Search listening vs social media listening

Or maybe search listening and social media listening would be a better title. Because they both give us different customer insights and perspectives which are valuable in for planning.

But hang on a minute, didn’t I call social media out for its propensity for social desirability bias?

Well, yes. But, before you throw the social media analysis out with the bath water, it’s worth remembering that to get the most accurate view of your customer, you need to layer different data from different customer insight techniques together.

Social media relies on data from people who know that they are being observed by others. We all know that people can lie and misrepresent themselves on social media from time to time (we’ve all done it).

But, while social media might not always present us with a truly candid view of what our customers want and need, but it can tell us more about how they want to be perceived. The identity that they’re keen to project on the world is useful insight for us to understand as marketers.

The overriding trend with search listening is that people are much more candid about what they really think and feel when they type queries into search engines. At Search Listening™, we talk a lot about how Google is a modern day confession box, where people reveal their personal anxieties and secret thoughts. Having access to this data can show us what’s really going on behind the social media ‘illusion’.

Comparing social media data and search data can reveal some interesting customer insights. Take a search for ‘my cat’…

A quick search for #mycat on Twitter returns cute and silly cat videos and images from cat loving owners:

You get the gist.

Analysis of ‘my cat’ as a search term using (to make sure that we’re still zoning in on cat owners), shows us a different perspective. Here, concerned cat lovers reveal that behind the cute, happy images we see on social, they worry about their furry friends – from physical health (‘is my cat too skinny’, ‘are my cat sick’, ‘is my cat contipated’) to the mental wellbeing of their pets (‘are my cat depressed’, is my cat happy’, ‘does my cat need a friend’, ‘does my cat hate me’).

For a brand with a focus on cats, understanding that cat owners both like to happily show their pets off on social media and have pressing worries about their pets are both useful insights. And if that brand can use both sets of insights to better meet the needs of their cat loving audience, then all the better for a purr-fect (sorry) customer experience.

So, get yourself out there and start unpicking your social and your search listening customer insights.

And if you want to learn more, our Search Listening and the Customer Journey video course and our free Search Listening vs Social Listening download will teach you exactly how to map these insights against different stages of your customer’s journey.