A Traditional Social Listening vs. SEEK's #nofilter Methodology

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  • by Sarah Urmston

It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was on the phone with a client discussing an upcoming search they had in mind for a #nofilter. But before discussing the specific project details, their team first needed to understand exactly what #nofilter is at SEEK in order to see how it would apply to their objectives.

If you’re unfamiliar with a #nofilter, our standard definition is "a social media audit that identifies actionable insights from a geographically diverse population in under two weeks.”

And while we talk about a #nofilter in far greater detail, we still often compare it to the better-known title, Social Listening.

But then, at the end of our call together, my client raises an incredibly important question: "Okay, then what is the real difference between a #nofilter and a Social Listening?"

This got me thinking... it is crucial to educate the individuals we work for every day on the clear difference between a #nofilter and social listening.

Let me start by saying… there is absolutely a difference. While both definitions are true, and both are beneficial when it comes to eavesdropping on individuals’ opinions without influencing discussion, there is still a uniqueness to the way SEEK approaches this type of research. And this is done by using the same empathic tools that make SEEK, SEEK.

First, let’s take a look at the key points commonly used to describe traditional social listening:

Traditional Social Listening 

(adapted definition from TrackMaven)

  • Monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.
  • Listening for community management, such as identifying customer pain points and providing direct consumer response to questions, complaints, and comments.
  • Gathering surface feedback that could help differentiate their brand, product, or service.
  • Digitally-generated themes & positive/negative sentiments based off of consumer verbatims.
  • An output of traditional themes and insight areas with a temporary shelf life.

The way we see traditional social listening is exactly that; it’s more traditional than a #nofilter approach. Traditional social listening has its own variety of offerings between sentiment analysis, the mention of brands and topic areas, and general consumer conversations happening online. But with a #nofilter, there is even more to be uncovered under all of that surface.

Now, let’s take a look at the way we define and differentiate a #nofilter at SEEK:

SEEK's #nofilter
  • SEEK uses the empathic process within our digital approach to identify empathic themes within the category.
    • Every day when we take a seat in front of our computer screen, we use empathy as the gatekeeper to gathering insights from every social media channel we spend hours of time on. For example, we think, “what channel are millennials currently spending most of their time? What type of keywords are they using in the way they communicate with each other?” And then, we go deeper. We uncover one verbatim that guides us to another, striking goldmines of rich conversations that a digitally-generated search alone wouldn’t catch. We are emphatically using our head, heart, and gut to guide ourselves to most authentic conversations. Every time.
  • We take into account your unique objectives while personally hand-coding over 500+ verbatims.
    • In the process of searching for verbatims online, your objectives are always at the top of our minds. We spend hours searching through hundreds to thousands of verbatims in order to assure we are capturing data that is most relevant to you and your brand while chopping out the weeds that rise to the surface in the process.
  • We cut through the surface and identify deeper emotions, tone, and true thoughts & feelings of your consumers.
    • We know humans are more complex than digitally-coded positive and negative sentiments, and there are more emotions that exist in human beings that are given as options on a digital platform. Therefore, we pay attention to these behaviors, feelings, and motivations that are expressed online. For example, the tone of sarcasm is not picked up by a digital platform. But it’s picked up by us, and we address the meaning behind the verbatims during each search.
  • SEEK uses an empathic, storytelling lens within the reporting process including unique, customized recommendations for your brand.
    • At the end of our social media search and coding process, our consultants strategically turn verbatims into themes, themes into insights, and insights into ideas for your brand. Our reports are woven together to tell the story of your consumer, the way your or other brands/categories are perceived, and the recommendations we have for you to show up more effective in the market.
  • Walk away with deeper, empathic themes and insights that have more longevity in the market.
    • When it comes to traditional social listening, it’s output is often producing traditional insights. When we are simply gathering statements that only focus on the unresolved want or need of another person, we walk away with more predictable innovation life-cycles and minimal levels of consumer advocacy. And while these types of insights still lead to fast results, they don’t always hold a long shelf life. However, when we go deeper and do the heavy lifting and human-centered searching upfront, we are able to move faster in future innovation. We see results that hold emotions, deeper thoughts, and empathic experiences of another person. Now, your insights revolve around the core human need and will have a better chance of sticking.

In every methodology we use at SEEK, we are always looking for the opportunity to go deeper; online research is never exempt from this. Social media has become one of the most common places for individuals to express themselves, offering a sea of discussion that creates more opportunities for consumer listening every single day.

And unlike a traditional social listening, SEEK’s #nofilter will always search for the core human truth behind each discussion.