#4 - Use Social Listening to learn about your brand!
Does the way people perceive your brand coincides with the image you want to convey?
For this fourth discussion around modern retail strategies, I'd like to listen to an amazing, brilliant, cutting-edge young woman and branding expert: Albane Flamant, Head of Brand & Data Storytelling at Talkwalker.
Albane has been part of the Talkwalker adventure since 2015. In a short period, she launched Talkwalker's marketing strategy on the French market and then in the US at the New York office. Today, she manages a team of 10 people.
👉 Does the way people perceive your brand coincides with the image you want to convey?
For this fourth discussion around modern retail strategies, I’d like to listen to an amazing, brilliant, cutting-edge young woman and branding expert: Albane Flamant, Head of Brand & Data Storytelling at Talkwalker.
Albane has been part of the Talkwalker adventure since 2015. In a short period, she launched Talkwalker’s marketing strategy on the French market and then in the US at the New York office. Today, she manages a team of 10 people.
Albane will explain why nowadays it is the consumer who defines who you are as a brand.
👍For this reason, it is crucial to know your audience inside and out to transition your business or franchise network digitally.
🔹You will discover:
- Why it is wise to use Social Listening to detect new trends.
- How to lift the veil on the secret life of your brand.
- What are the risks for a company, a retailer, not to do Social Listening?
Finally, Albane will share some tips applicable immediately to help you manage your company’s reputation.
🎧 Have a good listen!
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Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Welcome to Dgenious, Let's Talk Retail. The podcast that shares with you the tips and best practices of key players in the retail and franchise industry. Each episode is a conversation with an inspiring person or an expert in one of the key areas of modern retail. My name is Gaëlle Helsmoortel, I'm the CEO of Dgenious and I work every day with my team to enable retailers to boost their business through easy access to their data. If you're not afraid of new ideas and want to have a good time, this podcast is for you.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Albane, hello, how are you?
Albane Flamant: Hi Gaëlle, I'm doing very well. Thank you for having me on your podcast. It's always a pleasure.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: It's really a pleasure for me. I am delighted and I would like to tell our listeners that I have known you for a few years and I can tell you all that Albane is a young woman who is amazing, who is brilliant and who is at the forefront of modernity, especially for everything related to branding. Albane, today you are Head of Brand & Data Storytelling at Talkwalker, you have a team of ten people, mainly in marketing. So yes, it's related to branding, to storytelling. So, for those of you who don't know much about Talwalker, during the podcast, you'll have, I imagine, the opportunity to talk about it. But it's a company that was born in Luxembourg a little over ten years ago. If I'm not mistaken, it has just been elected by Forrester as the leading company in Social Listening Enterprise. So, you are a real expert in the field. You joined the Talkwalker adventure in early 2015, quite early in the company's history. You really launched the entire Talkwalker marketing strategy on the French market. And then in the United States, in the New York office. So, I'm really excited because I think you're going to bring a lot of positive things and stuff to our listeners today. I'm going to take the liberty of starting with the first question by asking: but actually, Albane, Social Listening, what is it?
Albane Flamant: Social Listening, actually, is the idea that now, there's a large portion of consumers that have gone online and so brands all around us are realizing that they're not really in control of what their brand is anymore, actually. There's a lot of this stuff that's happening at the consumer level, in these conversations that are happening online, on blogs, on social forums. And so, it's the idea of being able to really listen to what the consumer is saying, what our customers are saying to be able to provide a better experience and to be, ultimately, more profitable in itself.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Okay, so basically what you're doing is you're analyzing through a whole series of social media, websites, what's being said or seen about the brand, is that it?
