Online Reviews Supercharge Social Listening

Online Reviews Supercharge Social Listening

If your company pays for Big Data social listening you probably know the word “actionable” has become something of a cliché: The torrent of data from social too often is actionable in name only.

How many times have you asked yourself (or worse, on how many occasions has a company higher-up inquired) “When will this pricey social-data firehose give us something we can act on?”


If this sounds like one of your problems, I have two words for you: online reviews.

But first, stop and consider why stand-alone social data scraping may not be enough.

To be fair, asking most social listening platforms to deliver powerful prescriptive brand breakthroughs is unreasonable. That’s because social is, by and large, focused on something terribly personal: the subject posting. It’s generally about them. The Facebook talks mostly to friends. They’re looking for likes, thumbs up. Yes, they occasionally post a tidbit about products. But they don’t really review them. At best, what you get from most insights companies is comparable to a mini digital focus group opinion: low-watt general brand sentiments. They either love you and your products or hate you/them. Those kinds of emotional snippets only reveal an advocate or a vocal detractor.

What can Marketing or Product Development do with that?

On Twitter, people don’t have room to reveal in-depth insights about what’s right or wrong with products or services, or compare them to competitors. The subject’s looking for re-Tweets. (And, on Pinterest, pins.)

Then there’s the tonnage. We Are Social estimates there are nearly 3 billion social media users. So, is it any wonder brands drown in social data? To properly sift that stuff, you usually need a staff just to pour through verbatims, struggling to pull the odd actionable pieces to find a cookie, if it’s there.

It is possible for an insights provider to give you deeper insights by pulling social comments, but then they have to really be on the ball in their filtering. That requires “educating” the bots pulling the data in a deep lexicon of the kinds of brand-, category-  and product-specific words to get just the right data, and then filtering out all the non-relevant chaff. That’s asking too much of most social-focused Big Data providers.

My thesis is simple: social listening, in most cases, is only half the story. To supercharge social’s general-sentiment-revealing tactics you need to add the mighty power of online review listening and analysis.

Real gold nuggets are scattered throughout the almost always extremely brand-and-product-level-specifics of an online review. If you listen to what’s being said, the customers who’ve already made a purchase cut straight to the chase. They reveal strong opinions that tell you what kind of strategic decisions you should be making to improve your ways of designing and making products, and of doing business, at a finite, product level. That is truly precious.

The kinds of business verticals for which online-review listening are essential are broad, including:

  • Consumer Package Goods (CPG)
  • Fast Moving Consumer Durable (FMCD)
  • Retail

Travel-related (Hotels, Airlines, Municipalities, etc.)

Key platforms that have the most influential reviews include some of the best-and-brightest online. (It’s also helpful to tune into powerfully influencer-based sites for backstopping).

Of course, as noted, you need a provider who excels at filtering out the mountains of noise, focusing on true brand- and product-level-related opinion data. And make sure they show you verbatim, prescriptive comments (not just indicative-of-something star ratings). But if you do, the flow of conversations that wash ashore will bear revelations that help you improve your offerings, identifying:

  • Where you’re weak, and what you should do to improve products/services
  • Where you’re your strongest (what’s working, which you should promote)
  • Where you competitors are weak and strong
  • Where the market gaps are, or new territories needed
  • Who the up-and-coming disrupters are, and what they are doing right

We have seen firsthand the magic of backstopping social listening with proper, brand-and-product-attribute-centric filtering of online-reviews.  It turns the non-actionable, half-a-picture of social-listening data into a colorful, clear map for decision making.

Tune-in to the consumers who voted with their wallet, and took the time to review your products and services, feature-by-feature. Those are the people who will tell you what you are doing properly and what you should be doing to win more often in the marketplace.

Start listening with both ears, and supercharge your brand.


Contact a BrandVO2 representative to discuss how to start listening with both ears.
Email direct for more information.



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