6. 5 capabilities of a social listening tool to uplift your brand

8th January 2024

The evolution and rising interest in social listening tools are testament to their undeniable influence in today's digital age.


At Pulsar, we elevate social listening by offering a refined approach to deciphering online spaces and human behavior. This sophisticated analysis transcends mere social monitoring, delving deep into what's coined as 'audience intelligence'. In essence, while social listening forms a pivotal part of this intelligence, the broader perspective of audience understanding it offers is truly unparalleled. Explore the differences and interplay between social listening vs social monitoring by referencing our earlier article.With the correct tools and methodologies, the digital realm becomes a treasure trove, granting access to continuous flows of public sentiment, emerging trends, and diverse interests. These real-time insights are invaluable in molding and enhancing your brand's strategy.

So, what's the real advantage? For marketing and PR experts, a social listening tool isn't just a good-to-have; it's a necessity. It enables you to align your strategies and content with what truly resonates with your audience. By harnessing real-time data, detailed audience segments, and intricate trend and sentiment analysis, crafting impactful strategies becomes less about guesswork and more about informed decision-making. 

The result? A profound understanding of your audience that fosters an exceptional customer experience (CX). By grasping both the motivators and challenges faced by your audience, you're well-equipped to influence consumer behavior, ensuring you're always a step ahead.

Before we uncover the advanced capabilities of modern social listening tools, it's essential to define what we mean by 'social listening'.


What is social listening? 

Social listening, often termed 'social media listening', refers to monitoring and analyzing public dialogues on social media platforms.

Essentially, it involves tracking specific topics, keywords, hashtags, or brand names across diverse social channels, offering real-time data on every mention. But what are the benefits of social listening? 

Delving into these digital conversations provides a panoramic view of how your brand, or topics pertinent to your industry, are being perceived and discussed. This insight is invaluable, whether you're gauging broad sentiment about your brand or zooming in on individual product discussions. The findings harvested here can shape myriad business choices, propelling you towards a more impactful, insight-driven marketing strategy.

It's crucial to understand that insights drawn from social listening differ from one platform to another. Factors influencing this include the unique user demographics and affinities of each platform and its inherent characteristics or features. While Instagram thrives on visual content, platforms like Reddit and X (previously Twitter) are fertile grounds for text-rich dialogues - their 'threads' and 'subreddits' often spawning extensive public discourse, opinions and even more disputing debates. 

While casting a wide net across multiple platforms grants a holistic perspective on evolving trends and discussions, honing in on a single platform can provide marketers with more direct, actionable insights. Such precision allows for tailoring strategies to capture a specific audience segment on that platform for accurate and effective target marketing.

For more information on social listening, what it is, and how to go about building an effective strategy - head to our ‘Guide to social listening’. 



We've discussed the potential and advantages of social listening, but how do you identify the best features within specific tools?

Social listening tools have come a long way, but at Pulsar, we champion audience intelligence as the gold standard for truly comprehending your audience.

Now, let's delve into the features of Pulsar's social listening tools that can enhance your brand and strategy. We'll also see how incorporating a comprehensive audience intelligence approach elevates these benefits with examples.


1. Real-time insights

In an era where subscription services reign supreme, understanding consumer behavior becomes pivotal for brands to adapt and thrive. More than ever, real-time insights offer an unparalleled advantage, enabling businesses to react promptly to emerging trends and customer sentiments.

Graph showing the increase in interest of cancelled subscriptions

Let's consider the data gathered by Pulsar on subscription cancellations as an example to illustrate the power of real-time social listening. With many households globally subscribed to at least one service, from entertainment to utilities, tracking subscription patterns provides crucial intel on shifting consumer preferences.

While historical data gives the context of long-term patterns and trends, real-time data unveiled sudden surges in subscription cancellations during specific periods. Cultural events and the cost of living crisis played significant roles in these spikes.

Pie chart showing that price increases are the biggest reason for cancelled subscriptions

Delving deeper using Pulsar's TRAC tool provided a granular view into the reasons behind these decisions. An insightful revelation was the emphasis on cost over perceived value amid the prevailing economic hardships, and the correlation between changes to services and cancellations also underscored the necessity for consistent quality.

This analysis showcases the potency of real-time insights. In a constantly evolving consumer environment, such immediate feedback is invaluable. Social listening both helps businesses understand current sentiments while empowering them to fine-tune their strategies in real-time to better resonate with their audience's needs and wants.


2. Audience segmentation

Understanding the distinct behaviors, preferences, and characteristics of various audience segments is crucial. 

Dietary preferences transcend mere taste - they can represent cultural affinities, self-identity, and societal norms. Take salmon, for example. While smoked salmon, gravlax, and sashimi are essentially the same fish, their cultural and consumption contexts differ significantly.


Chart showing how online communities talk about different types of salmon


Through a comprehensive Pulsar analysis, these differences come into sharp focus. For example, segments like urban liberals and tech professionals, often of a higher socioeconomic status, discuss salmon in the context of luxury. Meanwhile, gamers, deeply influenced by Japanese culture, display a notable affinity for sashimi. Such distinctions demonstrate the varied ways in which specific audience segments relate to a single product.

Salmon online audience

Pulsar's Communities feature offers more nuanced insights, connecting cultural backgrounds to specific salmon preferences. Yet, the unpredictability of cultural influence is also evident, as seen with Kanye West’s birthday party celebrations with Nyotaimori, the Japanese practice of serving sashimi from the naked body of a woman, resonating among young US Hip-Hop enthusiasts - a segment likely to be missed unless aided with an advanced social listening tool.