Albane Flamant: Yeah, that's it. It's really the idea that we're able to analyze text. We're able to parse images from videos that now allow you to listen to branded lies, audio podcasts in all sorts of languages, so we cover 150 million websites, news sites, blogs, forums and social networks. So, of course, the most famous Twitter, Facebook, Teams, Instagram and many others and in other countries Cacao Stories for those who are fans of South Korea, for example. So, it's a global approach, we have brands, either very locally or in many countries around the world that are using Talkwalker to listen to what is being said about their brands, to be able to protect their reputation, to measure the performance of their marketing campaigns. And at the end of the day, to really get to know their consumers, to really get close to their customers.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Do you have maybe one or two examples in the retail sector without mentioning names, of course. How, concretely, do they use it? So, yes, they'll see that on this social media or this podcast, we mentioned their name or we mentioned the experience of one of our clients. What do they do with it? Because OK, there, thanks to your platform, they're going to see it to find out. But what can they actually do with it?
Albane Flamant: What's interesting is that a few years ago, Social Listening was not so well known and so we had very basic use keys that came ... well, with which the client came to us. There were some who wanted to listen, to monitor, for example, all the Facebook pages of their different brands, for example everywhere in different European countries, and see at a high level of quality control, that there were not more complaints, less complaints in one or two other stores that the customer experience was relatively uniform and qualitative. And so, he was doing not only on Facebook pages, but also in terms of coverage in the local news, for example, just to make sure, in fact, to protect their brand from any very specific and exceptional bad experience. That's a basic thing. Now we see clients coming with us with much more sophisticated use keys. Beyond crisis management, brand reputation management where they're really trying to get to know their audience to, for example, make a successful digital transition. With the pandemic, we've seen a lot of brands that have gone even more (probably) online, with options to pick up directly what you've bought at the store or to order directly online and so they're using the insights that can be social listening to get to know their customers better and create niche content that will reach different audience segments, for example. There's that brand protection aspect. That's really number one. The performance measurement aspect, of everything we do in terms of customer initiatives, marketing initiatives. So, making sure that we're reaching the right audiences, making sure that what we're doing is also having an impact, really selling more of a certain product, for example. So, make this connection between the metrics of social networks with the metrics really of pure sales, for example the business impact. And then, generally, try to promote your brand better by knowing the customer better
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: That's it, it's a kind of monitoring by saying "but what is said about me?" and to have maybe an aggregation of the keywords that are said? Does it allow many visitors who have chains, whether it's chain stores, chain restaurants, chain pharmacies, or any type of chain. Do they also have the opportunity to see if there are things that are said more in a region or in relation to a store. Can it also help them, when you have a little bit ... to do a kind of benchmarking between their different points of sale? Is that something that's done or not?
Albane Flamant: Absolutely. It can totally segment the data by geography, by language, by demographics as well, by demographics related to the users. How do people with a certain slice, for example, talk about my brand? In fact, it's not limited to your brand only, it's also your competitors potentially. So how does my share of voice compare, so market share, online share of voice, compare to my competitors? What are the key discussions in my industry? If I'm selling sporting goods, for example, how are people talking about the cycling life, bikes and cycling? How can I talk more than my customers, for example, make it more impactful?
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Yes, it's interesting what you say, because it means that it's not only about you, your brand I mean. It's in relation to, as you say very well, if I were selling sports articles, what is said about sports, maybe also found or start to detect certain trends? Because if you hear it more about this or that, can that also be a trend?
