With the social landscape mapped out and promising areas of opportunity identified, we can now begin our deep dive into the social content itself.

The deep dive process combines manual research with the automated tools we discussed in part 2 to gather social discussions that seem relevant to the brand. Over time, our team can begin to formulate testable hypotheses from the patterns they’re seeing.

Patterns may include:

  • Competitor brand mentions
  • Unique words and terms
  • Attitudes and emotional states
  • Unmet needs and pain points

Often, patterns that turn up during the deep dive can be further assessed using automated tools. For example, a recent social landscape turned up evidence that a client’s brand was frequently discussed in conjunction with a competitor brand. Using a social media tool, we ran searches against these parameters and found significant quantitative validation for the hypothesis.

In another study, we were comparing a leading brand to a non­medical therapy. The brand team suspected that the non­medical therapy would be viewed negatively by patient audiences. However, we soon found a pattern of the non­medical therapy being discussed positively — particularly as an alternative treatment to pharmaceuticals. This was validated by a quantitative assessment. The assessment illustrated that additional patient education efforts might be required, particularly those that compared the treatment options available.

Deep dives lead to the most fruitful insights—and also expose you to the most significant pitfall. “We really have to watch out for something we call analysis paralysis,” says GTO data analyst Tim Schatz. “It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees—there’s so much data that it’s tempting to spend lots of time poring over the details, but the bigger picture doesn’t come together.” Adhering to the pattern­to­hypothesis structure is the key to keeping analysis focused and productive.

It can take several cycles of iterative hypothesis development and refinement to reach conclusions that we feel have been sufficiently validated, but these conclusions can be enormously impactful for clients. However, there’s one final step: distilling all of our work, and the supporting data, into an actionable and helpful findings report.

Stay tuned! We’ll explore the details of developing and presenting findings in the upcoming final installment of our Actionable Social Listening series.