Music, fashion, culture, real people: far more than any corporate marketing department, these are what really shape the beauty industry. To keep track of what’s happening out there, however, brands need to know how to listen.
This brings us to social media monitoring: a type of audience research that involves identifying and analysing the conversations and trends happening online — not just around your brand, but about everything that impacts the beauty industry. Reliable audience research has always been vital, so here’s a closer look at why social media monitoring deserves to be top of your list of audience research tools.
Audience research reimagined: it’s time to think smart about social
From merchandising through to customer service, the mantra ‘know your audience’ applies to virtually all aspects of your business. Good research tells you what your audience are thinking: their attitudes, interests, preferences, and behaviour. Done right, it can stop you making decisions on the basis of false assumptions — ultimately helping you avoid costly mistakes.
Surveys, customer interviews, focus groups and independent, industry-wide publications can all be useful sources of audience research. That said, all can have their limitations:
- Sample size and representative accuracy are two common issues. Let’s say that you rely heavily on focus group findings for palette choices on your upcoming cosmetics range. Just how confident are you that the comments of the sample group mirror the views of your audience at large?
- Timing can be another big problem. Weeks — even months — can elapse between someone proposing a traditional market research project and the usable results finally landing on your desk. But especially in beauty, it sometimes takes no more than a single viral image, a music video release or a product launch to change the consumer landscape. The research you were waiting for could be out of date before you even have the chance to digest it.
How can social media monitoring help?
First off; sample size. There are 4.2 billion internet users out there. Of those, there are around 3.4 billion active social media users, spending an average of almost 2 hours a day on social. That’s a lot of conversations. And so long as you have the ability to pick up on the conversations that are relevant to your brand, it’s a veritable treasure trove of audience intel.
Next; timing. The beauty of social media monitoring is its ability to alert you on emerging trends and events in real time. Done right, and you’ll no longer be reading about trends in Teen Vogue that you really ought to have picked up on weeks ago.
Most business owners are used to thinking about social as a marketing channel; a way to communicate and engage with your customers. At the same time, it’s worth focusing on social as an incredibly valuable research window — not just on your your own customers — but on the beauty landscape as a whole.
Your brand at the centre of the story
Social media monitoring enables you to identify trends that are important to your audience as they are emerging — rather than after the event. This can open up potentially valuable newsjacking opportunities: positioning your brand to take full advantage of what’s happening on the ground.
Let’s say a competitor has recently been called out for non-sustainable ingredients, for instance. This could be your opportunity to stress your ethical credentials and position yourself as a better alternative.
It works as a damage limitation and PR management tool, too. Social media monitoring can help you pick up on early negative rumbles about your product range before those issues start to feature in your review streams. This gives you the chance to rectify problems at the earliest possible stage.
Keeping your product range fresh
Through social media monitoring, you identify that among your target group, there’s suddenly lots of buzz around a particular music vid. People are asking how they can achieve a certain look. This is your chance to show them how it’s achievable from items in your range.
More widely, social media monitoring keeps you constantly in tune with customer expectations. It’s just what you need for innovative product development — and staying ahead of the competition.
For social media monitoring to work for your business, you need certain capabilities in place. First off, you need the full picture: i.e. data from each and every platform that’s important to your brand. You also need the ability to draw insights from the information available — so you’re not drowning in data. Finally, never underestimate the importance of a user-friendly interface: after all, you’re not going to be able to monitor properly unless your people are able to use the tools in front of them.
This is where mmi's media solutions can help. Helping beauty PR and marketing teams monitor all their media activity in one place, it gives you everything you need to track your performance — and always keep track of what’s important to your audience. mediaPRO offers a more streamlined way of collecting, measuring, and analysing vital data — including brand and product activity, mentions by influencers, and engagement — from across social, online and print. This enables you to listen more carefully to how your brand is being perceived, and subsequently stay in control of your image.