How to unearth social media insights in your data and what to do next

In 2005, hedge fund manager Michael Burry was sat in his New York office staring at a multitude of data relating to high-risk subprime loans. Combining the datasets and his well trained eye, the information was telling him one thing: the United States housing market was becoming very unstable. To cut a very long financial tale short, he bet against market-based mortgage-backed securities and made $2.69 million based on a trend he saw in the data.

Identifying data trends and reacting to them in a timely, relevant, effective manner before your competition is a surefire way to improve customer engagement. Primary research or market research are no longer the only ways to know your market; social media insights through listening help you to see what’s happening right now, in real time. You can unearth the interests and intentions of your audience, their concerns and motivations.

Data Analysis

The benefits of social media insights using listening

As you’re able to collect unprompted customer comments, you can listen to specific industry or category-relevant conversations and then analyse to see if new, unknown topics are coming up. The insight can be used across your business – by product development teams, marketing and communications teams, brand teams – it all depends on the angle taken when starting the research.

Here’s how social media insights you can gain a competitive edge:

  1. Content: Insights can inform your content strategy and help you be relevant. At its heart, all good content marketing is about identifying the pain points of your existing and potential customers, and creating content to show how your business can address them. Social media analysis allows you to see what those prospects are discussing – perhaps it’s that they don’t understand how pensions work, or what a staging date is – which in turn lets you produce timely, problem solving content that hits the right notes and distinguishes you from the competition.
  2. Differentiate: If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, detailed analysis of your data will create communication opportunities that you probably weren’t aware existed before social insights. Producing content on emerging trends or topics will position your brand not only as a thought leader, but as a business that understands and has its fingers on the pulse. The early bird catches the worm is an essential mantra here; if your competitors do follow suit, they’re just confounding the assertion that you stole a march on them with something relevant and innovative.
  3. Brand Awareness: Social media insights play a vital role in how effectively your messaging is engaging your audience. For customers to recall your brand, your brand messaging needs to be impactful and subverse the status quo. Find out what’s relevant right now, in real time and act swiftly to deliver content at the peak of discussion. Your engagement levels and brand awareness will see a vast improvement compared to outdated, lagged content production methods. Acting instantaneously just before the height of an emerging trend, for example, puts your brand at the top of the conversation.

How does listening help you find social media insights

Insight analysis is live research using user-generated content. Before you go anywhere with your analysis, though, you should define your goals. What is it you’re actually looking to find? It could be a macro trend, specific audience behaviours, feedback, negative sentiment. Whatever it is, honing in on specifics will save you from trawling through masses of data

These social media listening features help you identify insights at the click of a button:

Clusters in Radarly

  • Clusters (read more here) show you the most viral topics and those with the biggest audience, all in real-time. See the number of posts generated, the number of people reached, and how the posts are changing over time. Platforms like Radarly don’t just rely on exact matches; fuzzy matching enables automatic recognition of statements that can be grouped together even if they’re not identical. The result is a comprehensive view of a topic, allowing brands to measure and compare “buzz” rather than just listening to it.
  • Changes in sentiment give insight into the emotion of your audience – did your campaign impact the way people feel about your brand? – as well as changes in the language being used.
  • Social media listening for insight identification can also show you who’s driving the conversation, including any emerging new influencers who are gaining traction. Perhaps there’s a trend towards sharing images of a certain style or featuring a certain subject? That will show up in your analysis, too.

Creating a movement

Remember a few summers ago when everyone filmed themselves being doused in icy cold water? The Ice Bucket Challenge can be attributed to the ALS Association (Motor Neurone Disease Association in the UK) recognising an emerging trend with social media insights – people recording themselves doing ridiculous things like eating a spoonful of cinnamon – and creating a campaign (soon, trend) that would further their own message. They raised US$115 million in the summer of 2014 alone from people dousing themselves in icy water and inviting others to either do the same or donate to ALS.

ALS knew that when finding actionable social media insights, you should look out for:

  • Sudden changes in the volume of mentions
  • Topics related to your search
  • Changes in sentiment
  • The specific language used in conversation – for example, between similar products from you and your competitor
  • Seasonal trends

When a brand knows what trends are affecting their industry, driving consumer behaviour, they gain the upper hand. The difficult part is knowing how to find these insights, and identifying them in a timely manner – cutting through all the noise to reach the right conclusions at the right time.

Using social media insights to identify trends and topics can help to improve conversions and maximise your returns from social media marketing. Discover changes in how people buy products, what the next big fad is and how lifestyles are changing to give you valuable insights that can be used across the business and inform future product or service developments.

It could be you, sitting there looking at the data, that identifies the next big trend. Let’s just hope it’s a bit more positive than what Michael Burry saw over a decade ago…

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