Q&A: Understanding brand health by listening to your audience

Q&A: Understanding brand health by listening to your audience


What does your audience have to say about your brand’s health?

Gilbert Saktoe, Global Social Insights Lead

By Gilbert Saktoe, Global Social Insights Lead

A single online review, comment, or even a simple social media post captioned “I love this brand!” can make a world of difference in your brand’s reputation. Learning to listen to consumers as they communicate indirectly through their various social media has become imperative in this age of likes and shares.

That’s where our Brand Fame solution comes in. With a thoughtful balance of AI and human intelligence, it helps you understand what consumers are saying about your brand online. We asked our Global Social Insights Lead, Gilbert Saktoe, who has been working in social insights since 2010, years before Instagram even existed! So, we asked him to shed some light on digital brand health as he knows better than anyone how vital social insights have become in understanding brand perception.


Q: What do you find most exciting about your work here at MetrixLab?

A: They say the whole is even greater than the sum of its parts. The parts I like about my work include: (1) working with passionate and smart people (2) helping to grow some of the biggest and most exciting brands in the world (3) our challenger state of mind, where we’re always pushing ourselves and our clients to improve (4) did I already mention the smart and passionate people?

Put these all together and the “whole” is pretty special.

Q: Why is it so important to understand brand health through social media?

A: A brand’s narrative is not only controlled by the brand itself, but also its audience. They have a profound impact in the way other consumers see or perceive a brand. They are having conversations about a brand without the brand being present. Businesses should play an important part in their own narrative, and social insights can help with that.

On top of that, many companies invest in social media campaigns or influencers, but they don’t actually know what kind of impact it has on their brand. So, you’re not using your budget very effectively if you can’t assess if these marketing activities are successful, and you’re also potentially missing out on opportunities to build a stronger brand online.

Q: Aren’t most brands already using social listening pretty effectively?

A: Not always. A lot of our clients have a social listening tool in place, but it may be underleveraged because it’s not actionable or it doesn’t drive impact.

This is because there is a tremendous amount of noise in social media data. And you can’t have actionability if the quality of the data is bad.

Take for example hypothetical brand “Oscar’s pet food.” You can imagine that during the actual Oscar’s film awards there is a tremendous amount of noise online – data from social media is flooded with irrelevant content.

That’s why we need to work extra hard to get rid of the noise!

Besides noise, the listening tools in place may not code everything accurately. When you look at a typical social listening tool’s independent results, they express that most topics talked about online have a neutral sentiment. That is because these tools cannot read and distinguish emotions like sarcasm and humor and so cannot categorize topics concretely. You need smart machines supplemented with human intelligence to understand the true voice of your consumer and get to granular learnings that will result in actionable insights!

Q: Is this why the human element is still important in data analysis?

A: Exactly. At MetrixLab, we are extremely strict with the quality of our data. So, we continue to rely on human intelligence in our analyses across solutions, even though we smartly pair it with various AI tools and methodologies to get the best of both worlds. We understand the need for efficiency and speed for example, which technology obviously facilitates a lot.

Q: Are social media insights really the holy grail of brand tracking?

A: I don’t know about that but it is definitely important! To really understand your brand’s health in a holistic way, we look at data from social media and other sources.

There is a fear that combining social, survey, or other brand tracking data might give contradicting insights, and this might make growing your brand more complex. But we should embrace different perspectives because each has their own strength.

To give you an example, a fictional sports drink works toward measuring the success of their brand by conducting a survey. The survey results paint a more held-back picture of overall brand performance. This could be because if you ask the average person about the drink, they might mention that they dislike the taste (“it tastes like cotton candy”).

But the brand’s digital social media health might have been excellent. This was perhaps because they were killing it with all kinds of activations by portraying a strong, fun, and energetic image. So, their challenge is to bring that online and offline identity together, for example, by innovating the product – sharing a more connected drinking experience.

So, you really need multiple sources of data to understand your brand’s performance. Not only survey data, but also social data, search statistics, and the more the merrier!

Spectrum of source of insights

What customers express

Social data

Unprompted social data captures expressed uncensored opinions of customers involved in your brand.

Characteristics of social data

Unprompted feedback
Rich in nuance and detail
On demand
Who’s talking

How customers feel

Survey data

Prompted questions generate insights into awareness, attitudes and motivations for behaviour.

Characteristics of survey

Answering specific questions
Target audience specific
Who’s using

Combining the best of both worlds to provide deeper insights and a holistic view

Holistic customer understanding

Social + Survey

Unprompted social data captures expressed uncensored opinions of customers that feeds into the survey

Characteristics of a holistic view

Deeper insights
Proven insights based on triangulation
Brand insights when you need them
Social brings survey to life by translating insights into actionable recommendations

Brand Fame

With people constantly reinventing brands online through their digital conversations, brand health is more important now than ever.

After all, according to Intuit’s CEO Scott Cook, a brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.

Watch below to see more about the MetrixLab approach. 

So you think you know what people think about YOUR BRAND?

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