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Social Listening – ‘Offering Assistance to the Modern Retailer’

The rapid and recurring advent of social media has enforced retailers to adopt to social listening. With more number of people flooding social media by the day and the diminishing effectiveness of traditional market surveys and data collection methods, retailers now understand the significance of resorting to social listening. Let's have a look at some telling numbers.


  • According to Social Skinny (2014), 510 comments were posted on Facebook, 293,000 statuses were updated and 1,36,000 photos were uploaded every 60 seconds.


  • 500 million tweets are sent each day (Brandwatch-2016)


  • Instagram now has 400 million active users (Brandwatch-2016)

These are baffling enough numbers for any retailer to recognize the importance of resorting to social listening. Social Listening is the effective monitoring of public conversations across different social media forums in order to gain fruitful insights on customers, their preferences, their dislikings, modern trends & perceptions, etc. Consumer opinions in the form of interactions, reviews, statuses, etc with respect to a particular brand or organization are monitored so that the retailer clearly understands what is working for him and what isn't. Social Listening can be a boon for modern retailers in the following ways.

social listening in retail


Informed Strategy


  • A study by FierceCMO reveals that 76% of marketers feel the need to be more data focused in order to succeed and 74% feel that the captured data should be applied in order to inform and drive marketing and promotional activities.

It's reviews and conversations galore on social media forums these days. Social listening helps in analysing this customer data and use the social chatter to inform business decisions. Effectively monitoring the conversations will help in determining the gaps in assortment strategy, check whether the pricing is properly aligned with product quality, etc. Once the retailer knows what the customers want, it becomes easier for him to engage, educate and influence them.


Customer Service


  • A survey by Oracle states that 43% of users on social media interact with brands and expect a direct response to a problem and 31% seek direct access to customer representatives or product experts.

Social Listening enable retailers to provide real time customer service solutions to their consumers. Customers complaints are no more hidden behind letters and telephone calls. A customer can voice his opinion on social media without any reservations, especially negative opinions. This in a way exposes the particular brand to the world which includes potential customers. Social Listenting not only helps in tracking down brand mentions but also highlights customer issues which can be solved or attended to in real time.


Identification of Influencers


  • A study by socialnomics in 2014 revealed that 93% of the buying decision of shoppers is influenced by social media as 90% trusted peer recommendations over 14% who trusted advertisements.

  • A survey on 23,000 respondents in 25 countries by PWC in 2016 revealed that 67% of respondents stated that reading or writing social media reviews influenced their shopping behavior.

Identifying influencers is important and the objective should be to communicate and initiate relationships with them in the future as they are essentially the representatives of a much larger base of customers. The above numbers reveal the increased dependency on peer recommendations and social media reviews. Influencers are basically the people who vouch for your products. They can be bloggers, journalists or your customers, etc. One way of identifying them is by tracking the link of the brand's article or press release and figuring out as to who has shared it. One can also check the levels of engagement on the brand's facebook page, number of retweets, etc. Obviously they can resort to the services of social listening tools like Google alerts, Hootsuite, Addictomatic, etc as well.


Understand Retail Landscape & Customer Insight


Social Listening tools help brands understand what is trending among their customers. Whether the buzz word among them is coupons, malls, service, etc, can be revealed to the retailers. Retailers can get access to customer conversations with the help of social listening platforms and understand who the main supporters of the brand are and how likely is it for them to get engaged. A huge degree of customer insight can also be generated in the form of customer preferences and perceptions. Proper monitoring of social media sentiments and interactions can help a retailer understand the kind of reaction a particular product launch may have on the customers and also helps in assessing or measuring the success level of promotional campaigns.

About Shakuntala Sarkar

Shakuntala is a marketer with 15 years of experience in Marketing Strategies & Operations, Brand Communications, Customer Relationship Management and Corporate Communications. An economics graduate from St Xavier’s college, Kolkata and a IIMC she, has worked across different industries like IT & Retail, with consumer marketing in both B2B and B2C segments. Before joining Tickto, she was the Head of Customer Relationship Management at Spencer’s Retail. Prior to that, she has been a part of the Global Marketing & Communications team of Satyam Computer Services.

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