Albane Flamant: Absolutely, in terms of trends, for example, there was the whole transition towards healthy eating, for example, which happened a few years ago, but the first signals which were visible much earlier in the discussions, precisely in these online forums, whether they are social networks or other platforms, where consumers discuss. Really, what we see at Talkwalker is that people are not only talking directly about brands, but also that brands are present in our daily lives. And so, we talk a lot about hidden mentions of brands, so we don't just analyze text mentions, we also look for, for example, brand logos in publicly shared images online on Twitter, for example. And we're able to say "ah, but actually, people are talking not especially about you but a lot about your products" and we can tell because of your logo, at the beach for example. Just the kind of insights you could extract, for example about your brand. Saying well okay, in what context my brand is mentioned even when it's not explicitly mentioned, it's just when there's just a lot of images being shared for example.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Okay, and I think you had given me an example that was quite striking and you could analyze, for example. So, if someone or many people drink a beer on the beach, you can recognize what brand that beer is and it can give information to the brand saying here, we often drink my product on the beach, for example.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: That's right, if the logo is visible, indeed, that people take a picture and share it publicly, of course to the ones we have access to, we would be able to detect the brand logo and also detect that it's at the beach, or that it's at the airport or that it's in a shopping mall. And to say: Oh! This brand, for example, is particularly consumed, staged, at least in this type of environment. You can also say: Oh! It's often mentioned with other brands, so there's possibility of a partnership. For example, you talk about a brand of a drink, maybe if there is, I don't know, a brand of potato chips that is very often featured, either in the same brand or in different brands, there are possibilities of partnerships or possibilities of new products, potentially, and therefore new sales opportunities. That's what's interesting to follow, indeed.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Yes, because it allows the marketing teams to say, well, maybe we'll do a promotion or a campaign with a beach visual behind it. It can also allow them to buy campaigns.
Albane Flamant: Yes, so more and more beyond these examples of crisis, the reputation aspect is very clear to measure marketing campaigns on a daily basis. But this aspect of market research, market research on what is really in real time and understanding how people consume things, for example, at what time is he consuming? In what context? In front of the TV during a soccer game, for example? Or does he consume ice cream in winter? In what context? Are everyday things consumed? Because we realize more and more that brands are no longer that thing we control so much. It's the consumer who defines who you are as a brand. Your brand may have a “secret life”, that you don't know about.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: I love this concept, but you told me about it and I must admit that it made me think a lot too. Indeed, one is the full owner of his brand. Because there’s this famous secret life, a hidden life that you just talked about; which can be scary. What would you advise to our listeners who say: Oh yeah, my brand has a hidden life. What can I do to try to see what's going on in that secret part?
Albane Flamant: It's only hidden if all you keep, really, is your own channels as a brand. So, finally, the advice is to go as close as possible to the consumer, to listen to them as much as possible and to go beyond the traditional market research, it's important and it allows you to have a qualitative analysis of what people think of your brand, for example, but to go beyond that and to really integrate all the sources of feedback, all the touch points that you can have with your customer and see how... I mean, what's the customer experience on these different channels, to really have a consumer-centric strategy.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: What are, according to you, the risks today for a retailer not to do Social Listening, so to only look at the channels he manages. What would be the main risks today not to do that?
Albane Flamant: The immediate risk, of course, is a crisis. I mean, a crisis that either starts on social networks, or that is amplified over time. So, we see it almost every week in the business. For me, it's not "is there a crisis related to your brand", it's "when will the crisis happen". Of course, it can have different levels of severity, but being able to detect weak signals of that crisis really allows you to react in time. If I have any advice, already, it's just: if you don't have a crisis plan, start preparing. It's kind of like the fire drills that you have in every company, I guess. It's something you have to prepare for, all depending on your industry. You can easily brainstorm some potential crises. You won't know exactly what's going to happen, but you can tell yourself that you'll be ready. There's a good chance there will be one of these scenarios, for example. And in that case, here are our internal guidelines in relation to that, these are the people to contact, here's who's in charge, here's the crisis plan we're going to follow if something happens that's not good. Well, there's X number of people in the customer service department who have received this complaint that has the potential to become a huge problem for the company, what do they do with it? How is it shared in the box? They know exactly how to handle that information, that it's happening socially, although it's caused somewhere else in a store and then it's amplified on those. In fact, it's not just a social networking problem. It's a general problem for the box where you have to have a structured approach.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Yes, because obviously, even before social media or social networks, we usually had every brand with a crisis strategy. But it's true that there was maybe more time. Here, it can really start all of a sudden without us necessarily being aware of it. Because if you're at the head office of a brand, if it starts in a point of sale, you don't necessarily know about it directly.
