Social media platforms are an important arena for consumers to talk about brands impacting their lives. That’s why Haleon assembled an in-house team to own social media for its many over-the-counter products.
Haleon was formed last year from a joint venture between GSK and Pfizer’s consumer products business, which includes Advil, Excedrin, Robitussin, Tums and other household brands.
The company assembled an in-house team to leverage social media intelligence, or “social intelligence” — tools and strategies to understand what customers are saying about brands and how that information can be used to increase marketing efforts.
Digging Deeper: Social Media Marketing Guide for Brands
First, Haleon needed to define social media intelligence. It can have different meanings in different organizations, so it is important for every company to establish goals and benefits derived from social intelligence operations.
“Social intelligence is pulling in all these different sources of data and really trying to figure out what that data is actually going to do and what [it] tell us,” said Danny Gardner, Analytics Manager US and North America Social Intelligence Lead for Haleon, at the MarTech Conference.
Gardner and his team view social intelligence as a more sophisticated version of social media monitoring and listening. Rather than just tracking various topics that consumers are talking about on social platforms, social intelligence pulls insights from this data and links the insights to marketing actions.
“Why does the company want social intelligence?” asked Gardner. “At its core, it is about knowledge. We can act on that data and uncover insights faster than any other team in the company.”
Brands that collect social intelligence have access to consumer opinions about their own products and also about the competition. They also get feedback on marketing campaigns and can learn more about their target audience.
Another benefit of social media intelligence is finding out where consumers say they buy products. For Haleon, knowing whether customers are talking about buying Advil from a Costco or an online retailer helps the company develop an e-commerce strategy.
When consumers are speaking negatively about a brand on social media, knowing about it can help the brand implement a crisis management strategy, Gardner said.
Four social media intelligence categories
Social media is a massive space, and smart listening means having clear categories, or “buckets,” for the data.
Gardner and his team set up four main data collections that they wanted to collect across social channels. They wanted to analyze social conversions and gain insights related to their own brand portfolio, competitor brands, broader issues related to the use of those products, and “macroeconomic and cultural” trends.
“There are many trends that are going on and things that are happening in society that we have recognized are making our consumers value our brands much more, and rightly so,” Gardner said. “And so, years ago, we took it upon ourselves to incorporate this into our area of responsibility.”
Building and scaling social media
Although Haleon didn’t go live as an organization until 2022, its marketing strategy, including its approach to social intelligence, was years in the making.
Here’s a timeline of the steps they took to implement social intelligence tools and strategies.
“There was this big discovery phase of what data is available, how we can access it, what data mining looks like, what vendors are out there and what their capabilities are,” Gardner explained. “Actually it wasn’t a couple of years before I was hired that they started building the case, hey, we actually think we could do this in-house.”
Haleon also discussed the pros and cons of building versus buying their solution and ultimately settled on a suite of social intelligence tools developed by Meltwater.
Piloting social media intelligence during the pandemic
Just when Haleon was ready to test some of his social media intelligence skills, the world changed. In the early years of the COVID-19 pandemic, many consumers increasingly used digital channels to buy products and educate themselves.
“We came out of our 12-month pilot and at the end of the tunnel was COVID-19,” Gardner said. “And that definitely accelerated demand and interest in what social listening is and really catapulted us into the spotlight…Social media was kind of a go-to place for questions [consumers] had no answers on.”
He added, “So at the time, that actually inspired this macro trending feature, and we now know we’re pretty good at doing that around our brands.”
As a result, Haleon has a better understanding of how consumers feel about their brand listing. And they can engage in conversations on larger issues in a way that is relevant to their customers.
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