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12 Days of Digital – Day 5: Listening is the new asking

Or is it? In the endless pursuit to make social media business effective there is a growing trend towards monitoring what’s been said on networks for market research.

While organisations are paying more attention to what their customers are saying, there is also lot of white noise masking the relevant chatter. Businesses keen for enlightenment on perceived brand identity, competitor information, industry trends and expectations of stakeholders are turning to monitoring software for insight.

Only publicly accessible sites are open to monitoring and mining software. The software uses a set of search terms to track and discover information on the web. Is it ‘listening’, then, if we have filtered the responses we want to hear? The participants may not know they are being asked a question, but as with a face-to-face focus group, the answer really depends on how the question has been phrased. It is just as important to construct great questions and have a strong purpose as with offline research.

So, as with a great number of social tools, applications aren’t replacing existing methods, they are just enhancing them. As somebody who likes their opinions to be heard and at the same time is a keen researcher the growing number of platforms, free and paid for, and the opportunities they present is an exciting development. To dip your toe in the monitoring pool, try the best new social analytics tools of the year (so far).

Knowing what candid customers are keen to share is a big advantage of social media. It isn’t only the marketing director who can benefit from social media monitoring. Think of risk analysis, business development even product or service design. Hearing what is being said is the first step, listening and acting upon what has been said is very much another. Case studies in crisis management, adapting services and building relationships will be tackled in future posts. If you are interested in content analytics and the future of research check out the Cloud of Knowing Project.

Former BBC producer Kate Pickering has worked in broadcast, innovation and digital media for 14 years. She is Director of media140 delivering events and workshops in the UK, mainland Europe and Australia on the transformation of business using social technologies. A collaborative innovation enthusiast and a firm believer the web is for good as well as play Kate is focused on what’s new and what’s next to better business. She has recently become Innovation Programme Leader at Co-o

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