Albane Flamant: What I wanted to say is that it's more a problem that can be limited to this brand, indeed, locally. Even something that happens in a small brand, thanks to social networks, can easily contaminate different audiences and you can have something that happens in Australia in a very small brand that is really connected to your brand, that causes problems for your brand in France, in Belgium, in the US, just because today on social networks, of course, there are all these microfiche, but all these microfiche that are very specific to what people prefer. But there's the potential for it to go viral, for it to go from these communities very, very quickly and for people not to make the difference between the franchise in Australia and your brand in France or Belgium, for example.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Yes, absolutely, excellent point. Indeed, as you say, it can go viral in a positive way. But also in a negative way, so you might as well be ready. I think also, you mentioned it when we were preparing this episode, what’s important was to make sure you know who's in charge and who's the person who can talk. Communicating when a crisis like that can potentially start, don't get into the question of who should respond.
Albane Flamant: And maybe there won't be a need for the person to react. That's the game in practice. I mean, maybe he doesn't need that person to react. The game is to keep the crisis at a manageable level. To use your example, at a time when there were big crisis plans and then, if things went badly, it ended up with the person going on TV shows... it's important to avoid the crisis taking on this magnitude. So, it's about reacting quickly to solve the problem of the client, for example, or the consumer, so that it doesn't take on cataclysmic proportions.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Could you give us one or two examples of best practices that you have seen from companies, from brands that used Social Listening in a way that you think is particularly interesting.
Albane Flamant: In general, what's going on... what I see interesting in clients, well... the clients who have the best idea, the ones who have clear questions that they want to answer, it's not just saying well well I'm going to do Social Listening because that's good and that's what you should do. So yes, I think it's a good practice to have. But what are the questions that you're going to answer on the Social Listening topic. Is it: where is my brand? So, a good practice, for example, is to say to yourself, I'm going to do a bit of an audit, I'm going to look at a little audit of my brand and I'm going to see where I stand, on which channels I'm active. Is my audience there? Is the way people perceive my brand the way I want them to perceive it today? And then, from the moment you situate yourself as a brand, you can say, well okay I'm asking myself these questions and I'm doing these objectives. And the way to get there is through this listing, for example, which will give me insights on the brand, insights on my competitors, insights on the underlying trends in my sector, and that will allow me to answer these questions and therefore move forward more quickly until the end of the day. What we all want is for our businesses to be more efficient so that we can serve customers better. And so, you have to make sure that if you're going to go into a social listing process, that it addresses those concerns.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Concretely, because it may seem trendy too, but in fact, there is a real business issue behind it. We could say yes, today it's trendy to listen to what the customer says. You have to try to be where they are, but it's true that if you don't have a real objective at the beginning, it can be useless as they say. Maybe it won't do any good, you think.
Albane Flamant: Absolutely. And I also work in marketing so I'm part of, in terms of, the audience that my tool is aimed at... and for us, we realize that if a tool doesn't meet our business pre-qualifications, generally, we don't use it enough. So, the goal is not just to say we're going to gain followers on Twitter, on Instagram or even more social engagements. It's really saying OK, we're doing this because we want to improve, so the number, … That's it, in the long run, it's increasing the company’s revenue. Probably, it's growing or it's providing better customer service to our customers. And so, we're a company that measures a lot of things. It's your marketing team and all the tools that we use are there to address those concerns. And so, the question is how quickly did your team integrate that? And yeah, what's the answer to be able to do my job better, per se.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Great, what would be your concrete advice that you would give to our listeners today, right after this podcast? If you were to do something for your Social Listening, customer listening strategy? What would that be?
Albane Flamant: As I was saying earlier, it's spring, so it's time to do a big spring cleaning and audit your brand. Where do you stand and how and when do you monitor what is being said in relation to other brands already today? Is it manually on Google? Or is it with free alerts, for example? Which is not a bad thing, but how do you do it? What is the system you have in place to save what's about your brand and that doesn't mean it's necessarily going to be a paid system. What's in place and how is that information being managed in your company? I think that would be a great thing to do already. Make an action plan on how you can improve this really customer-centric approach.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: I think it was you who told me that when I asked about it, was it you who told me: yes, because at the end of the day, there is what the consumers say, but then there is what they actually do. Do they buy ? Do they not buy? I think it was you who talked to me about this differentiation. But if they don't buy, it's still interesting to know what they said or what they did?
