Are you still using focus groups to feel the pulse of your audience?

Technological advances are changing how we do business. Sadly, for a lot of marketing professionals, the biggest change was from fax to email, and from print ads to the banner. A lot of old practices remained, in spite of the fact that we have better alternatives today.

💡 Read Social Listening Guide: Proven Hacks, Strategies, and Tools

One of the main techniques for market research have been focus groups. Focus groups are one of those 20th century marketing tools we have kept in spite of growing evidence about their shortcomings. They can still be a valuable marketing tool. But for most companies they are expensive, time-intensive and often lead to misleading results.

What Is Social Listening And How To Use It To Explore Public Opinion

Social listening is the process of tracking mentions of your desired keywords across social media, forums, websites, and other media sources to identify trends, track reputation, mitigate crisis, etc. These keywords can be your brand name, key people, competitors, or anything you find useful for your company.

The most convenient thing is that you get all of these keywords in a single dashboard, and you can analyze them further individually or through pre-set reports like in Determ.

Determ feed

How to Conduct an Opinion Research With a Social Listening Tool

Finding relevant information in today’s overflow can be quite a challenge. But with social listening you can filter through the noise and get precisely what you need. Social listening tools enable you to track specific keywords or hashtags from your industry and see how they’re perceived. Or you can track individual media outlets or key people and stay alert whenever an important industry leader posts something new.

In addition you can simply listen to the conversations on forums and social media and identify specific expressions you can use in your campaigns to talk to your audience better. For instance you might be looking to release a new sunscreen product but you’re not sure how to present it to the world. You can insert it in the social listening tool (we used Determ) and get a range of words that people use in the same context with sunscreen. And voila – here’s a list of words you can play around in your new campaign.

Read Predicting Industry Trends: The Strategic Value of Media Monitoring Tools


Analyze the sentiment

Do people generally have a positive, negative or a neutral opinion about the topic of your interest? This is also something you can easily detect through a social listening tool. Instead of looking into every social media comment or review and manually detecting the public perception, social listening enables you to look into all the mentions within a period and see how the sentiment is changing over time.

Read Top 5 Examples of Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment over time; source: Determ

Analyzing sentiment can be a great starting point if you’re thinking of improving your product or introducing something new. And the best part? You can insert your competitor’s keywords, check how people perceive their products and use this info to inform your campaigns.

Track campaigns

You release a new campaign into the world and then what?

You can track how you’re doing on multiple of platforms separately. Or you can use a social listening tool and get all the info in one dashboard and within one report. A social listening tool provides information about engagement, reach, sentiment, influencers, etc. And you can track all of these through time.

Read Campaign Tracking: How to Monitor Your Marketing Efforts with Determ?

Remember Burger King’s Women’s Day campaign in 2021?

Someone from their marketing team through that it would be a great idea to say that “Women belong in the kitchen” in their Women’s Day campaign. Here’s how that went:

Burger King Women’s Day campaign

When you’re tracking the course of your campaign all over the internet in real-time you can immediately see when things go the way you haven’t planned. And react.

Timely reaction can save your brand reputation and diminish the effects of a potential crisis threatening if the campaign goes wrong.

Why Is Social Listening Better Than Focus Groups

1. Social listening data is unbiased

Customers are now talking about your brand with their friends on social media.

They are sharing opinions on aspects of your product you may have never even considered. For example, they might voice their concern over health issues. Or it may be just that they prefer plastic mascara bristles over rubber. Or your double cheeseburger over your hamburger.

These customers may never tweet tagging directly your brand. But there are forums, blogs, comments, and online communities where they are engaging.

Your predefined set of questions will probably never reach some of the topics they are covering, and you won’t be able to estimate the relevance of the answer they are giving.

But if 70% of your customers praise your hamburgers on social media, and 70% are complaining about chicken nuggets, isn’t that a pretty good indicator of opinion? More so than your 100 questions about soda offerings?

With social listening, the data you see is the data you get. These may or may not correspond with your intuitive thinking – which is what makes them good datasets.

advanced report
Determ’s advanced report

2. It is a rare opportunity to observe customers in their natural surrounding

Tara Nicolle-Nelson said that your competitors are not a “who”, but a “what”. In her Harvard Business Review article, she said that at MyFitnessPal, her competitors were not similar lifestyle companies like Weight Watchers, but rather “anything that makes it harder to live a healthy life”, including fast food, biology, and mindless eating.

Social listening is a great way for your company to look at what your target group is doing when they are not mentioning your product. With a good setup, you can find out what problems trouble them in their daily lives, to which issues they devote most of their attention, and how they spend their days.

You can learn more about your customers by taking a look at parenting forums to see what questions parents are asking, than by asking them directly about their habits and opinions on child-rearing.

This type of data does not always have to be quantitative, but it can influence your next marketing moves. Think of it as focus groups, only on a million-people scale.

Read How to Use Media Monitoring for Competition Analysis

3. It’s real-time research, as opposed to focus groups

If you are a big company, the perception your customers have about your brand can shift in weeks, even days. 

Focus groups may have worked at a time when marketing campaigns were few and far between. But with social media becoming the foremost source of information for consumers, there are micro-level shifts in perception happening every day.

It is part of your job as a marketer to capture these shifts, recognise them and act on them before they snowball. If you are still focused on focus groups, you are going to lag behind.

To Wrap Up

Maybe you tried social listening a while ago, but quit because the amount of data you were getting was insufficient, or the service was expensive. But the features of social listening tools are constantly evolving, and the products are constantly becoming more affordable. A lot of them now include automated sentiment, options to analyse by topics, and other meaningful data.

If you are ready to give social listening a go, book a demo with Determ – our experts will show you exactly how you can inspect the public opinion using social listening.

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