Have you noticed that drive-thru restaurants have stopped putting so many napkins in takeaway bags? Rather than a clump of napkins, diners now find three or four. Why is that? Because marketers paid drivers to pull over, open up their car doors, and let researchers rummage around. In cars that were pulled over, researchers found extra, unused napkins stuffed into cup holders, armrests, and wherever else people could find a spot to stick the superfluous napkins. This is just one of many ways marketers conduct research – simulated shopping, interviews, homestays, eye tracking software – all helping companies understand how constituents behave, interact with products, and think about brands.

Today, online tools offer an alternate and, importantly, accessible path to this insight. For the many organizations without teams of market researchers rummaging through cars or vast marketing budgets, social media + web analytics can provide a window to constituents’ conversations, attitudes, and actions.

Seriously, next time you’re on Twitter, search for “too many napkins.” Read through the comments. It only takes a second to tap into the frustrated conversations about fast food brands giving out too many napkins.


How does your organization make sense of those conversations around your brand?

Constituents act and hold conversations online constantly and according to Erika Brooks (@ebrookes), VP of Product Strategy at Oracle Social Cloud, the key to making sense of the conversation is active listening. She shared her thoughts on American Marketing Association’s (@AMA_Marketing) recent webinar, Signal to Noise – Turning Social Listening and Data into Insights and Actions.

What does your organization need to know about active listening and social media + web conversations?

Start by acknowledging that active listening requires more than perusing Twitter, setting up a Google Alert, or browsing constituents’ Facebook profiles. What’s needed: an active listening strategy, an understanding of how active listening supports the organization’s mission, and infrastructure to support the strategy.

Infrastructure means cultivating a social media presence, deploying analysis tools, and employing interpreters to apply findings throughout the organization. Social media + web conversations are powerful, but they buzz constantly, swarm trends unexpectedly, and fly in new directions within a split-second. To make sense of this chatter, organizations can use analysis tools to understand what’s being said. Analysis tools – like Bear Pulse, MutualMind, SproutSocial, & Radian6 – can analyze reactions, sentiments, changes in conversations, geographic and demographic differences, etc.

Any organization can tap into social media + web conversations. Put the right strategy and tools in place, and insight about your constituents is available for the taking. Your organization will benefit from understanding its constituents better—without resorting to rummaging through people’s glove compartments!