Hopefully when listening on Social Media, you may know what you want to get out of it and have all the data needed, but without clear instructions on how to interpret and analyse the data you will be looking for a shining light to guide you.

Social media listening tools, services, and dashboards that help us count brand mentions, generate new followers, and build new “likes” attempt to measure our social media investments are gaining popularity, but what do these numbers really mean? What insights are they designed to provide? How effective are social media dashboards in helping us drive sales or create advocates?

The top five questions that marketers want to answer through social research are:

  • What are my competitors doing and how do I compare?
  • Where are people saying about my brand and are they asking for change?
  • Should I change my messaging?
  • How do they feel about us vs. the competition?
  • Quantify the biggest brand topics.

Everyone—in every country and culture—is directed by a similar set of needs, desires for such opportunities as accomplishment, adventure, connectedness, creativity, play, wisdom, transformation, and/or other motivations. By listening to the conversations of consumers across social networks, we can detect what motivates them about a particular category of products or services.

Marketers seek answers to their questions to help shape their communications strategies, and they are discovering that dashboards are inefficient. Dashboards do offer a huge amount of data; however, they leave marketers without the blueprints to build meaningful, actionable insights.

The key to finding the answers is to do more than just ask, “What are people saying about my brand?” You also need to take the time to first create a blueprint with the questions you really need to ask followed by a strategy on how, when and what channel you are going to use to respond. Using tools such as a competitive analysis of your top 5 competitors and what they are doing with social media will assist in positioning yourself to plan a strategy that quickly exceeds what your competitors are doing and addresses what your clients are asking or saying about you.