To get an idea of what new and creative ways social data is used in the agency world, we interviewed Jeff Melton. He's the Executive Managing Director at RF|Binder, in charge of insights, planning and analytics.
RF|Binder is a full-service, independent communications consultancy with offices across the US. Among its many services, uncovering data-driven insights on what motivates their clients’ target audiences is a key way the company sets itself apart.
As a long-time Brandwatch power user, we were thrilled to secure an in-depth interview with Jeff in which we discussed six of the most innovative ways he and his colleagues use social data to generate incredible insights for their clients.
"Brandwatch is whatever you want it to be. If I want to use Brandwatch to inform B2B content, to look at how people are finding the customer experience or to optimize traditional media, I can. It’s an analyst’s tool and it’s flexible. If you look at Brandwatch as unstructured social media data, it opens up the possibilities.”
Without further ado, let’s dive into the use cases that get RF|Binder excited. Get ready to be inspired.
1. Helping clients launch new products
One of the use cases Jeff is most excited to share with us is a project RF|Binder is working on with a client in the food industry. The client has created a product that offers a new take on almond butter, chocolate hazelnut spread and jam, involving single-use tubes that allow for the precise, clean distribution of delicious condiments onto your favorite accompanying snacks.
Brandwatch is being employed at every stage of the development of the product’s go-to-market plan, from positioning to packaging. By listening to conversations around competitor products, RF|Binder is able to provide their client with insights that will inform a successful launch plan.
“To me, focus groups are helpful but I always love social listening because there's not as much bias. I love that saying that it's the “largest untapped focus group” for that reason - people are being pretty damn honest."
One way social listening is particularly helpful for this project is the segmentation of the customer journey.
2. Segmenting the customer journey
Jeff shares with us the agency’s approach to segmenting and visualizing the customer journey within all kinds of different industries. “If you’re looking at the funnel, from awareness to consideration to research to purchase and then to loyalty and advocacy, what we’ve started to do is score the conversations into where they’re most often generated within the path to purchase,” he says.
Here’s an example where RF|Binder have used social listening to map out the customer journey when it comes to cars, in which conversation is analyzed and segmented to reveal pain points and opportunities.
It’s a model RF|Binder have already applied to the product launch project discussed above.
Jeff explained: “What was fascinating about looking at these food-based products is that the vast majority of the conversation was spun up at the point of purchase and then a little bit with loyalty and a lot with advocacy, so that was really interesting for us to know that people are not using social media as much during the consideration or research phase. They may be using other tools like search.
“The way these competitor products live in social media is really toward the bottom of the funnel, toward advocacy. So strategically, what does that mean for us launching a new product? Well we better make sure we’re setting up these mechanisms and these tactics that are encouraging people to share their surprise and their delight with this new product, even incentivizing them to do so.”
3. Finding micro-influencers
With clients in the education and financial sectors, identifying influencers in niche fields is a key part of the RF|Binder toolset, and Brandwatch is able to help them find influential voices in all kinds of spaces.
"We build out the queries, we add some of the operators that help us get to those with a higher following or a higher engagement rate, and we often add in the location operators. I think this method provides a broad breadth of influencers based on what they’re saying and not just a static database."
Finding those influencers is just the first step. The team uses Brandwatch to check out historical mentions and stories from those influencers to check that they don’t clash with their clients’ values. These searches can help ward off potential brand safety threats further down the line.
4. Cross referencing social data with traditional media data
Jeff says that he’s experiencing more and more emphasis on tracking the social shares around a campaign alongside the number of traditional media hits within monitoring tools.
“We’re often cross-referencing the social listening data with traditional media data because it’s really interesting for us to look at those two dynamics when seeing both sides of that story,” he says.
This use case involves asking two questions around a campaign:
- Did journalists care?
- Did regular people care?
“When both journalists and people care you know you’ve nailed the zeitgeist, which is rare. More often than not neither or only one of the groups cares,” Jeff explains.
One way that RF|Binder visualizes this is with a quadrant graphic that shows “the full earned media spectrum.”
High media coverage and high social shares of positive stories are ideally where you want your brand to be sitting.
In the above example from an RF|Binder pitch, the firm uses LexisNexis data alongside Brandwatch data to visualize how brands within a specific sector do on social and in the media.
RF|Binder is also able to use Brandwatch to understand if the shares of those stories were from individuals with influence, which allows the agency to identify future media and influencer targets.
5. Analyzing the voice of the employee
Employees are often a company’s most valuable advocates, and measuring this phenomenon is something that RF|Binder has been honing.
Jeff says: “Large organizations are investing more and more in internal communications and employee advocacy programs. What we’re also beginning to do for some of our clients is listen to what employees are saying about their company relative to competitors. It can be fascinating to then uncover the conversation drivers from employees from one company to another.”
The following shows the share of voice around different brands RF|Binder analyzed as well as the percentage of employees who are acting as advocates. The companies with the strongest amount of conversation also have the highest percentage of employees that take part in online advocacy.
From a competitive intelligence point of view, noticing that your competitors are far more effective at encouraging, and perhaps incentivizing their employees to share stories about their company, could be the start of a new initiative.
6. Brainstorming sessions and content ideation
“An under-utilized area of social listening is when you go into a brainstorm and you need ideas,” Jeff says, adding that this can go beyond standard research to help inform creative ideas.
Instead of charts and tables, if analysts can bring examples of visual material and verbatim snippets sourced from social listening to the brainstorming table, these can be hugely inspirational.
"If the analyst pulls a bunch of Instagram posts to show the way that people are bringing this to life, it’s something that can be incredibly helpful and you can move quicker. You can use that same data and package it differently to help them come up with really interesting ideas.”
When it comes to content like white papers, social listening offers an efficient alternative to other methods of coming up with ideas.
“When thinking about content topics for B2B marketing – and more specifically for inbound marketing – social media listening can be an efficient way to understand what the business community is talking about and use that to meet the interest and demand,” says Jeff.
Using social listening to inform content ideas, from audience targeting to the visuals and copy itself, offers a faster, cheaper way for B2B companies to create content that’s informed by relevant data than traditional processes like surveys.
Many thanks to Jeff Melton from RF|Binder for taking us through these use cases.