Long gone are the days where critics held centre stage as the oracle of public opinion and held the power to influence a programme’s popularity. In this social-media-fuelled era, individual viewers now possess the authority to instantly share their love, or hate, for a programme with the world: peer opinion is now the leading act.
With this shift in influence and power, it has never been more important for broadcasters and producers to consider social listening tools and strategies.
Social listening is the process of tracking and monitoring digital conversations around specific topics, phrases and keywords to understand what viewers are saying online about a brand, or in our case, the broadcast industry or our programmes. However, it is far more than just monitoring our existing mentions and hashtags. Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights, put it perfectly, “Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest.”
As digital channels proliferate, there are myriad ways for viewers and listeners to share feedback and experiences — both directly and anonymously.
Social listening allows social media teams to prioritise and evaluate feedback from the public. This feedback can be used to create more appealing offerings, in the form of reactive social media content and real time engagement. It is a way of tapping in to the zeitgeist of audiences tastes and expectations.
Listen before you speak. It’s something you were told growing up.
“It’s a phrase you’ve thought to yourself after saying something well intentioned that came out a bit…awkward. But while individuals have been trained to understand the importance of active listening and thoughtful communication, brands haven’t always had the strategies or tools to do so at scale. If we don’t listen to what our audience wants, we won’t be able to connect with them. We won’t be able to help or influence them.” says Sprout Social.
Listening to wider conversations and audience feedback means programmes can create better, stronger reactive content in relation to popular opinions. For example, in drama, if one character is revealed to be more popular than another (perhaps this is not the lead character), then the social team can produce more assets and content around this person. It makes content more relatable, shareable and topical.
This is especially important for soaps, reality TV and entertainment shows as this information can be fed back, in real time, to producers and broadcasters to help influence and shape the programme overall, including storylines and number of scenes for particularly popular talent.
Shows like X Factor can even use social listening to gauge audience perception to influence how much behind the scenes air time each contestant receives. Social listening really gives us the opportunities to learn, grow and give audiences more of what they want.
When we, at SMMS, create responsive assets based on social listening, these assets generally outperform our prepared assets by as much as 50%. Joining in on a fan joke or sharing more of what our audience loves, keeps our programmes fresh, fun and shareable.
From indies to broadcasters, social listening should be seen as an integral part of any social media and marketing campaign. Not only does it allow a programme to be responsive, it allows you to mine deeper into the data for future series. At SMMS, we use Sprout Social to focus heavily on sentiment figures, conversation topics and influencer mentions as we feel these best inform our campaigns and allow us to set future, more meaningful, benchmarks.
Jo Booth is the Director & Head Trainer at Social Media Makes Sense – the UKs leading TV & Broadcast Social Media Specialist. Adapted from an article which first appeared in Broadcast Magazine.