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How to Use Social Listening to Drive Business Insights At Your Organization [Interview with David Sager from FOX Networks]

How to Use Social Listening to Drive Business Insights At Your Organization [Interview with David Sager from FOX Networks]

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How to Use Social Listening to Drive Business Insights At Your Organization [Interview with David Sager from FOX Networks]

One of my first jobs out of college was as a Social Media Marketing Specialist at a small digital marketing agency in Davenport, Iowa.

My responsibilities primarily revolved around scheduling clients’ organic social posts on HootSuite, creating engagement contests/campaigns, and running paid ads on Facebook.

After about a year of working at this agency, I naively thought that I had learned all there was to know about social media marketing (23 year olds am I right?)–and I was ready to move on and get experience within a different niche of digital marketing.

What I didn’t realize back then is that the scope of social media marketing is way more diverse than what I described above… Just ask David Sager, an Associate Director of Social Media at FOX Networks Group.

What I didn’t realize back then is that the scope of social media marketing is way more diverse than what I described above… Just ask David Sager, an Associate Director of Social Media at FOX Networks Group.

When I first met Sager last fall (we were desk mates over at Fox Plaza in Los Angeles before quarantine was thing), he introduced himself to me along with his title: Associate Director of Social Media.

Here’s how the conversation went down (more or less):

Me:

“Cool! So you schedule daily posts for FOX Networks’ social media accounts?”

David:

Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. BUT– I had indeed inadvertently committed one of Sager’s professional pet peeves: overgeneralizing the social media marketing niche. Fortunately, he was quick to forgive my naiveté–and told me all about his team’s specialization of “social listening”.

While rolling his shoulder out with a tennis ball against the wall (David if you’re reading this, I hope your PT is helping!), Sager walked me through how his team uses social listening to inform various facets of the business–including marketing team decisions, facilitating show development, talent acquisition, and competitive benchmarking. Thoroughly impressed, I eventually got him to agree to be interviewed for my blog. 🙂

Sager walked me through how his team uses social listening to inform various facets of the business–including marketing team decisions, facilitating show development, talent acquisition, and competitive benchmarking.

Read on to learn more about how David’s team uses social listening to inform top-level business decisions within various departments of an organization–including specific tips and examples from Sager’s team’s work!



But First, What Is Social Listening?

Social listening is as a ‘three-part process’ that refers to the monitoring, data collection, and analysis of an organization’s reputation/perception across social media platforms. Including:

  • What type of content is engaged with and shared most frequently
  • Who and what target audiences talk about the most (both positively and negatively)
  • Emotions and sentiments that target audiences have about a company’s products and services.

“Every company is starving for feedback, and almost everyone is on social media. Whether everyone is talking about you is a different question.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks

Armed with this data, social analysts then package and apply it in a way that’s useful for the stakeholders. The analysis can be about the company’s own brand, competitor brands, or across an industry.



Example 1: Informing Marketing Team Decisions

Social listening can help guide marketing team decisions by detailing the sentiments and emotions people have about various aspects of a product. Take for example, the FOX TV show Lego Masters.

“If the social team understands that people really like say, Lego Masters, because of a certain character, or the host, or how awesome the builds are, but the marketing isn’t focusing that [in its promotions] that’s a missed opportunity.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks
Visualization tools help the social analytics team at FOX understand the top sentiments and emotions people have about a particular show – such as Lego Masters.


Example 2: Facilitating Show Development

By performing social listening, you are better equipped to create the kind of content your fans actually enjoy.

When applied to show development, this means that social teams can show stakeholders data driven insights about what users like best about a program.

Social listening really helps higher-level content building. Maybe people are really liking these characters on a FOX show, or these voice actors, or this style… We can start to tweak the show a little bit or even to help vet hosts or contestants for the next season.

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks
Example of how social analytics can inform what cast/characters people like most about a particular show over time.


Example 3: Talent Acquisition

One of the newer ways that the Social Listening team has helped FOX Networks is with acquiring new talent. This is particularly true with Fox Sports, as they build out their TV / Sports commentary staff. 

To do this, the Social Listening team scrapes social data in order to find sports influencers that haven’t yet been tapped by ESPN or Barstool, etc.

