Five Brands Applying Best Practices for Social Listening Success

Constantly hearing you need to level-up your brand's social listening may communicate the importance of social media intelligence for today's retailers – but it doesn't tell you how or why. Here are five best practices from NetBase's Social Media Best Practices Guide 2016: Retail Brands – and the brands successfully putting them into action.

1. Leverage competitive advantages. Competing in a crowded marketplace means understanding what you bring to the table that's different. For Banana Republic it's their high-ranking omni-channel customer experience that allows them to stand out among other competitors.

How to do the same: Use consumer feedback to learn what makes your brand special, and shine a light on those distinctions in your messaging. Track untraditional competitors (start-ups, e-retailers, etc.) to avoid being disrupted by up-and-comers more "in touch" with consumer preferences.

2. Target your campaigns to inspire consumer passion. To grow awareness and inspiration among your audience base, identify consumer passions, perceptions and concerns – and tailor your messaging accordingly. Nike did this with their "Unlimited You" campaign, striking a chord with consumers frustrated by their inability to overcome obstacles to achieve their goals. Their 93% sentiment score (consumer love) proves they hit their target just right.

How to do the same: Create better campaigns by tracking positive and
negative reactions – and making adjustments – in real-time.

3. Monitor for potential threats, and respond to crises quickly. No brand is immune to PR disasters, so use social listening to be apprised of industry issues, as well as individual brand threats. This is something Whole Foods has focused on, after years of over-pricing accusations affected their sentiment scores and company stock. Their newly formed crisis response group is now ready to respond to brewing social threats immediately.

How to do the same: Set predictive alerts to be notified at the earliest inkling of a social crisis and set protocols to follow when threats appear. Anyone from PR, Legal and Operations may be part of your crisis management team.

4. Get a dimensional picture of your customers by combining data sources. Surveys, focus groups and shopper journeys tell you a lot, but for real-time insights, nothing beats social media. When fashion brand Kate Spade began monitoring the 4 million conversations of its buyers on social, they were able to respond to the changing needs of their customers and regain their footing after a drop in performance.

How to do the same: Reach beyond demographic information to understand psychographic data – the behaviors, attitudes and desires – of your audience. Uncover a more dynamic buyer persona by combining social, survey and sales data.

5. Take calculated risks with new channels and emerging trends. Times change, and brands must as well – or risk becoming irrelevant to new generations of shoppers. Nordstrom understands this best, and smartly experiments with new experiential offerings, while actively engaging consumers on the most active social channels. Their Anniversary Sale was such a success it earned a Passion Intensity score of 100 – the highest value for strength of consumer sentiment on social.

How to do the same: Monitor your customers’ social channels to understand what they value – like style, selection, sales and service. Experiment with new trends and make changes to see what ranks highest with customers, and tweak based on results.

Social listening isn't an abstract concept – it's a valid tool used by top brands to stay ahead of their competitors. Follow their lead and use the best practices above to be sure your brand stays on top as well. 

Paige Leidig, CMO at NetBase
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