The media landscape is constantly changing. We went from town criers and “the public square” to the printing press, which brought with it books, and newspapers. Then came radio, and soon after film and television.
And now we’ve had a digital revolution. The Internet gave everyone access to information from anywhere, and social networks made every person a publisher.
Now we have all of these, with new developments arriving every year. There has never been more information available at once. This is true for the average person, but it’s also true for brands.
Businesses can know what buyers and industry voices think of their products immediately. This gives actionable insights to any business that truly wants them.
The tricky part is managing all that data. That’s why we need social listening.
Social listening lets you take information from every major social media data source and distill it into useful metrics, in one place. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss important conversations online. But on the other, there are simply too many social posts every second, minute, and hour to monitor them on your own.
Social listening platforms do all the manual work for you. They show you:
And there’s plenty more information to be found.
A key part of good social listening is that you have complete social data coverage. So to help, here are the 6 most important social data sources, and the brands they matter most to.
Launched: March 2006
Monthly active users: 336 million
Posts per minute: Over 350,000
We’re starting with a classic, but for good reason. Brands have used Twitter as an important place to share ideas and give quick reactions to trends. Now, when a company needs to make a statement, Twitter’s usually the first place you’ll find it.
But it’s also a wonderful social data source. Consumers also post reactions, give opinions, and make complaints on the network. These tend to be highly authentic, honest tweets that tell you how your customers really feel.
Perhaps more important, Twitter is usually the first place where people respond to your latest campaigns and products. In fast-changing industries like fashion and tech, the sooner you can gather customer insights, the quicker you can adapt. Which makes Twitter a very powerful tool.
It’s also the place where bad news breaks. Which means brands have to be on top of what’s being said. A serious data breach, a misstep by an executive, or a poorly worded tweet from the company itself could all get out of hand quickly.
For some, Twitter has a bad reputation as a place for bullying and negativity. But the user base is growing of late, and the platform has become more essential in the age of Trump. Not only is it where the President makes official statements, but journalists and tastemakers react in real time to breaking news.
We may be about to see the another major growth spurt for this important social network.
If you’re a marketer or company executive reading this, the answer is you. But Twitter is especially valuable for:
— Nike (@Nike) September 5, 2018
Basically, every smart brand.
You probably already keep an eye on the Twitter basics:
And of course, you can track all of these for any brand or keyword you like, including competitors.
But we really care about gathering insights. Which means looking for more than just statistics about your own tweets.
Here’s what social listening can extract from Twitter:
With such high volume of tweets posted every minute, there’s an incredible wealth of information available to brands on Twitter.
Launched: October 2010
Monthly active users: Over 1 billion
Posts per day: 95 million
The past two years have been incredible for Instagram. It has grown steadily to more than 1 billion users, has introduced popular features including Stories, and has managed to keep a clean reputation despite criticism of its parent company.
And it’s also undeniably the coolest of the major social networks. Brands and consumers alike work hard to maintain the right image, and influencers make millions per year as trend setters.
So what makes Instagram a valuable data source?
To start with, it’s the fastest growing platform in the world – apparently by a lot. And what’s more, it’s particularly important for Millennials.
We’ve written before about how marketing to millennials is vital for modern brands. Which means that Instagram should be a big deal for most marketers.
But as a data source, what makes it most intriguing is that Instagram posts are often aspirational. Users post about what they love and what they want most in life.
This lets brands see what matters to potential customers, and adjust their products accordingly. If you care about achieving product-market fit, this is a great tool to help gauge your market.
Despite its growing importance, Instagram may not interest every company – especially B2B businesses. But there are a few types of businesses for whom the platform is utterly essential:
As a rule of thumb, if your target buyers are under 35 years old, you probably need to care.
There are a few classic Instagram numbers that every active brand should look at:
Social listening tools like Radarly then apply extra analytics on top of these to show you:
Simple Instagram data is easy to find. But if you want to move beyond the classic “vanity metrics,” you’ll need a tool to help you. More on that at the bottom of this post.
Launched: February 2004
Monthly active users: 2.27 billion
“Likes” per minute: 4 million
Unlike Instagram, Facebook hasn’t had the best time over the last few years. People are losing trust in the platform, and we may be seeing the beginning of the decline of this social giant.
And yet, over the past decade Facebook became an intrinsic part of everyday life. Nearly a third of the people on Earth use it every month. The user base is growing, and people rely on it to keep in touch and communicate with each other.
For 2019, Facebook is still very much a giant.
Facebook data can help virtually every business imaginable. It’s still the biggest social network in the world, and people use it to communicate with both the tiny bakery on the corner and international conglomerates like Toyota and AT&T.
We also know so much more about Facebook users than we typically do for Twitter or Instagram. People typically use their real names, and profiles include everything from their favorite brands to foods they like. If you’re trying to find new audience demographics and learn more about your buyers, it’s hard to imagine a better data source than Facebook.
Which is why it also has unbeatable opportunities for targeted advertising. Brands can discover new groups or “tribes” thanks to social listening, create the perfect advertising campaign, then distribute it easily to the exact people they’re trying to reach.
It has also become less dominated by publishers in recent years. This may be bad news for brands wanting to share their marketing messages, but it means that more consumers use the platform to share their own thoughts (and not just read what Buzzfeed or NowThis have shared).