Albane Flamant: Yes, we had sent this typically to the customer. So, there are people who say very, very thorough things. For example, when they will never buy brand X again, or they will unsubscribe from brand Z, for example because they don't want to use it anymore. But in fact, when we manage to connect what is concretely said on social networks or in customer emails, or in calls that are received by call centers with what is happening in terms of business, it allows us to reconcile a little bit and say well, in fact, it really has an impact. And it won't end there. All measurement is that in fact, it's connecting more volatile KPIs with what's actually happening in the business. So yes, I think there's often what people think, what they say and what they do. I think that's true for everyone. For me, in the area of my life and as a Business, yes, you try to find out what they want and what they do in practice. Now, there's a lot of people who, I don't know, they want to lose weight and they stick with it for a while, but at the end of the day, they might even buy chocolates, for example. That's a little bit of it. So, trying to reconcile those different channels, and that's true in a company as well. So, those who tell customer service what is said on social networks and those who tell the cashier in the supermarket, it's three different things, for example.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Yes, yes, absolutely. So maybe the conclusion is that being close to the customer is really something very important for each brand; each company must have its own objectives, choose obviously the actions to be taken according to its objectives and that socialism is one of the actions and that there are indeed, as you said, platforms not necessarily paying like Google Alerts, where there are already things that can be, that can already understand on their brands. So, we can go much further if the objectives are to go much further. So, do you think that might be a good conclusion or would you still have things to talk about?
Albane Flamant: No, it's a good conclusion, but I think that today, we are still in this leverage phase and that questions the business, that has made behaviors evolve a lot generally. So that's something we've seen in the last year. It's one, the rapid change in consumer behavior and two, the rapid transition of consumers online. A lot of the things that they're doing, we've seen very traditional retailers, by the way, go online for the first time and force them to go through this digital transformation process. And so, to me, something like Social Listening is really a pretty formidable weapon to listen to the pulse of the consumer on a daily basis. You have to react quickly based on what they want, what they think they want, and how. How do you make sure your business stays relevant at the end of the day?
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Absolutely, great. Well listen, I think we're going to have a lot of reactions to what you just said. I love the story of, if I could have seen at the time how if the brand was consumed on a beach, it could help me with the marketing campaigns, I would have found it really great. So, I think it's really quite powerful, everything you can do as you say. So, we didn't name any brands today because we can't. But it could be
Albane Flamant: Bah Talkwalker could potentially be shopped like that, you have it on the podcast.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Exactly, with Dgenious, there are complementarities, we know that. But listen, great Albane. Thank you very much. I'll obviously, in the video of this episode, put your LinkedIn link and Talkwalker's links. And there you go, I hope our listeners learned a little bit more about what Social Listening is. At least, maybe it'll get them to bring a little bit more importance, if they weren't already, to this topic. Anyway, thanks a lot.
Albane Flamant: Thanks to you, Gaëlle
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: See you soon!
Albane Flamant: See you soon, bye.
Gaëlle Helsmoortel: Thank you all for following this new episode of Dgenious, Let's Talk Retail. The full transcript of this interview. And from now on, it is available on our website dgenious.com in French, but also in English. And I'm also putting the direct link to this transcript in the bio of this episode. I look forward to seeing you in a couple of weeks for a new stamp and a new guest of Dgenious, Let's Talk Retail and until then to develop your business, Ciao.
I'm Gaëlle Helsmoortel, CEO of dgenious. I work every day with my team to enable retailers to boost their performance through quick and easy access to their data.
With Let's talk retail, I welcome my guests around specific and varied themes that will offer listeners the opportunity to take action in their own business immediately.
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