Recently, our DigitalPulse team attended the Netbase Live 2018 conference in New York. We participate in events like this as part of our ongoing commitment to our clients to stay on the leading edge in the field of digital listening and intelligence. The event saw a diverse mix of experts take the stage ranging from researchers at Carnegie Melon to senior-level marketers from ESPN. Overall, the depth and insights of many of the Master-level courses offered were beneficial to teams like ours who use digital listening as a means of delivering mature guidance for the enterprise organization.
In one session, Melissa Waters (VP of Marketing, Lyft) was quoted as saying, “World-class creative is table stakes. I need a strategic partner who is embedded in our business everyday helping us with product decisions and helping us with the way we design our service experience—not just making ads.” It was all I could do to refrain from standing on the linen-draped conference table where I was seated and scream, “Exactly!”
The depth of insight that digital listening can deliver is immense. And in the hands of the expert, those insights can be translated into actionable intelligence that can actually influence true business development. With that in mind, the question each product marketer has to ask themselves is, “How mature is our listening intelligence?” In the same session where Waters was quoted the following maturity model was presented:
Using this visual as a guidance, I’d like to offer three key steps to ensuring that the market intelligence you are building or receiving is leaning towards the “Productive” or “Operational” side of the model.
1. Look for continuity, not uniqueness
Most people assume that social or digital listening is about looking for spikes, or finding that “one nugget of insight” that will really wow their respective audience. But as companies build towards a more mature model of intelligence, they actually reverse that paradigm and begin looking for continuity of findings as opposed to one-off flashes. This doesn’t mean looking for the SAME finding, but simply themes or topics that are similar or related, and noting their regularity of occurrence over a prolonged period of time. The best companies develop a scoring rubric that notes prolonged insight strength, typically including inputs like the number of mentions per month, the level of engagement per month, or simply the occurrence of the insight.
2. Bracket insights to larger business objectives or opportunities
While scoring these findings for continuity, bracket them into larger themes representing new opportunities or existing business goals. By doing this, important themes emerge from a pile of disconnected nuggets that, in and of themselves, might be considered inconsequential. The clustering exercise can borrow the scoring rubric developed in the previous step to cumulatively determine the most important themes to pursue—specifically which represent potentially high ROI opportunities.
3. Strive to proactively influence what you’re monitoring as opposed to reactively reporting on it
Once strategic themes have been defined, consider the impact on messaging, channels of marketing and target audiences. At this stage of the maturity model, social listening is no longer a discovery step, but extends into an analytic and measurement model that monitors the progress toward strategic goals.
In summary, as more and more companies mature their digital engagement with their buyers, listening models have to keep up to ensure that what is being learned can be converted into tangible guidance and revenue drivers. Disappearing are the days when companies can simply report on reach, engagement and sentiment. Instead, the data and insights that are gleaned must also be translated into strategic intelligence—and then turning around and monitoring progress towards those strategic goals. Taking the necessary steps to mature your model will make all the difference.