The team looks at data points–such as how many followers the influencer has, how many times a week they’re talked about on average, how well their engagement rate is on Twitter, and how quickly their following has gone up or down in the last year–and adds it to their running index. These influencers include big names such as Skip Bayless, Shannon Sharpe, Jay Glazer, and more.



“Without social data, [upper execs] really only have hunches to go on who’s big and who’s relevant right now.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks

Sager explains that without this data, upper execs really only have hunches to go off of on who’s sort of big and who’s irrelevant right now.

Me:

“That’s really cool.”

David:
“Data, man data, yeah.”



Example 4: Competitor Benchmarking

The last lever that social listening can really pull in order to get business insights is competitor benchmarking.

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An example that Sager gives is with FOX’s animated TV series:

“If you’re looking at a show–such as Bob’s Burgers or Family Guy–we look for mentions how many people on social media mentioned us, and compare that to a competitor’s animated show… like Netflix or Hulu. Then, you can start to benchmark [how your content is performing competitively speaking] over time. You can even compare it to Nielsen ratings.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks

This type of information can be shared cross-functionally throughout the company to make improvements in the areas that competitors are succeeding most.



Screenshot of FOX’s #familyguy Twitter results
Screenshot of Netflix’s #bigmouth Twitter results

Rapid Fire Questions:

Me: “What are your favorite social listening tools?”

David: “There’s a million different tools that do this, but they’re really only a handful to do it really well the to do that. At FOX, we use Netbase and TalkWalker. They offer cool, advanced visualizations.

I also use R programming sometimes, which is a general data tool not specific to social media… Many social media analysts don’t know how to use it, however, it’s helpful if you do.”

“There’s a million different tools that do this, but they’re really only a handful to do it really well the to do that. At FOX, we use Netbase and TalkWalker. They offer cool, advanced visualizations. I also use R programming sometimes, which is a general data tool not specific to social media… Many social media analysts don’t know how to use it, however, it’s helpful if you do.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks


Me: “What’s one of the big mistakes that people make with social analytics data?”

David: “The biggest one for me is that they put too much emphasis on it. Social media is skewed; is a sub-section of the population. It’s the more vocal people. It skews liberal, it skews male, especially on Twitter. Facebook skews older, Reddit skews toward the niche gamer. So, if you don’t take into account these biases, you might end up with the wrong insight.”

“The biggest one for me is that they put too much emphasis on it. Social media is skewed; is a sub-section of the population. It’s the more vocal people. It skews liberal, it skews male, especially on Twitter. Facebook skews older, Reddit skews toward the niche gamer. So, if you don’t take into account these biases, you might end up with the wrong insight.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks


Me: “How into social media are you in your every day life?”

David: “People always think that that because of my job, I must be really good at social media. Which, I’ve posted on Instagram 3 times ever. I’ve posted on Facebook maybe five times in my entire life since being out of high school. I’ve never tweeted. I’m just I’m not on social media… and I think that’s true for a lot of social analysts. I think we just like are on it so much that we just don’t do it after after the 9 to 5.”

“People always think that that because of my job, I must be really good at social media. Which, I’ve posted on Instagram 3 times ever. I’ve posted on Facebook maybe five times in my entire life since being out of high school. I’ve never tweeted. I’m just I’m not on social media… and I think that’s true for a lot of social analysts. I think we just like are on it so much that we just don’t do it after after the 9 to 5.”

David Sager, Associate Director of Social Analytics at FOX Networks


Wrapping Up:

Scheduling tweets and running Facebook ads are without question very important elements of social media marketing. However, they are not the only way that businesses can use social platforms to improve performance. A niche within the social media marketing niche, Social Listening focuses on the monitoring, data collection, and analysis of an organization’s reputation/perception across social media platforms.

At FOX Networks, Sager and his team uses social listening data to help inform various aspects of business–including marketing team decisions, facilitating show development, talent acquisition, and competitive benchmarking.

Readers, I hope you’ve found this post insightful, and perhaps picked up some fresh ideas on how to gain new insights on how to use social to improve the performance of your/clients business.

Have a follow up question for me of Sager? Drop them in the comments.

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