Note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
The proliferation of mobile devices and the ever-expanding role of location in digital life underscore the importance of mobile as a marketing channel. A perusal of the news in just the last month points to the influence and rapidly shifting nature of the location-based landscape. Recent studies show that more consumers are turning to reviews and use this information when considering local businesses and purchases. Google recently updated its local search algorithm to increase the impact of ratings and directory sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and OpenTable. Foursquare is also trying to fulfill this need, recently scrapping its check-in model to become the “ultimate food finder”. As consumers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to gather information and locate businesses, understanding the context and needs driving their behaviors is becoming more critical for marketers.
Where does local listening fit into the equation?
Before brands or retailers can begin to effectively navigate the world of location-based marketing (never mind the challenges around privacy and walking the tightrope between push messaging and annoyance), they need to better understand the target. As always, insights require effort and are rooted in context. Pairing local listening with other techniques (text analytics, etc.) and date sources can provide the extra layer of context needed to connect with your target. Below is sampling of applications that can be enhanced with local listening:
- Consumer Insights: The relevance filter is even stronger for mobile consumers. Simple data points like check-ins, when paired with keyword analysis, can provide valuable signals about consumer behaviors and clues about where consumers are talking about or using brands and products. Conversation trends within a specific location(s) can quickly surface valuable information about consumer needs, intent and behaviors.
- Event Marketing: Whether looking for real-time experience optimization or planning for future events, analyzing event-specific conversation can identify unmet needs, sub-optimal aspects of the event experience or even future partnering/co-branding opportunities.
- Healthcare Trends: Though Google Flu Trends and other tools haven’t proven predictive yet, pairing local conversation data with more traditional data sources that are also gathered locally can be a powerful resource for identifying and treating disease outbreaks.
- Crisis/Issues Management: When issues, campaigns or crises arise around brands, there is often a localized component. Monitoring the broader conversation provides a simple read on volume and sentiment. However, there is a need to develop a more detailed understanding of what is happening and who is driving the conversation at the location(s) of interest. Gathering local intelligence can greatly enhance decision-making and response planning.
Tools of the trade
There are a variety of tools that enable marketers to listen locally with precision. Just as in “regular” social listening, all tools have strengths and weaknesses. The key is aligning needs with tools, as there is no one-stop solution. There are currently two types of social listening tools that can used to gather local intelligence:
1) Local Listening Tools: This includes tools like GeoFeedia and Snaptrends, which are entirely focused on providing local listening intelligence. Both allow the user to set up custom listening “lenses” that can target very specific locations like stadiums, events, retail locations, etc. Data collected can be filtered by keyword, date, users and platform (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
1) Traditional Listening Tools: Although Sysomos, Brandwatch and Radian6 were designed for macro-level listening, they have integrated some filtering capabilities to provide more local context. Though they won’t provide the precision of Hyper Local listening tools, they will allow you to filter results down to the state and city level.
While local listening tools are in the early phases of development, as these tools evolve they will become more critical for informing data-driven decisions. And just as in all types of research, the standard caveats apply. Before diving in, it’s important to understand how the data will be used and specific application for your business. Objectives should drive the selection of tools and techniques, not the other way around.
Local listening is just a piece of the puzzle, but it provides a new window for marketers to listen and learn with precision and can be a valuable addition to your listening program. As the mantra of “Right Content. Right Context. Right Screen. Right Time.” becomes the expectation for consumers and the mandate for marketers, the value of local context will continue to grow. In the next post, we’ll take a look at how to use the tools to gather additional context for a real world example.