The Vociferous Few, and The Silent You

People love to talk. Thanks to the proliferation of social media, it’s never been easier for people to talk to one another. Of course, this applies to businesses as well. You’ve got a brand to promote, and are undoubtedly leveraging social media to do so.

Conversation is a two way street. You were born with two ears and one mouth. It's always a good idea to use them at that ratio.

If you listen closely enough you’re bound to find that, amidst the white noise of selfies and status updates, people are talking about your brand, offering their unsolicited opinions about it to all of their friends and followers.

Now, at this point you might be thinking you’ve succeeded. People ARE talking about your brand, which is what you’ve set out to accomplish all this time, isn’t it?

Not necessarily. Take Pepsi’s recent PR fiasco:

While digital content engagement around Pepsi rose significantly as a result of the ad, the response was far from positive: 43 percent of those talking about the ad mentioned Black Lives Matter, 31 percent labeled the ad as “tone-deaf,” and 10 percent went so far as to call it the “worst ever.”

Let’s not forget United Airlines either:

CEO Oscar Munoz initially stood behind his employees, and praised the way security handled the forceful removal of passenger Dr. David Dao. It wasn’t until the company’s stock market value fell by $1 billion that he changed his tune and apologized.

Even Google is still struggling to win back advertisers after catching flack for hosting ads alongside questionable content.

Of course it goes without saying that you want people to say good things about your brand, but that’s not the point. The point is that there needs to be less focus on talk, and more on listening.

If you aren’t paying attention and truly listening, then you’re missing out on a whole world of consumer insight that, when leveraged properly, can not only make your creative content better, but can open the door to a world of original, game-changing creative strategies that would otherwise be inaccessible.

How exactly? Let’s break it down:

You want to launch a social media campaign for your brand, but are unsure which platform to focus your efforts on in order to achieve the best results. A quick look might show that the brand has more followers on Facebook than Instagram. Easy choice, right?

Maybe not.

Sure, something may get thousands of likes of Facebook, but so what? Think about how often you scroll through your feed mindlessly tap the “like” button. A lot, right?

What really matters is actual engagement, content triggering people to comment, share, or tag their friends or family.

Zooming in a bit further on your brand’s social media presence may reveal that, despite being smaller in number, the Instagram audience is far more engaged, and deeply devoted to your brand, and this should be your target.

Listening in on what consumers are saying can be helpful, but their silence is just as telling. If a recently executed campaign isn’t performing as well as you expected, it is most likely a sign that you need a new approach.

Take note, and create a new, more immersive format.

Tapping into social-listening tools—like Sysemos—ensures that your creative is always evolving and adapting to the ever-changing social media landscape. It can even be used to better inform your creative strategy in the early stages of the campaign planning process.

When trying to leverage the influence of musical artists, for example, Spotify analytics can help choose performers that resonate most with target audience.

Spotify themselves are masters of social listening. They play close attention to what their users are listening to, and when they’re listening. By delving so deep into listening habits, Spotify is able to ensure that marketers purchasing ad space on the platform are targeting users whose lifestyles most align with the brand’s message.

Spotify then takes this a step further, using listening data to ensure they are running ads at the most opportune time. This is based on what users are doing in that particular moment—running, entertaining guests, relaxing, etc.

Another company upping the ante on social is Mars. They have begun taking advantage of practices that border on social watching.

Mars recently paired with a software company called Realeyes to study how people’s emotional reactions to various ads impacted their effectiveness. Using webcams, Realeyes monitored the facial expressions of participants as they watched several ads. Based on their expression, they were able to predict with 75% accuracy the effectiveness of each ad.

Mihkel Jäätma, CEO of Realeyes said: "Being able to identify strong creative with high sales impact enables advertisers to push these ads, and avoid putting media spend behind those with low, or worse – no sales impact. It’s about spending campaign budgets more effectively, optimizing ad creation and media buying at no additional cost."

L’Oreal is also paying attention to consumer trends. They discovered that their customersdon’t want to talk to humans anymore; they want to interact with their phones and still have their needs satiated.

Capitalizing on this, L’Oreal created a mobile-based augmented reality tool called Makeup Genuis that allows customers to get a professional makeup treatment without having to go to a store, or to talk to a single employee.

And while L’Oreal’s strategy in this case applies strictly to mobile, the philosophy behind it is one that all marketers should adapt to in our now mobile dominated world:

It’s time to stop thinking about advertising as advertising, and start thinking about it as an experience—an access point into people’s lives.

Finding a way to associate your brand with the things that your customers are already talking about is without a doubt one of the best, and most effective ways to ensure that your brand remains relevant, and if done correctly, become a brand whose existence people get excited about.

So just sit back, listen, let the data and the consumer take the wheel, and drive your creative strategy.

James Nash