Why Brands Need to Tune Their Ears
Hugh Burrows & Steve Earl

Data analytics. Data-driven brand storytelling. AI as an engagement channel. Social listening playbooks. Multi-channel content strategies.

These may all be part of the arsenals of the modern brand seeking to engage with its audiences and drive value from more sophisticated kinds of communication. But as guests at an event run by one of our analytics tools partners NewsWhip heard last night, before they can really hope to drive value and be better at digital communications, brands first need to make sure they’ve got a good pair of ears and are using them well.

The panellists – heads of digital from both agency and client-side – were universal in their opinion that the vast majority of social content created by brands is, even in 2018, one-way, one-size-fits-all – and completely uninformed by listening and insight. Pretty reprehensible when you consider, as we found out, that we each scroll through 300 feet of content every day, according to Facebook’s Andrew Keller.

NewsWhip is a tool that can track how billions of people engage with stories online and across social networks, to help develop a sharper understanding of not just what people are attracted to in stories, but why.

NewsWhip Logo

It’s just one of the kitbag of tools that we use to undertake social listening, a discipline that continues to evolve and give brands greater ability to plan stories and content that the public really wants to view and share.

But as debate covered, brands not only need to be better informed through better listening capabilities, they also need to be more human in how they use that intelligence to help them communicate more successfully.

Disclaimer here: we’re part of Zeno, an agency named after a Greek philosopher who loved to listen, saying people had two ears and one mouth so should use them in proportion. And a further disclaimer: Zeno’s Human Project and much of our work for clients centres on helping them to become more human in how they communicate.

Much ground was covered about how communication can misfire when brands don’t listen well enough, or don’t apply enough human context when acting on the data they get from analytics tools. Equally, examples were given of how media channels are adopting a much more human approach to how they develop and share content.

The bottom line, though, was that more human storytelling by more human brands needs ‘ears’ that are more tuned in to human beings. Not perhaps what you might expect from a data analytics event, but good to hear.

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