Social Listening for Brand Planning

Katelyn Alderfer, PhD, Senior Analyst, Social Intelligence | Matthew Ryan, Supervisor, Social Intelligence

November 19, 2021

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Planning season presents new opportunities to fine-tune a tried-and-true strategy, create a bold new campaign, or venture into uncharted territory. You may be asking yourself things like: how can I improve HCP targeting on Twitter? What messaging is important to patients right now? Should I expand into Reddit this year? By truly understanding your audiences, you can make data driven decisions to answer these questions and take on those new opportunities. Social listening is one of the best tools to help answer your important marketing questions and understand your target audiences, giving your team that spark of data-driven insight you might be looking for.

Different Types of Analysis for Brand Planning

Social listening can help to monitor conversations around your brands throughout the year, plus these reports can also provide deep insights around HCP and consumer sentiment that can greatly impact your brand planning for the upcoming year. The following are just a few examples of different types of analysis and how these analyses have helped clients to plan for their brand.

Brand Analysis:

This form of analysis can give insight into what is being said about your brand by both HCPs, patients, and organizations (think OncLive, JAMA, etc.). By understanding what is being said, your team can understand what these groups are showing interest in, where any pain points lie, what access is like, etc. Knowing this can help to inform educational information, as well as messaging for the upcoming year.

Client Reporting Example: A social listening brand analysis uncovered that some patients were stating that they are having trouble paying for a certain medication and found it to be expensive. This came as a surprise to the brand team because patient assistance programs existed for the treatment but were perhaps underutilized. This led to a concerted effort to boost messaging about the available assistance to the community.

Competitive Analysis:

Gives insight into what patients, HCPs, and organizations are saying about competitive products. This can help to understand what is and is not working with competitive brands and where your brand can step in.

Client Reporting Example: A competitive analysis revealed that patients showed a dislike for a competitive brand’s long treatment process. With this insight, it was suggested to the brand team that promoted content include messaging about the shorter treatment process associated with their brand as a key advantage.

Campaign Analysis:

A social listening campaign analysis gives insights into competitive advertisers’ messaging, what social media users are saying about that messaging, and what direction your competitors are going in for both HCP and consumer messaging.

Client Reporting Example: A social listening analysis identified that a competitive brand had recently launched both Facebook and Instagram accounts and appeared to be adding a Twitter page. The brand team determined that more listening was needed, which helped to determine why the competitor was choosing to promote on those platforms (patient use of Facebook and Instagram and a rise in HCP Twitter activity).

Advocacy Group Analysis:

Advocacy groups tend to be a hub for patient communities and are a voice for those within the community. By following advocacy groups through social listening, your brand can gather insight into what the community is looking for, where needs lie, and can ultimately give ideas for messaging to help address these needs and interests.

Client Reporting Example: An advocacy group social listening analysis revealed that advocacy groups in the community were discussing mental health and even holding mental health awareness events. Through social listening, we uncovered some patients discussing their mental health struggles due to their illness. This was brought to the brand team’s attention with the suggestion that they work with advocacy groups to co-sponsor events and use their social platforms to help bring awareness and get mental health aid to more patients.

Key Opinion Leader (KOL) Analysis:

This form of analysis gives insight into HCPs by marrying online analysis of their activity with metrics from offline data. This analysis takes a deep dive into an HCP’s social channels, publications, pharma partnerships, awards, education, and more.

Client Reporting Example: Through a KOL analysis a client team was informed that a particular HCP was responsible for three-quarters of a million dollars in written prescriptions for their brand in one calendar year and that the HCP’s hesitance to accept trial results was therefore incredibly impactful. Addressing HCP concerns surrounding the trial became paramount to the brand team’s campaign.

Patient Journey:

Taking advantage of new social listening capabilities can also help to expand the possibilities for your brand in 2022. For example, patient journey social listening can identify individual steps in a patient’s and HCP’s journey based on what they are communicating via social media. This information can then be used to determine where in the disease journey your brand can be of most assistance to the patient/ HCP, where messaging might be the most ideal, and what types of messaging could be most aligned with what patients and HCPs are looking for.

Client Reporting Example: An HCP/patient journey analysis determined that many patients were being misdiagnosed in the beginning of their treatment journey. This discovery showed the brand team that more awareness and education around the disease state was needed for both HCPs and patients, leading to the suggestion of an unbranded campaign to boost awareness.

Hashtag/Keyword Targeting:

Keyword targeting is critical for promoted content, and social listening can help to identify the top hashtags and keywords that are used around your brand, the disease state, and even competitive brands. By conducting this analysis, you can determine if you are currently using all top keywords in your targeting, or if there are more terms that you might want to include in the coming year.

Client Reporting Example: The top 10 keywords and hashtags used in conjunction with brand were identified. These were then cross compared with hashtags and keywords currently in use for targeting, which showed an opportunity to expand targeting keywords in upcoming brand campaigns.

Setting up for Success: Discovery and Collaboration

One of the most important parts of any social listening venture, especially for planning, is conducting a thorough discovery process. The discovery process can help to identify brand goals and objectives and determine what type of reporting might be most beneficial depending on the data that exists. The discovery process can also help to determine if you are asking the right questions and reveal any data that might be important to determining the type of reporting needed. For example, a brand team decided that they wanted to complete a brand analysis for planning. However, after the discovery session, it was determined that a competitive analysis would be even more beneficial to achieve the team’s goals.

Discovery can also reveal what your team might want to be looking for in your social listening. An example of this was a brand team that provided a list of keywords to do social listening around. The discovery revealed that there were not many mentions around the brand name, however, HCPs were consistently using the molecular name of the drug. Social listening was expanded to include this name and it revealed a plethora of data for the team. Inferred mentions can also be found during discovery. Patients and social media users might be frequently misspelling the brand name (possibly due to autocorrect) or not using the name at all and saying things like “manufacturer X’s medication.” Inferred mentions can say a lot about a brand and can significantly add important data to your reporting.

Another important factor that is decided in discovery is what listening period would be most helpful to your team for brand planning. Longer listening periods reveal a more holistic view of your brand and can give longer-term ideas for your upcoming season. However, a shorter listening period allows for a quick turnaround and can give an idea of what patients and HCPs are saying in the here and now about your brand.

The discovery sessions can answer many different questions and help to determine which of the above listening analyses would be most useful to your team but being as candid as possible about your brands wants and needs will be the most useful in creating the best reports for planning.