As said above, just about every business can use Facebook for marketing. But this data source is particularly valuable to:
It’s not time to forget the ‘book just yet.
Most advice online will tell you that these are the most important Facebook statistics:
Those are all interesting, and you can find them in the Insights section of your company’s Facebook page:
But again, social listening tools give you more. For example, you’ll be able to see:
Facebook gives users a huge amount of information on their own posts. To go beyond this, social listening is your best friend.
We’re talking about a few apps in one here, because they may all be brand new to you. As is often the case in business, China can be a world of its own. But as it opens it doors more to the West, brands need to start learning more about the way Chinese consumers communicate.
First, a quick breakdown of a few leading Chinese networks:
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The point is, there’s an entire social media universe in China that may be completely unknown to western brands.
As with everything in China, the scale is impressive. There are more than 1 billion monthly active users on WeChat, and nearly 450 million MAUs on Sina Weibo (more than Twitter).
So there’s a lot of potential social media data available to brands if they’re ready to pay attention.
They’re also an insight into different ways of going about your daily life. WeChat, specifically, is something “you cannot survive without” in China. Users do everything on the platform, and this could be a glimpse of future buyer behavior for the rest of the world.
Plus, the Chinese market is increasingly important for global brands. Asian consumers in general want access to western brands more than ever, and not only luxury fashion and high-end technology.
While every innovative brand should want to understand this market better, there are a few types of companies who stand to benefit most:
These are interesting times for western businesses in Asia. Arm yourself with valuable social data.
As you might expect, Chinese social platforms involve many of the same key metrics for brands:
The difference is that this information isn’t always easy to obtain. China sits behind “The Great Firewall,” which closes the countries internet off to most of the rest of the world.
But comprehensive social listening tools can still collect data from these platforms. They’ll show you:
Chances are you don’t have great visibility into Asian consumer habits. Social listening is a great way to get it.
Note: Linkfluence is one of the most important official Western partners of Sina Weibo with comprehensive APAC social data.
YouTube launched: February 2005
YouTube monthly active viewers: 1.9 billion
YouTube videos uploaded per minute: 400 hours’ worth
You may not think of YouTube as a classic social network. But in fact, it’s technically the second-largest social network in the world by number of users. And even if you’ve never had a “conversation” on the platform, there are still millions of them happening every day.
YouTube has become a vital information source for people around the world. When they want to see what a new product looks like out of the box, or how a car performs under certain conditions (for example), this is where they come.
So brands need to know what’s being said about their products and services on YouTube.
Let’s start with a fun fact that many of you will already know: YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world (after its parent company Google). When people need answers, YouTube is often the first place they turn.
It’s also become a crucial site for every modern video advertising campaign. Viewers can now watch your advertisements on-demand from anywhere in the world. Whereas advertisers used to control when and where their commercials would appear, they’re now streaming 24/7.
Which is a good thing for well-received campaigns. If your creative hits the mark and inspires audiences, it’s now easy for them to share it all over social media. Starting with YouTube.
But it’s not so great when a commercial hits the wrong note. Big brands have had campaigns derailed when their advertisements go viral for negative reasons:
All of this makes YouTube data so valuable. You need to see every comment and complaint that lands on your videos. But you also need to know about the comments left all over the site, especially on videos you don’t own.
And that’s what social listening is so good at.
The answer, again, is everyone. If you’re a marketer who cares about what people search for and how they react to major campaigns, you should be paying attention. But especially if work with:
Remember that YouTube really is a social network (as well as a search engine and broadcaster). Comments and complaints here can be just as interesting as any on Twitter or Facebook.
YouTube data is valuable if you want more powerful video campaigns. Your own YouTube account will tell you:
But once again, this data is mostly only available for your own content. For others’ content, social listening can show you:
Your YouTube monitoring should go beyond your own content – just like for every social network. That’s why brands use social listening tools.
These are not necessarily social platforms, but they use social media to help get their messages out. They can be the launchpads for new trends and popular movements, as well as the sources of misinformation.
For global brands, it’s imperative to track these sites and see what’s said about your brand.
Like it or not, these are often the first places that people get their news. They often have the first reviews of the hottest new sneakers, a teardown of the latest iPhone, or insider gossip about what’s happening on the stock exchange.
They’re tastemakers, and brands rely on them to drive sales. Which means that brands need to know:
And the easiest way to do this is to monitor brand names with a listening tool.
These sites don’t necessarily appeal to everyday consumers. But for some businesses, they’re mandatory reading. These include:
Think about where people look for advice before buying your products. If they visit these sorts of sites, you’ll want to start tracking them.
There’s a very good chance that you’re not paying close attention to all of these sites. For your next PR launch, you may already be tracking:
This is often how we measure the success of a campaign.
But a social listening tool will also show you:
Whether they’re industry tastemakers or potential sources of bad news, it’s important to track these sites carefully. And social listening makes this possible without always relying on Google or manually searching every site you know.
Hopefully it’s clear now that social listening brings you a huge variety of powerful consumer data. This can be used to draw insights and make informed business decisions.
If you’re ready to get started, here’s how to proceed:
Sounds good? Let’s talk. We’re here to help you make smarter business decisions today:
Head of Content