Listening to the web

“Let’s go on with our visit at Central Marketing Intelligence headquarter!”

Agent 007 exclaims, inviting you to follow her.

“We are lucky, Agent XX is about to start a lesson with the recruits. Today’s topic is social listening. Let’s go and attend the class!”

In the meeting room, Agent XX is writing on the blackboard while the future agents take their seats.


“Welcome!” Agent XX introduces, “Today I’ll talk about one of the most important activities for the CMI: web and social listening.”


Why is it the most important, you are surely wondering. Because the Web has completely transformed the relationship between companies, their customers and all the intermediaries, i.e. the media and the influential people who condition consumer choices.


Everything has become more immediate: in the past, to know consumers’ opinion about a product, the only way was to ask it directly to them through interviews, surveys and focus groups.


All very expensive activities, that gave results very later in time, even months after when the information was needed! Today, however, we can intercept in real time what people think and share spontaneously on the Web.

Companies just need to keep their ears out: on the Internet everyone speaks, from their customers, to their competitors, to influential people and the media.


Try to think about how much time you spend on social networks, how many social posts you write and even how many posts and blog articles you read. Even if you are not such an avid social media consumer, I think you will agree with me that nowadays people talk, and even a lot, on social media and on the web in general. Do you agree? ” Agent XX asks to the class.

Yes, on the Internet now you can write and comment about everything!” says a guy in the front row.


“And unfortunately, this is not always a good thing… but that’s another story,” Agent XX adds a little disheartened, thinking of all the hoaxes and fake news shared online and of all the misinformation created by this new form of communication.


“However, ignoring the side effects, there is no doubt that on the Internet you can find anything:

“Intercepting information from the Web opens companies’ eyes on their customers and their market. Ignoring them, on the contrary, it’s a risk they can no longer run.
Agent XX
from an hotel review

to an opinion on any product or service

to what people think on any trend

to never ending feedback on marketing campaigns

to what people think on the last TV commercial

or even if they like the music in your stores!

Hence, on the Web people feel authorized to say anything and to talk, talk and talk.


You sure understand that companies today can no longer afford not to listen to these conversations!

This information is precious and essential for companies that want to grow, to improve their offer and to have happy customers.”

Agent XX approaches the blackboard and writes a number “1” in large letters.


“Perhaps the ones among you who are more informed on these topics have already understood the potential of social listening, but I want this concept to be crystal clear for everyone! Let’s sum it up in two points.


This information is at your fingertips and easy to find: ignoring it means shooting yourself in the foot. There are no excuses: any company who cares about its success and really wants to grow should – I daresay MUST – get social listening tools.

I’m not talking about a complex nor costly activity, but about a real opportunity that companies can, and should, catch.


Obviously this is an activity that can be done with different levels of depth depending on the goals, the budget and the market a company is in. But it must be seized.


Our task is to help companies choose the right tools, to help them successfully plan the activities and lastly to intervene if the situation becomes particularly complex and critical.

Intercepting online conversations is an opportunity to get into your customers' head. The companies of the past would pay in gold to have this information!


Yes, you got it right. It’s a paradox: many companies, in order to save money, expose them unconsciously to incredible risks, and end up spending a lot more or even risking to fail!

I’ll make you an example.  Would you ever drive your car blindfolded?


Obviously not, no one in his/her mind would ever drive with a blindfold… the risks of a car crash would be too high!

What’s incredible is that many companies, unfortunately the majority of them, are used to take strategic decisions blindly.


How can you launch a new product line without knowing what people think of your current products or not knowing how are your market trends evolving!?!?!” Agent XX exclaims.
“It’s simply impossible, but the absurd thing is that most of the companies knows it very well. That’s why they are willing to buy expensive market researches or to spend in costly and time-consuming surveys


They do not realize that through social listening they could get real time surveys and market researches, at a really lower cost… and I repeat, in real time and not after months!” Agent XX concludes turning to the blackboard and shaking her head as if in spite of everything she could not fully come to term with it.


How to blame her: having this information in real time and at a lower cost means more revenue opportunities and lower expanses.. and yet many companies continue to ignore it.

Listening to social buzz is much cheaper than launching interviews and focus groups... plus, it helps you optimize your marketing budget and prevent costly crises!

A guy in the front row raised his hand. “Excuse me, Agent, but what happens if a company has just a few online conversations?”


“Good question!” responds Agent XX, happy that the class is interested in the topic. “It could seem strange, but even finding out that the online buzz is low is an important feedback for the company!


It means that people do not consider your brand/products an interesting topic, or rather they talk about your competitors. It is a signal that you must work harder to build your brand image and arouse the interest!


In these cases we can help our customers increase the volume of the online conversations, triggering people to talk about them spontaneously to measure the sentiment. This is not the right place to go deeper into it, but we can undertake actions aimed at increasing the visibility and discussions around a brand or a specific product.”


Agent XX pauses, to allow the class to take notes. “Well, the lesson is almost over. Before leaving, answer this question to see if you got it:

Even discovering that people are NOT TALKING about your company is a feedback!

“How often should social listening be done?”

ALWAYS!!!” the recruits exclaim with one voice.

“Exactly!” Agent XX exclaims. “I will never tire of repeating it: today, companies must ALWAYS be up to date on what’s happening online, and in particular on what is said about them, knowing the health of their reputation.


Companies that are not doing that – it seems impossible but there are still a lot of them! – must begin as soon as possible. Indeed, they should catch up on lost time with a in-depth analysis of their reputation, looking back at least at the previous year.

So they must set at least a monthly periodical monitoring, even better if continuous day by day, to be the first to know if an online newspaper writes about them or if they receive a bad review. Never forget it! ”


She is about to end the lesson, but then adds: “But we must understand that sometimes deciding to invest in this field can be a difficult choice for companies. They could feel not to have enough budget or human resources, or just be unsure of the outcome. It’s more than normal!


For this reason, along with our leader Agent M, we decided to offer a basic market research, called “Basic X-Ray”: the companies will decide whether to go for the full research or not, only AFTER seeing the results on their own industry.


But this is not the place to talk about it! As a task for the next class, study the page “Market X-Ray”. At the end you will find all the explanations about the Basic X-Ray. Expect an exam about it!”


She pauses and then asks to the class: “Are there any other questions?” Receiving no reply, Agent XX concludes the lesson. “Thanks for listening and see you next time!” The recruits close their notebooks and leave the room, greeting Agent XX.

What are you waiting for? Go on with your visit to the Hexagon!

221, Mount Olimpus, Rheasilvia, Mars
Solar System, Milky Way Galaxy
+1 (999) 999-99-99
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