Recently, we sat down with Jennifer Knott, Research and Insights Executive at City Football Marketing to find out more about the role that social data plays in her work, her opinions on the social intelligence industry and where we can be doing more to develop industry practice.
Hi Jenn, can you please describe your role – what do you do?
I work in research and insights at City Football Group, we work with all the teams [first, women’s, youth] across City Football Group – Manchester City Football Club, New York City Football Club and Melbourne City Football Club.
My work focuses on understanding fans in the best way we can to ensure that their views are understood and listened to. We use various primary research techniques to do that – working with the fans to fully understand the problem or query and be in a position to create actionable recommendations which can inform decision-making and hopefully business growth.
Whereabouts do you sit in the organisation? Has this always been where your team sits? Who do you report to?
Our team acts as a market research agency for City Football Group. We are able to work closely with other departments on a range of different projects, which means we use a fairly big variety of research methods, and social data is becoming a big part of that.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
A good knowledge of social media and digital metrics and how to interpret these. You have to be able to take data and information and turn them into meaningful and compelling stories. Plus it helps to have a good knowledge of the industry – the global sports industry and the drivers of sports consumption and football interest.
You also need to have knowledge and experience of end-to-end qualitative and quantitative primary research. An ability to keep an open mind and understand the needs of commercial stakeholders. And, more generally, you really need to be a confident communicator, ability to multi-task and good attention to detail.
What do you use social data for? What’s the business use cases?
We use social media listening tools to analyse consumer behaviour attitudes to City Football Group and football in general. It’s important that we ensure that the information is communicated effectively and reflects how consumers think and behave.
We also use social listening in a reactive way, through measuring campaign launches, kit launches or football games. Our pro-active work focuses on gathering conversations about the relevant teams, with conversation volume, sentiment and the topics that drive the conversation. We continuously track, measure and analyse conversations about our teams as it allows us to get a sense of fan reaction as and when it happens without having the constraints of traditional research methods like survey and focus groups.
One of the things that I do regularly is maintain and produce tracking reports for our clubs. The report outlines the online share of voice, how this relates to competitors and highlights key topics of the conversation. This tracking report has been running for a while now and is getting good feedback from stakeholders.
What are the most useful social metrics or data points?
For me, the metrics that are the most well received are the volume of conversation and within that, the themes of this conversation. Let’s say we have some kind of club announcement, posts about or in reply to a certain topic help us understand how much impact it’s had. When possible, I also compare the analysis to the findings of past studies.
This helps to understand share of voice in comparison with other competitors, whether we’ve produced more buzz this time around, and how the discussion changes over time. The themes of conversation provide the context behind the findings. The conversational volume and theme analysis provides a pretty clear picture of the impact our announcement has had on social.
If I’m running a standalone project or a project that is used to support the findings of a survey or focus group on the same topic, I make sure the data points are reflective of the questions we are trying to answer.
What are your favourite tools to get the job done?
The only tool that I’ve used is Crimson Hexagon. My favourite tool is the dashboards function as it allows us to create an always on approach to social listening. I set up the right metrics and set-up the dashboard to update each day, so I don’t have to go in and manually analyse everything each day.
Tell us about your typical working day…
I work on multiple projects across multiple research methods – each day is different. It gives me experience of using different methods. There’s always something new to discover every day.
I do use social data quite heavily. Every month, I spend between 2 and 5 days preparing dashboards and reports for all the CFG teams. This includes geographic dashboards for each of our key markets.. These dashboards have become embedded into the wider organisation and I report on the first week of each month.
Online dashboards automatically update daily, and it gives stakeholders access to information for 28 days at a time. I then create an additional document to ‘timestamp’ the month gone by, It is a one-page simple analysis. Key themes are explored in a more insightful and digestible way. This provides a way of giving the insights up front without having to dig around.
What one thing do you wish you had just now to make your job easier?
I’d love the ability to discuss social media listening with people with jobs like mine. I’d like better visibility on using social data, reporting on it and picking up some hints and tricks to bring back to my own work. Although the work that I do seems to answer the right questions I work on the belief that this is always room for improvement.
I want to learn more and do my job better. Maybe different ways of sourcing and presenting information. Methodologies that I’ve never thought of before. I’m the only person working on social listening in my department and I’d love to be able to talk to other people who do this kind of work too.
How did you land your role, and where might you go from here?
I started at City Football Marketing as a research and insights intern after university where I studied history and politics. I didn’t come from a vocational degree, but my skills were transferable to this kind of work and I was ready to take on more responsibility.
Social listening has not been fully utilised to its full potential here yet and I want to be the person to do that. I taught myself how to navigate the tool and create insights. Now I own the role and it has become a key part of the role and my objectives. I love the work that I do here, and I’d like to progress in City Football Group to have a prominent role in the insights team.
Do you have any advice for the people who want to do a similar role to yourself?
To work in market research and with social data, they need to have a curiosity about people – how they think and feel. I’d advise on keeping up-to-date with the latest news and trends. Part of the role is to understand the bigger picture, understand the context behind the study, as this helps you to create insights and not just report on findings.
I think researchers need to be able to create a positive story and communicate it well – they need to be able to back themselves first, as confidence in your own work is important.
Connect with Jenn on LinkedIn or in The SI Lab community forum.
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