2 Solid Reasons Why Text Analytics Can Amp Up Your Social Listening Game

— April 21, 2017

Opinion: With a text-based analytics mindset, you can free yourself from the optimization hamster wheel

Sigmund Freud once wrote, “Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.” If he were alive today, he might say the same of our social media posts.

Through language, we broadcast to the world what we love, what we hate, what we wish for, what’s bothering us—even why we buy certain products and why we don’t.

To a social media marketer, all of this noise should be a virtual goldmine.

Yet we still see brands and agencies creating social content based on a flimsy hunch about what their dream audience might want or might feel. Sure, they may tap into market research, analyze past campaign performance data and pay attention to industry trends, but most marketers tend to use these “insights” to justify chasing after some generic target persona or demographic.

To me, the whole process is backwards. Instead of trying to woo people who you think might want to buy your product, why not go out and find every person who has clearly expressed a need for what you’re selling?

Every second of every day, your most valuable future customers are dropping clues about how they want to be marketed to. The key is learning how to tune in and act on it. This practice, in a nutshell, is the basis of an emerging social media marketing discipline called advanced text-based analytics.

The hard part isn’t collecting the data. There are tons of off-the-shelf solutions to do just that (e.g., Sprinklr, Brandwatch).

The real challenge is learning how to recognize patterns in the data, draw insights from it and use those insights to create the kinds of content that will get people to think, do or say what you want them to.

So how do you get started? Here are two ways text analytics can help amp up your social listening game, improve your content strategy and better inform every social campaign.

Text analytics helps you dial it back to the basics

I recently asked a room full of social media marketers what they thought their job was. When I asked if it was to “convince your target audience to buy your product,” nearly every hand shot up.

Au contraire: Your job isn’t to try to convince your “dream customer” to believe in something they don’t believe in or want something they don’t need. Your job is to be an unmarketer: Find people who have the problem that your product solves, connect them with the product and show them how it solves their problem.

The beauty of integrating some form of text-based analytics into your social strategy is that it allows you to do just that.

For example: One of my clients sells anti-dandruff shampoo. It smells good and it does the job. The problem? In order to come up with a social content framework that would resonate with people who suffered from dandruff, we needed to understand how people truly felt about their scalp issues.

So we listened to what people were saying on social. As it turned out, both men and women were embarrassed by their flakes, but they differed in their confidence to solve it. Men expressed “fear” and “dissatisfaction” toward a resolution, while women were far more optimistic that their problem could be solved.

What’s great about text-based analytics is that it helps you uncover exactly which emotions might impact a change in behavior. If men were far less optimistic, it only made sense for us to serve up social content that would alleviate their fears, give them a sense of control and turn their doubts into confidence. And if women were more optimistic, then it made sense for us to tout why our shampoo was better than any brand out there.

It worked. Engagement levels (and sales) shot through the roof.

Text analytics saves you from the optimization hamster wheel

Many social marketers are becoming fatigued by optimization. Relying on basic social analytics, they’ll adjust copy length, calls to action and what time of day they post. They’ll try images with text and without text. They’ll try better lighting and more natural photo filters. Anything to help boost those vanity metrics.

With a text-based analytics mindset, you can free yourself from the optimization hamster wheel and go back to the drawing board.

For example: By organizing and analyzing the text-based conversations swirling around your product, you can unearth every barrier that prevents people from trying or buying it. Once you’ve got a better handle on these barriers—whether it’s price, ease of use or a common misconception—you can create and amplify content that directly addresses those barriers.

In other words, you can focus optimizing your content based upon actual business goals, not “How can I better entertain my audience?”

Above all, the practice of text-based analytics helps you pave the “royal road” to your audience’s unconscious motivations, fears, desires and so much more. Any marketer would be crazy not to follow it.

Article originally published in Adweek (May 2017).

Image courtesy of iLexx/iStock.

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Author: David Richeson

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