Social Media Listening: “Brands must better listen to their consumers”

What is the status of Social media listening? What standard business practices do we witness in the field? Has Social media listening evolved over the years? I wanted to understand how Social media listening was developing and I interviewed Digimind‘s Aurelien Blaha. Aurelien covered the different periods of Social media listening. A particularly broad overview since the Grenoble-based company – now present throughout the World – commemorated its 20th-anniversary last year. To sum everything up in a few words: Social media listening is good, but brands must better listen to their customers. Here is a summary of my interview with Aurelien.

First era: before Social media listening: 1998*-2008

At the time, we were not talking about the social Web; it was the early era of the Web. Shortly after its creation by Tim Berners Lee. The challenge of this period, for businesses, was to find relevant information in a data desert, a world of silence, in fact, and this lasted about a decade.

Veille Internet
To take full advantage of Social media listening, you must learn to remain open to your customers’ requests and opinions. A more challenging exercise than it seems for many businesses

* date of creation of Digimind in Grenoble

The second era (2008 2018): find the diamond in the virgin forest

On the contrary, the second era of social media listening is known for its surfeit of information. In the middle of the first decade, a whole bunch of companies were founded: Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2006, and so on. The 2008-2018 period, therefore, spurred a plethora of information. However, the previous day’s mission remained the same, namely, to find relevant information.

This period was the golden age of social media listening: it was a bit like trying to find a diamond in a coal mine.

2018-2028: A new era for Social media listening

2018 has sounded the bell for a brand-new period, the third, for the current decade. We are now entering a pivotal new era of Web monitoring. As a result of abuses such as that of Cambridge Analytica, social media fatigue has cropped up. The arrival of the GDPR has also set some barriers with regard to the use of private data by businesses.

But if this fatigue is real in Europe, the situation is very different for the rest of the World. When you look at the top 10 countries that use Facebook, there is the United States, but the other nine are Latin American, Asian or African countries.

Artificial intelligence and Social media listening

It’s a bit of a staple; Artificial intelligence is going to play a significant role in this new era of social media listening. These are technologies that will allow us to manage an information flow that will continue to grow despite all the current issues.

Above all, they will have to handle these data flows in a much better way according to the real expectations of B2B or B2C customers.

As no business can devote thousands of marketers to manage personalised marketing campaigns, the only way to overcome this problem is to effectively use artificial intelligence, to customise messages according to expectations.

Better listening to consumers and learning from them with Social media listening

What do companies learn from what they listen to? We can hear very well what consumers are saying about our products or competitors or market trends, and then that’s where it ends. The real question is, what should we do with these insights!

This is really the heart of the matter, and from that point of view, today’s businesses are still grappling with those tools. They are still working on the basis of what they imagine about the consumer’s wishes and not necessarily the latter’s actual perceptions.

Sources of intelligence that can help companies

The social and conversational part of the Web makes it possible to capture customer expressions that leave their mark on social media, but in addition to that, there are other sources.

There are, in particular, all the more traditional sources that are not in the field of social media such as news, blogs and forums. Whether from public sources or even private databases with paid access. We also have partners covering Dark Web and Deep Web on more critical topics. It is this set of sources that makes really complete monitoring.

Dark Web focus

There is a whole range of applications around the Dark Web that are interesting. Especially in the B2C area when it comes to counterfeiting. When we talk about this subject, we immediately think of luxury products, but forgery can be related to drugs, for example.

We also touch on sensitive subjects in the field of banking and insurance and the dismantling of fraudulent networks.

From the beginning, not always the best happens on the Web

Since the beginning of the Web, we’ve seen very good and not so good things, side by side. I think that this is due to human nature. We have to live with it and just try to focus on the good things that the Web has to offer. The Web still has potential and the uses it will spur in the next decade are still largely unknown or underestimated.

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Yann Gourvennec

CEO & Founder at Visionary Marketing
Yann has a long-standing experience in marketing, information systems and Web marketing. He created visionarymarketing.com in 1996 and since then, he has practiced Web strategy, e-business and Web communications in the field. He was a member of socialmedia.org from 2008 till 2013. He is a lecturer, a keynote speaker, an author and blogger. In early 2014, he went from intrapreneur to entrepreneur when he founded his digital marketing agency Visionary Marketing.
Yann Gourvennec
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