Run a social media listening program — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Kristen Platt of Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

10:15 —'s Jeff Casale introduces Symantec Corporation's Erling Amundson.

10:16 — Erling: I imagine that you've been asked at your company, “What is the secret formula for social insights?” I've been leading social listening at Symantec for several years, and I have a formula for you: SI = 5W*(C+D)+V+A (you'll actually find that this makes sense by the end of the presentation. But really there is no good formula).

10:17 — Erling: We'll talk about the steps to creating a social media listening program. First, ask yourself: “Why are doing social media listening?”

10:19 — Erling: Decide what your goal is the goal for social listening:

  • Brand Insights/Brand Health
  • Risk Identification/PR
  • Customer Experience Improvement
  • Voice of the Customer
  • Develop Better Customer Personas
  • Influencer Identification
  • Customer Service Engagement
  • Improved Sales
  • Competitor Insights
  • Industry Trends

10:20 — Erling: Then ask yourself, “who are you doing social media for?” Who will receive these insights? Make the outputs of your listening strategy inputs into other areas of your organizing. What metrics align with the “why” and the “who?” Look at metrics that will help you deliver the business goal: followers and follower growth, engagement rate, etc.

10:21 — Erling: Then ask yourself: “Where should I listen?” What about the other channels that are not social? You should be thinking about your website, offline stores, etc. People are still talking there, even though it may not be on social media.

10:23 — Next question: What will you do with your findings? Who will engage and in what situations? What is the best method to deliver insights for your organization? It could be metrics dashboards, command centers, insights email, or powerpoint reports. You need to think through your data and deliver it in a way that others gain insights from it. It's not always just showing someone a dashboard, you must also analyze it and report on it based on your business objectives.

10:25 — After you answer those questions, you can dive in and begin the tactical part of building your listening program. Select your tool(s), review your listening, analysis, and reporting goals. Select the tool that is best aligned with your strategy. Note: you may need more than one tool.

In your initial listening, case a broad net and identify what's out there. Brainstorm with your team — especially tap any writers or SEO specialists. Look at your website, do Google searches, etc.

10:26 — Erling: Narrow that initial listening down: Take samples, analyze, and adjust. What are the conversations like? How much volume exists? Get rid of all the noise and adjust your tools/classifications to only grab the useful conversations that are happening.

Test and tune your keywords. Most of your setup time will be here. Don't be afraid to restart as needed. Ongoing tuning will be needed, because the conversations are always changing. This will be a trial and error process — watch your data limits, and make fast adjustments.

10:28 — Staffing: How can you get critical business insights in time to act? Are you 24×7? How will you cover holidays and vacations? Start with 1-2 listening employees but expect to grow depending on volume and coverage needs. Consider volunteers who get social media experience in exchange for providing some listening coverage.

10:30 — Deliver valuable social media insights. Validate your business impact: PR issues, product improvements, revenue, etc. How much was this listening program worth? If it wasn't worth it, you'll need to go back to the beginning and adjust. This is a continuous cycle; and you'll always be tweaking the program.


Q: Experience with finding the right tools and how to navigate that?

A: Sure, ride off the coattails of another team. We found our IT team was already using a listening tool that we use now too. You also need additional tools for getting what you need, but try and test out the tools for free first before you make any commitments.

Q: How to measure sentiment correctly?

A: The tools are not good at sentiment, I hate to break it to you. We have to measure sentiment manually. We hand-analyze every mention we include in our reports. Because of language, sarcasm, etc. the automatic tools can't measure sentiment correctly.

Q: What are you partnerships like with marketing research teams?

A: We've partnered with almost all the other departments, and some relationships are better than others. Marketing Research helps provide the real-time voice of the customer and gives the best picture of what the customer's life is like in that exact moment.

Q: How often are you sharing your results with the entire company?

A: We don't have a command center, so we can't really show it that way. We do share different kinds of insights everyday to the appropriate teams. Every morning we're sending an email about trending topics, campaigns gets monthly updates, and marketing gets weekly updates about what's going on in social.

Q: Examples of small wins that have induced change in your company?

A: The real-time content we're doing is a big win for us. Having relevant and timely content based on what people are talking about RIGHT NOW increases our engagement rates.