Social Media Listening Must Earn Its Stripes


Share on LinkedIn

Social media “listening” is an immature yet rapidly emerging form of consumer research. In making the case for social media research, The Advertising Research Foundation’s (ARF) new read “The Listening Playbook, ” isn’t critical enough in assessing why social media research has yet to obtain more widespread acceptance.

In addition to recent economic constraints and the lack of clear ownership of social media on the client side, there are other important, interconnected factors preventing listening from gaining greater traction as a valuable research tool:

1) Lack of credible case study work. Social media listening needs to be sold on merit, not fear. Horror stories involving Motrin, Domino’s and KFC warn of the hazards of not listening, despite the swift and well executed responses to each crisis. The BMW Mini and Purina examples (originally published in 2008’s Groundswell) are great, but getting long in the tooth. The industry needs to offer more examples of how brands are proactively leveraging social media to obtain true consumer insight and business intelligence.

2) Everybody’s an expert. With PR companies, software companies (and their reselling agents), advertising / media agencies, and research firms all out their peddling “listening solutions,” it will take time for clients to sort out who’s really offering something of value. We think that research firms are the natural fit for a analyzing social media, for reasons described in the next point:

3) Fulfilling the promise of social media listening is hard work. There’s no magic button that can turn the chaos of social media into insights. Getting there requires a sound methodology and analytic rigour. People need to power the discovery of insights. Passing off raw data or some automated solution as insights is both lazy and only serves to undermine the credibility of social media research and will impair acceptance.

So, will social media “listening” ever fulfill its promise? The answer is yes. But just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, it will take time for social media research to gain more widespread acceptance. And while consumer behaviour will likely drive market adoption of listening research, the industry must enforce a higher set of standards and professionalism for social media to earn its place alongside traditional market research.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patrick Gladney
Patrick Gladney is the leader and chief development officer for Social Currency, Northstar Research Partners social media measurement and monitoring business. A seasoned communications and business strategist, he believes in the transformational power and potential of the social web, including its ability to uncover unique insights that can positively impact marketing and product strategy.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here