Digital Listening and Understanding at Scale

User-generated content is a good source of data, if you know how to listen. But digital listening on an international scale includes challenges that cannot be ignored, especially in terms of cultural and linguistic effectiveness. In order to leverage the value of user-generated content, you need to leverage digital understanding. Above all, you should prepare yourself for challenges associated with framing, processing, and leveraging multilingual, multicultural, and multifunctional user-generated content.

An international digital listening approach needs to cover the level of resonance and the scope of reaction across markets. In addition to social networks, it is worth monitoring customer forums, unassisted support tutorials, online surveys, and niche micro-sites. Overlooking content generated and published in other relevant channels and properties is a pitfall. When you recognize the evolving and challenging trends in digital media, you need to complement what major social networks (do not) offer.

Digital listening and understanding are major challenges for global content strategists. You may want to think about some imperatives from the outset. First, be sure to interact with your audiences in their native language in order to be relevant on the channels and properties you are “listening” to. Language is part of the audience’s identity and influences their behavior. Simple, accurate, and memorable wording powers meaningful localization and is a must to keep your digital relationship with them inspiring and engaging.

Bear in mind that defensive design matters. You should bring forward features that increase intuitive and fluid experiences for local audiences. This includes buttons for content sharing or comment fields. Guiding and assisting people to avoid making mistakes takes their experience to the next level. Digital listening design must reflect the value you want to unleash from user-generated content.

Equally important, you should use data to calibrate digital listening efforts. Personas, insights, and metrics help you refine the way you listen to your target audiences both individually and collectively. By doing so, you not only improve design and maintenance, but you also put a framework in place that prompts them to provide you with valuable content. The more data you use, the more content you get and the more you can enrich your data.

Listening is only the first half of your journey. Understanding is the next step. Here, again, you cannot escape linguistic, cultural, and individual sensitivity. You must capture the voice of your audiences. In some cultures, a few words are worth a long speech, or an image replaces a short text. Tone of voice, sense of humor, and vocabulary nuances are varying factors as well. Therefore, you should consider user-generated content holistically, not only according to geocentric or language-specific standards.

Do not forget to convey the language of your audience. As they express themselves more naturally and directly in their native tongue, you must deal with a lot of content in a number of languages. Some level of automated translation is welcome for handling large volumes to translate content into your own language. Neural machine translation technology is going to be one of your best allies, with or without human post-editing. You can determine the level of automation and quality in light of your goals.

You should also turn global understanding into local customer intelligence. By properly collecting and analyzing user-generated content worldwide, you are in a good position to know your audiences in multiple markets better and to adjust content strategies as needed. This remains a crucial objective, as there is no global excellence without local experience in digital globalization. Finally, digital listening and understanding fit nicely in omnichannel journeys that have become the norm. Audiences can choose where to go to interact, and they expect you to use their information wisely.   

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