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Beyond The Noise: Be Informed By Social Context To Build A Better Brand

As thousands of followers—and potential customers—discuss your brand on social media every minute, it’s critical to know what is being said and quickly sort through the tweets and posts to find those most relevant and impactful. So, how do you decide what’s noise and what messages are worth your brand’s engagement?

It’s critical for a brand to quickly understand the context of the posts in which they’re mentioned. A trash-talking tweet is less important when it comes from a non-notable account with few followers, but a tweet from Oprah can make or break a brand for good.

When marketers use a critical eye to evaluate their social media interactions and quickly understand their context, I see them benefit in three ways:

Better Understanding of Your Audience

In the past, marketers spent thousands of dollars on consumer surveys and focus groups to get inside a buyer’s head. It was an expensive and time-consuming process that lacked the fluidity to respond to real-time events.

Thankfully, social media has changed the game. Past, present and future customers are online talking about your brand, and you have their unfiltered opinion and other personal details at your fingertips. It’s a valuable source of market research that can be assessed instantly to track the immediate effects of your campaigns in conjunction with the impact of your competitor’s efforts. 

Through social media content, I can find niche communities or demographic segments around a brand and determine what messages resonate most effectively with them. I can also identify influencers in these groups. It’s suddenly easy to see who pays attention to your messages and what they say in response.

Once I understand who leads my brand’s conversation, I can learn what makes them tick and to what prompts they respond. Just like in any other relationship, a quality conversation between a brand and its customers happens when each side is willing to listen and engage.

Efficiently Find the Content That Matters

Though social media is a gold mine for consumer feedback, it comes with a unique set of challenges. Unlike in a small focus group, conversation and opinions are free from the control of your marketing department. So when someone decides to trash your brand on Twitter, it’s hard to pick the appropriate reaction. A mad customer tweet could involve the resources of marketing, public relations and customer service departments when isolated, but with context its threat can be minimized.

Examine these frustrated customers in their personal context. Who are they and what are their goals? I take into account their number of followers as well as their previous tweets and audience quality. Do they only complain or do they actually engage in conversation? The Weather Channel uses this strategy to incorporate tweets in live broadcasts. The broadcast team looks for users who frequently tweet about the weather and filter by location and time to make the broadcast more relevant and informative for viewers.

Be Informed About Your Brand in the Real World

Marketers live to create a product’s story before its launch. But, once a product is released to the masses, brands may be dismayed to find that little attention has been paid to their carefully crafted narrative.

Consumers tend to take products and adapt them to their existing lifestyles. An example of this is the classic Adidas three-stripe sneaker and its overwhelming popularity in the hip-hop community. Originally designed to be a sports sneaker, the shoe was a favorite of hip-hop group Run-DMC and shot to notoriety beyond athletic circles when the group released the single “My Adidas” in 1986. Luckily, an Adidas employee at a Run-DMC concert recognized the shoe’s following, and Run-DMC swiftly became history’s first hip-hop group to receive million-dollar endorsement deal.

In the case of Adidas, their athletic shoe took on an entirely different meaning to its fans and Adidas caught on quickly. Today, social media makes it even easier to be aware of these types of adaptations and integrate new narratives into the brand message. I like to see what news and ideas spark conversation around a brand—it’s a chance for me to view a brand in a customer’s day-to-day life. From here, marketers can incorporate this knowledge into future branding and development so that a product can remain relevant for years to come.

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