This salmon-centric exploration underlines a pivotal business truth: even seemingly simple food choices stem from a rich tapestry of cultural, social, and personal factors. Audience segmentation allows brands to navigate this intricate landscape, tailoring brand messaging to resonate with each segment allows businesses to achieve heightened engagement and loyalty.


3. Trend analysis

Trends shape cultures, redefine markets, and influence purchasing decisions. Detailed trend analysis equipt foresight, helping them adapt to market dynamics and maintain relevance. A prime example is the rise of Gorpcore.

Gorpcore, a style movement merging outdoor gear with urban fashion, surged in popularity within the 21st century's latter half. A closer look via a Pulsar study delves into the factors propelling its rise.

Graph showing the increased interest in gorpcore

At first glance, urban centers are awash with individuals donning outdoor gear despite the absence of wilderness. However, when utilizing tools like Pulsar, it's possible to segregate these fashion enthusiasts based on their preference for specific outdoor brands and clothing. Such precision in categorization dramatically shifts the strategies of fashion marketers and brands.

If a brand aims to connect with those already enthusiastic about this rugged urban style, this segmentation provides a more focused communication channel. Instead of generic fashion promotions, these brands can now develop messages directly catering to those who resonate with the style over functionality. 

Chart showing how outdoor brands are rising above designer and sports brands

Trend analysis further pinpointed the role of influential celebrities and designers championing the Gorpcore aesthetic. High-profile appearances in chunky hiking boots, fleeces, and utility bags weren't merely fashion statements but declarations of a shifting zeitgeist, allowing brands to infuse Gorpcore elements into their lines, solidifying the trend's market prominence.

By dissecting Gorpcore's rise, Pulsar illuminated the importance of tracking cultural undercurrents, influencer endorsements, and market real-time responses. Such insights are invaluable and allow businesses to anticipate, react to, and shape emerging trends.

For brands, trend analysis isn't just about spotting what's in vogue. It's about understanding the complexities driving these shifts, ensuring they're not just following but leading the next movement.


4. Sentiment analysis

The global health crisis showcased how sentiment analysis was integral in understanding the beliefs and attitudes of diverse audiences. The RREAL case study with Pulsar, undertaken by digital epidemiology expert Sam Martin, is a stellar example of the power and precision of modern sentiment analysis tools.


RREAL case study for Pulsar


Traditional methods, like direct interviews, only captured a limited snapshot when assessing vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine sentiments among healthcare professionals. With Pulsar, the research team could dive into real-time and historic data, revealing the intricate layers of opinions and feelings shared on social media platforms.

By employing Pulsar's bio keyword filter, the team could pinpoint conversations of nurses, midwives, doctors, and other healthcare professionals in the UK. The platform's tagging feature highlighted the complex web of sentiments and emotions surrounding Covid-19 vaccines.

Key findings, such as the propagation of hashtags like #InformedConsent and #LearnTheRisk, showcased how misinformation spread. The rise of concerning hashtags, such as #Nuremberg2, which drew parallels between vaccines and non-consensual human experimentation, further highlighted the spread of disinformation.

Critically, sentiment analysis unveiled how alt-right campaigner hashtags from the US were infiltrating the UK's anti-vax discourse, creating what Sam Martin described as a "hashtag virus." These insights, presented through Pulsar's visual tools, proved invaluable for non-data scientists in public health organizations.


RREAL trending hashtags discovered with social listening


The real-world impact of this sentiment analysis is undeniable. The insights gleaned were not just academic but led to actionable policy recommendations. The speed and precision with which Pulsar facilitated these findings allowed health organizations to adjust their communication strategies and guidelines.

The RREAL case study underscores the profound importance of sentiment analysis in modern public health discourse. By tapping into real-time emotions and opinions, healthcare organizations can pivot, adapt, and ensure their messages resonate with their intended audience.


5. Superior CX (customer experience) 

Thinx, renowned for its period-proof underwear, encountered significant e-commerce challenges in 2020. With the pandemic pushing more people online, logistical concerns, such as delivery delays and stolen packages, became rampant. Furthermore, the rapid news cycle necessitated agile brand responses, making it vital to keep a pulse on customer sentiment and competitor actions.


Thinx case study for using Pulsar


Thinx adeptly turned to social listening. Using Pulsar TRAC, they proactively monitored conversations about potential issues, from delivery woes to stock shortages. Keeping tabs enabled them to address customer concerns in real time and adjust communications as customer patience ebbed.

Beyond this, Thinx utilized Pulsar CORE to enhance creative content strategies. By analyzing their content's resonance with audiences and juxtaposing it against competitors', Thinx could adapt to trending themes and effectively harness user-generated content. Alice Warren, Director of CX at Thinx, highlighted Pulsar CORE's capabilities, emphasizing its comparative insights that informed their content and campaign strategies.

Thinx engagement rate

Thinx's strategic use of social listening tools fortified their customer experience amidst challenges while refining their content to align seamlessly with audience expectations and market trends.


Get started: Using a social listening tool to uplift your brand strategy

If you’re on the hunt for an effective social listening tool to uplift your brand strategy, you’re in the right place. 

Now that the benefits of using an advanced social listening tool are clear, get in touch today to make use of the vast benefits our audience intelligence platform has to offer. With Pulsar, you're not only listening - you're tuning into the future of brand engagement.