Thinking Social / Value

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Defining Real Insights in Social Listening

Last month, our Social@Ogilvy team in Chicago came together for the practice’s Black Belt Training, which shares an update on industry trends, best practices and recent work from our global network. I had the opportunity to speak on social listening and the key role it plays for nearly everything we do—in research, in strategy and in our ever-evolving engagement on behalf of brands online.

Social listening is at the heart of building a great social media program. It’s through listening and understanding your audience online that insights are developed and business value is created.

Our global head of data and analytics, Irfan Kamal, recently wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review Blogs called “Metrics are Easy; Insight is Hard.” The post addresses the abundance of data in marketing today, while insights remain relatively rare.

Our technology has enabled us to learn more than ever about what consumers want online. But in a world of 340 million tweets a day, 584 million daily active Facebook users, and steady streams on new platforms, like Pinterest and Instagram, it’s hard to narrow down on the insights that count.

Listening in social media is not a new concept in 2012. Many clients are using their own listening technology. The real business value in listening comes from the analysis, the ability to distill the information into truly new insight.

In our Chicago training, we discussed what defines a real insight. This is distinguished from other findings often encountered in research:

  • Data junk—All those numbers that, while impressive, can be useless or irrelevant if presented without interpretation.
  • Practical knowledge—Lots of relevant information that doesn’t yet add up to reveal anything new and insightful online.

To come to an insight, we must synthesize multiple aspects of the online conversation with both extensive knowledge of the business and understanding of consumer behavior. This is how we provide value to our clients through social listening.

If you think you’ve found an insight, you’ll want to consider a few factors:

  • Has your analysis combined two or more new findings about the consumer, culture or business?
  • Have you reviewed secondary research?
  • Did you take other digital elements into account, such as search and other websites or platforms?

These guidelines will lead us to the insights that lay the foundation for great social strategies.

What’s an example you’ve seen of a true social insight in action?