to broader topics that — in the past — you may not have had the funds to tap.

Does social listening supersede asking research such as surveys? Cotignola argues — convincingly — for the continued use of both. Among the other topics we cover:

  • Too many brands may be using social listening only for damage prevention/control, short changing its potential
  • We are seeing the democratization of data, thanks to free and low-cost tools that allow small and medium-sized business access to previously unaffordable early-on research
  • As most conversations are not about brands, only listening to what's being said about your brand misses the richness and possibilities of listening research
  • Many of the limitations of listening research are created, not by the data itself, but the data being used in a narrow fashion
  • Listening research may be valid and actionable without tapping the representative sample of target consumers that is often the keystone of asking research

Listening has the power to liberate research and researchers to make previously inaccessible — and now actionable — discoveries. What have you uncovered through your social listening?

This convo is sponsored by:

VitrueVitrue, an original Facebook Preferred Developer Consultant, is the leading social marketing platform facilitating relationships between brands and their fans across multiple social networks via its software-as-a-service solutions. Social marketers and agencies world-wide use Vitrue’s Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform and its Publisher, Tabs, Shop and Analytics products.

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is one of the world’s leading social media monitoring and analysis tools, with offices in the UK, US, Germany and Brazil. Global brands and agencies use our tool to cut through the noise on the social web and find the conversation that matters, empowering decisions that improve their business. 

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Neil Glassman is principal marketing strategist at WhizBangPowWow, where he delivers integrated social, digital and linear media solutions. Join his conversations on Twitter and Google +.