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In 2020, Fors Marsh Group (FMG) identified the power of social listening and launched an innovative new practice area that merges the power of applied research with digital consumer intelligence. This capability bolsters our market research efforts to understand the public’s needs while complementing traditional formative research methods, like focus groups and surveys, with rich insights from social and digital platforms.

What is Social Listening?

social listeningSocial listening is the process of monitoring conversations, mentions, and trending content on social media platforms and the internet in real time, using tools that incorporate sophisticated algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to locate online conversations on any topic of interest.

FMG offers social listening in-house to its consultants and subject matter experts to add a new perspective to achieve their clients’ objectives. Our resident social listening experts have access to the most advanced tools on the market to develop keyword queries and visually engaging dashboards to deliver insights at the ready.

Some History

Social listening has been around for more than a decade; in fact, major brands like Coca-Cola, Bank of America, and United Airlines have long used the power of social listening to monitor and mitigate consumer issues. Social listening is growing in use as a research tool among smaller companies as market intelligence in the digital era progresses into complex metrics and quantitative analyses. This practice has emerged as an essential component of risk communication and market research and can be used to inform strategic engagement strategies, evaluate campaigns, optimize marketing activations, and more. Social listening puts business owners in the middle of consumer conversations so that they can directly view issues through the consumer experience; it offers a more in-depth approach to understanding your audience and analyzing consumer behavior.

Social Listening in Action: DC’s 2020 Voting Experience

online communicationFMG’s Elections Research team is using social listening capabilities to assist the Office of the DC Auditor (ODCA) with understanding Washington, DC’s election administration performance in 2020. The social listening team is using a variety of analytical methods to assess how well the District served its voters and taxpayers in the 2020 election cycle.

Specifically, the social listening team is helping ODCA understand District voters’ experiences with voting by mail. The challenges associated with the COVID-19 global pandemic caused the Board of Elections to shift to a primarily vote-by-mail system in the general election. We are taking a multi-methodological approach that incorporates social listening tactics to review DC residents’ posts and engagement on social media to determine whether they experienced technical or logistical issues resulting from the shift to voting by mail when voting on Election Day.

“Social listening allows us to get unfiltered opinions from voters and other stakeholders without relying exclusively on surveys or focus groups,” says Doug Chapin, FMG’s director of Policy Analysis and an Elections Team leader. “By tuning in to social media, we can get a voter’s-eye view of what works and what needs improvement in the District’s elections process.”

Social listening will allow FMG to capture posts from DC voters, election workers, and other stakeholders, both citywide and at the Ward level, to measure the District’s performance across each phase of the election process. FMG will also be able to benchmark and evaluate DC’s performance against jurisdictions nationally. Our analysis will provide ODCA with recommendations and best practices rooted in empirical evidence for how the District might improve its electoral process in the future and emerge as a nationwide leader in executing future elections.

About the author

Marina Anwuri

Marina Anwuri

As the Social Listening Insights manager at Fors Marsh Group (FMG), Marina leads the Social Listening Lab, a center of innovation that leverages social listening and market intelligence to provide timely insights across practice areas within FMG for a diverse array of clientele. The Social Listening Lab provides monitoring, segmentation, audience analysis, influencer identification, and reverse engineering of marketing tactics including SEO, SEM, and traditional and digital media. These activities ultimately support market research and inform and evaluate communications and policy design. Before joining FMG, Marina led a 5-year social media monitoring contract supporting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) public health risk communications strategies. Ms. Anwuri has over 12 years of experience in public health and health communications and is an expert in social listening and market intelligence. 

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