Social Listening for Audience-Led Account Planning

TL;DR: Integrating the consumers’ wants and expectations into your planning will help to differentiate your brand from the competition and uncover opportunities for impact.

Social media has put marketers in the unique place to truly deliver what their audiences want. However, with all the available data, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are four steps to set you up for success when creating audience-led account plans:

Step 1: Audience Design

Focus on interest rather than circumstance. It’s what people do that matters. Then add additional context and dimensions with behavioral data.

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Focusing on interest for a travel and tourism brand means understanding travel goals and motivations. Are travelers vacationing to escape their daily routine or seeking adventure with an adrenaline rush?

The motivations for an apparel brand are different — for them it is understanding the expectations the consumer has for clothing in their life. What is its job? Are they seeking ease and function or do they want to design their own wardrobe to demonstrate their personal style? For an industry and then any brand the motivations are many, but the approach is the same: Start by understanding the audience's emotional motivators. Then focus on those where the product and experience can deliver.

As for a beverage company, define the motivation through the occasion. Why are your consumers drinking? Is it a ritual or a special event?

Finally, segment your audience based upon their interests and goals rather than starting with geography and demographics.

Step 2: Competitive Assessment

Analyze the competitive landscape to uncover opportunities for differentiation.

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Identify the other brands competing for your audience’s attention, time and spend. Start with your industry and then look outside of it to obtain a full view of the demands on your audience. What are others asking and delivering?

Start with how your competitors present themselves in social media on their own channels. Then compare their owned social media with how the audience perceives and engages through hashtags, brand mentions, sentiment, keyword analysis and reviews.

This analysis, when led by the motivations of your audience will reveal strategies and tactics to break free from the competitive clutter while also providing value to your customer.

Step 3: Unique Selling Proposition Definition

Eliminate the habit of trying to be everything to everyone.

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Identify the product, experiences and attributes currently resonating with your audience based on the content they share on social media. Align the audience motivations with your brand values to find the space where your consumer will be satisfied and your brand can over-deliver on its promises.

This is the time to be honest about strengths and weaknesses as well as the future versus the present. Where a brand is today might not be where it is in three years, but in the instant gratification world of social media, being present is critical.

Step 4: Opportunity Evaluation

Follow the intended audience and their motivations to uncover strategic and creative opportunities.

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At this point you have a full picture of your audience, your competition and your brand. Analyze your audience's day to find placement opportunities that are authentic to your brand while and away from the competition.

For a destination seeking to connect with an audience looking to escape their routine, it could mean intersecting them in key moments of the daily grind, for example dinner prep. If the destination has a strong culinary product it could look to partner with a meal delivery service for a branded box. Suddenly your brand is in your audience's home on a Tuesday evening.

Find and understand rituals in order to add value and build affinity. The key here is to surprise and delight the audience with experiences and messaging core to the brand. From there, optimize based upon audience reactions and actions.

One area we've seen an industry giving the audience what they want is in sports. Check out our blog post about how social media continues to disrupt the landscape for professional sports fans.