Compete more Intentionally in your Industry using Social Listening

Actively using social listening allows your business to gain insights about trends, topics and influencers that will help you connect with your customers. You will have access to a large amount of information— but the important part is how you use it. Listening to what your customers are saying in real-time is an important piece of the puzzle, but alone it does not provide enough data to inform your strategy. An essential part of forming your brand strategy and maintaining customers is analyzing the successes and failures of your competitors’ actions. You need to understand the entirety of the industry landscape, not just your piece of it, to continuously keep your customers satisfied and your brand strategy up-to-date.


With social listening you can analyze the sentiment of tweets about your brands, the number of mentions you receive, keywords being mentioned alongside your brands, and the responses to specific events.

1) Analyzing Sentiment Over Time

Improving the social customer experience your brand provides will eventually improve the sentiment around your brand. It’s important to track this progress so you’re aware of your brand’s baseline sentiment and will notice when something is amiss. Monitoring the changes in sentiment after a new campaign can help you identify the right topics and tone that resonate with your audience. 


Additionally, analyzing at your competitor’s baseline and monitoring any changes can also provide you with insights to inform your own strategy. With a deeper look into what caused the change, you can learn what works (or doesn’t work!) with the customers in your industry. 

2) Comparing Share of Voice

Awareness of your share of voice in the market can help you set goals and measure your success more accurately. As with any other metric, knowing your baseline is essential so you can analyze the cause of any changes. A sudden change in the volume of mentions your brand receives could be an early indicator that an issue or crisis is on the way. Knowing the volume of mentions, either direct or indirect, that you and your competitors receive allows you to measure comparative brand awareness. This knowledge can also demonstrate when your competitors are successful and when they are struggling with a crisis. Comprehensive analysis of the industry landscape shows you where you stand versus your competitors and what you can do about it. 


Comparing the sentiment and share of direct mentions for retail giants Target and Walmart, it appears that Walmart is mentioned more frequently, but has a much higher percentage of negative mentions. 


What could account for this disparity in sentiment? Visiting their profiles, it appears that Target’s personality and friendly tone may be winning over customers compared to Walmart’s more straight-forward approach.



The Target account engages with primarily positive tweets from its main account while acknowledging customer complaints from a dedicated help account, @AskTarget. The high level of responsiveness with positive tweets may encourage users to engage with them positively. Walmart also has a separate customer service account, @WalmartHelp, but engages with criticisms from the @Walmart account as well. 


Although the type of responses may be just a piece of the puzzle, even a quick look can start to show us key differences between the two brands’ strategies.

3) Analyzing Keywords and Phrases

Analyzing the words and phrases that frequently appear in discussion surrounding your industry will help you determine trends, so you can get ahead of competitors. With specific segments that can be applied to monitors and dashboards, you can target specific feelings, topics, products or brands associated with your own. Comparing keywords that appear with your brand to those that are used frequently with your competitors gives you insight into differences in public perception. Listening to the problems and negative words associated with your competitors gives you the opportunity to solve those problems preemptively, before they do. Listening to keywords associated with your industry can show you what customers in your market want— are you providing it?


Looking at the word clouds of trending keywords for both companies, we can see that customers are concerned with the companies responses to Coronavirus, with trending keywords like “covid19” and “health” for Target, and “Coronavirus” and “risk” for Walmart. 


Both companies had the term “masks” appear in their word cloud. Although both received a mixture of praise and criticism from users in different locations, Target primarily received praise for donating masks to healthcare workers, while Walmart primarily received criticism for not doing the same.



4) Analyzing Event or Time-Specific Data Sets

Social listening helps you monitor customer responses to new policies, controversies, events, etc. Analyzing the audience response to your response to current events (like the COVID-19 pandemic) will help you determine how effective your strategy has been and what changes need to be made. 


Looking at the bubble graph of tweets about Walmart from the last few days, we can see that one negative post appears larger than the rest.


Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders criticized Walmart this week, which could account for some of the increased negative sentiment of tweets mentioning Walmart as users continue to share and engage with his post. Walmart could use this information to either respond to Sanders’ tweet or make a statement specifically addressing his concerns (potentially making it their pinned tweet to redirect the increased attention their social page is receiving from his tweet to the response) in order to reduce the negative spotlight on their social channels.


Although there are likely many other factors influencing the sentiments towards large corporations like Target and Walmart, analyzing the mentions and actions of these competitor brands highlights some of the differences in their strategies and circumstances. 


Continuously analyzing social data about you and your competitors is essential to measuring your campaign, product or brand management performance and informing tomorrow’s strategy. Real-time data and precise analysis tools will help you take the best steps forward in every situation.


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