The Undeniable Importance of Social Listening

  • Date 17th August 2021
  • Author Angela Smith
The Undeniable Importance of Social Listening

As marketers, it’s all too easy for us to fall into the trap of giving our customers what we think they want. But if recent times have taught us anything, it’s that consumer behaviours and expectations are shifting more rapidly than ever, and marketers have to embrace an agile approach to follow suit. For any business to guarantee its success, it needs to give consumers what they want. Sounds easy enough – but how do we know what that is? To meet the ever-changing needs of today’s consumer, we need to challenge traditional marketing approaches and keep our ears to the ground.

I often think a lot of marketers get into the habit of recycling the same messages, promotions and products, based on past research and focus groups, but also because it’s “the way it’s always been done.” Yet, without taking a step back and regularly checking what consumers really think of their brand, they could be missing out on the bigger picture. Social listening is just one of the ways marketers can calibrate their messaging to ensure they continue to generate customer-centric campaigns. In turn, this will allow them to connect with consumers, make strategic marketing decisions, and ultimately, see long-term success.

Global personal care brand, Kimberly Clark, is moving against the grain and discarding traditional focus groups to prioritise social listening instead, allowing them to connect on a deeper level with their consumers. The approach is clearly working – with one Kimberly Clark nappy product seeing a 150% lift in sales on Amazon as a result.

Prioritising social listening has also enabled the personal care giant to become far more responsive to customer needs and concerns. Their data shows some of the assumptions the brand had about the way consumers used their products were actually way off the mark. For instance, Kimberly Clark found it difficult to forecast demand and was often left with unsold inventory. They launched an extensive social listening campaign to see how, why and when people were wearing masks (this was before the onset of the pandemic). This helped Kimberly Clark realise customers were wearing masks more in the winter months – where previously they’d assumed customers were predominantly protecting themselves from dust.

“[Social listening] also led us to drive new partnerships with other brands, for example, sports companies, to co-market the new masks,” explained Juliana Chu, Director of Digital and Analytics at Kimberly Clark. “We’re also putting weather forecasts into our overall demand forecasting.”

Kimberly Clark has also been using social listening insights to tap into customer queries and concerns being raised by customers on Amazon in India, enabling the brand to optimise marketing messages and content in response. By analysing popular queries in the nappies category, the brand was able to drive an increase in sales simply by changing the wording in its advertising and promotional messaging.

Not only has this approach allowed the brand to tune in to real-time customer feedback and engage with consumers, it’s also started to feed into product development. In China, responses from over ten thousand customers about their priorities when buying nappies and baby pull-up pants, has led to the development of an entirely new product. In this way, the brand’s product development arm is becoming far more agile, backed by real-time customer insights.

At AFFINITY, I’ve witnessed the power of social listening first-hand. Social listening played a key role in the campaign strategy for our client, Prospan. When researching for their campaign, “Don’t Ignore a Cough”, we found mums were regularly questioning how long they should wait before taking action when they had a sick child. We used real-time data to create a cough simulator, which resulted in click-through rates surging by 54%, while the brand’s cost per click dropped by a staggering 67%.

If you’d like to hear more about this work or you’d just like to discover how you can use social listening insights to connect with consumers or inform your next campaign, drop us a line at