Marketing: Understanding Brand Perception Using Social Listening

Do you know what I really love? Haribo.

I love Haribo sweets so much. If my house was burning down, I’d grab my cat, my jewellery and my Haribo stash.

I love the sour ones. I love the sweet ones. I love all the weird different ones you get when you go to Germany.

I just cannot get enough of them, and I have been known to take to Twitter often to tell the world of my great love.

But I know at least three people who are clearly completely mental and can’t stand them. Cannot deal. They think chewy candy is a waste of calories.

I see Tweets pop up every now and again about how people dislike the foamy fried egg ones. Obviously this is sick and wrong, but each to their own.

The truth about brand perception

Now, if the marketing team at Haribo were to undertake a little social listening in order to try and understand how the public are perceiving their brand, they’d no doubt come across my many outpourings of affection, and I’m sure they’d be pleased about it.

But I am just one person in a sea of 500 million Tweets being sent per day – there’s an unbridled amount of potential insights available presenting how brands are being perceived online, that companies can use to truly understand how consumers feel about them.


The social web has transformed the way people communicate and share information. People make decisions based on so many more factors and influences – a Trip Advisor review here, a Tweet there – than previously, and so the consequences for brands are real and significant.

So how can brands harness this to their advantage, and really build a robust picture of their brand that reflects today’s reality?

Understand your brand

Thanks to the trackable nature of social networking sites and conversations, you can very quickly build a strong picture of your brand that reflects today’s reality.

There’s so very much out there that if you work intelligently you can gain some serious insights.


When you start monitoring social, ask poignant questions as often as possible. Questions like the below will help you grasp widely held perceptions of your brand.

  • What is your brand’s share of voice compared to competitors?
  • Does your share of voice vary over time/ across regions/different types of social media?
  • Which of your products is most talked about?
  • What is the overall sentiment towards your brand?
  • How does sentiment about your brand change over time?
  • What has caused spikes in conversation about your brand?
  • What are the top topics talked about in relation to your brand?
  • What do people like most about your brand or your products?

Some of these questions can and should be answered with evidence from multiple research methods.

Cross-referencing your findings is the surest way to gain a comprehensive and accurate understanding of what defines your brand.

Understanding the answers

With all of the data you’ve collected, you’ll be able to answer the above questions.

But no matter how tempting it is to simply isolate a few responses – take my Haribo posts above, for example – the real value of using social listening to gather such a large data set is in actually using it properly.


The data you pull and the answers you collect will impact the strategic direction of your brand – so analyze it deeply.

Using a social listening tool like Brandwatch Analytics you can segment and categorize your data to find patterns in many ways:

  • By mention-type: complaint, referral, sales lead, customer inquiry, review, etc.
  • By author-type: past/present or prospective customer, advocate, detractor, influencer, etc.
  • By customer-type: first-time buyer, long-standing customer, age, sex, location, etc.
  • By topic: customer service, product/service by name, product feature, etc.
  • By sentiment: positive, negative, neutral
  • By region: continent, country, state, etc.

The insights gained from the patterns that emerge should inform your entire brand strategy.


Imagine knowing which types of customers most frequently recommend your product or services to others, or recognizing the variations in sentiment surrounding your brand from country to country, or realizing the things that customers love and hate most about your products or services.

All of these truths make up the reality of your brand; the stronger the patterns, the more universal that perception.

It’s so very important for brands to continually measure how they are being perceived – the smarter they get at doing so, the better their results.