Listen to your island, cut out the rest

I recently heard a valid statement from a Digital Communication Specialist: “Our brand name is known around the globe, but I only run and care about one country. So what I want to hear is what people say about us here on this island.”

All smartphones now include a built-in GPS receiver to enable location tracking. Still, it seems to be challengingly hard to restrict results from social listening to the region you care about. In February 2015 a study by the Local Search Association revealed that 70% of consumers are willing to share their location information in exchange for something of value. However, according to Econsultancy’s Cross-Channel Marketing Report 2015, only 39% of agencies are using location-based data to target mobile consumers. Quite some demand, but little supply. Why is that?

Well, even though many customers say they are willing to share their location, there still seem to be concerns around privacy. Or maybe it is as simple as the fact that smartphones have a bad battery life, which an activated GPS signal does not contribute to positively. As a result, only 2 to 5% of all social media messages natively carried geo-metadata according to Patrick O’Neil, EVP with The Radiant Group.

Given this lack of information, most commercial social listening tools struggle to provide a representative picture of mentions for your brand in your region. One approach to work around this challenge could be to be smart when setting up listening topics instead of relying on geo-metadata. The first question you should be asking yourself is: What do I want to do with the collected information and who can I get it from?

Depending on that answer, you will be able to set up concrete listening topics matching your expectations. If you want to analyze overall market trends, data from outside your island might provide helpful insight for innovation. If the need is to capture all customer service related inquiries, then a focus on the local audience is key as you won’t start solving everybody’s issues world-wide.

I thought about several tactics to narrow down results to a very local focus using commercial social listening tools without focusing on geo-metadata:

  • Play with names of cities, towns, villages, places or characteristic shops and monuments. Try to include as well as exclude them from your search, depending on your expectations.
  • Restrict your search to local blogs, forums or any other local websites, which you know your audience visits frequently.
  • Focus on listening to specific authors, who you know are local influencers.
  • Try to promote your owned channels as much as possible, where you know that everything is directed to you. The better value people get on your owned channels (e.g. a fast and relevant response), the more they will use them.
  • Campaigns around location-specific hashtags like #BrandLondon, #BrandNewcastle, #BrandBristol, etc. will allow you to segment by region once your customers start using them.

This will work best if you know what you want to do with the collected data. The clearer you can be on the data usage and your audience, the more meaningful the data will become.

Have any of the above tactics worked for you? What other approaches are you taking? And if anyone wants to take a guess to which island the above quoted person wanted to restrict listening results, feel free to leave a comment below.