Inattentional Consumer: Part 4

Harnessing Social Media and AI for Market Insights:

A 2024 Perspective

We live in a digital age, the immense power of social media is undeniable. With a staggering 5.04 billion users worldwide in 2024, social media platforms offer unparalleled access to real-time insights from nearly two thirds of the global population. This vast and diverse digital landscape presents a goldmine of opportunities for businesses keen on leveraging market research through social listening. The integration of advanced technologies like AI and tools such as ChatGPT further enhances the ability to decode the complexities of consumer behaviour, providing businesses with a competitive edge in crafting data-driven strategies.

The Rise of Social Listening in Market Research

Social listening, the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, products, and more, has become a crucial part of market research. It allows businesses to tap into the spontaneous and unsolicited opinions of consumers, offering a raw and unfiltered view of public perception. This real-time monitoring can unearth trends, gauge sentiment, and identify emerging needs or pain points that might not be captured through traditional research methods.

woman holding her hand up in a listening motion, with a yellow background

Maximising Insights from Social Media

Getting the best out of social listening comes with a strategic approach by a business. Here are some ways to maximise the impact of social listening:

  • Identify Relevant Conversations: Use targeted keywords, hashtags, and phrases related to your industry, brand, and competitors to filter the vast amount of data available on social media. This helps in focusing on the conversations that are most relevant to your business.
  • Engage with Your Audience: Social listening is not just about gathering data; it’s also an opportunity to engage with your audience. Responding to feedback, addressing concerns, and participating in conversations can enhance brand perception and loyalty.


  • Leverage AI and ChatGPT: Tools like ChatGPT can analyse large volumes of social media data quickly and efficiently, identifying patterns, sentiments, and key insights that would be challenging to discern manually. This can significantly speed up the decision-making process and ensure strategies are informed by the latest trends and consumer sentiments.

Market researchers have always been adept at bringing together multiple data sources and it can be argued that AI and natural language models present an opportunity to researchers. It is likely that successful insight professionals will be skilled prompt engineers.

The Benefits of Integrating AI

The integration of AI technologies in social media analysis offers several benefits:

  • Accuracy: By utilising natural language processing (NLP), AI tools can understand context, sarcasm, and sentiment more accurately, leading to more nuanced insights. AI is by no means perfect but then neither are humans.


  • Scalability: AI can process data at a scale unattainable by human analysts, allowing businesses to analyse global conversations in real-time.
  • Predictive Analysis: AI can identify patterns and predict trends, helping businesses stay ahead of the curve by anticipating market shifts and consumer needs.

Concerns of Integrating AI

The synergy between social media and artificial intelligence (AI) brings forth a multitude of concerns and challenges, spanning ethical, social, psychological, and technological dimensions. Here are some of the key concerns:

  • Privacy and Data Security: AI algorithms require vast amounts of data to learn and make predictions. Social media platforms are rich sources of personal data, raising concerns about user privacy and the potential for data misuse. There’s understandable worry about how this data is collected, stored, and used, and we do not yet fully understand the risks of data breaches.
  • Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles:  Content recommendation systems that are driven by AI on social media platforms often show users content that aligns with their existing beliefs and interests. While this can enhance user engagement, it also risks creating echo chambers and filter bubbles, where users are insulated from diverse viewpoints, potentially exacerbating social polarisation and misinformation.


  • Misinformation and Fake News: The worrying use of AI in generating and spreading fake news and misinformation is a significant concern. AI technologies like deepfakes can create convincing but entirely fabricated images, videos, and audio recordings, making it increasingly difficult if not impossible to distinguish between what is real and what is fake.
  • Bias and Discrimination: AI systems inherit and amplify biases present in their training data. On social media platforms, this can lead to discriminatory practices, such as unequal representation of minority groups, biased content recommendation, and unfair censorship.
Man and woman holding up a laptop and looking at the screen


As social media continues to evolve, so too does the landscape of market research. The integration of social listening with AI and tools like ChatGPT are likely to represent a significant advance in how businesses can gather and analyse consumer insights. By adopting a strategic approach to social media and leveraging the latest technologies, businesses can uncover valuable insights that inform strategies, drive innovation, and ultimately, achieve a competitive advantage in the digital marketplace. We must however address concerns about AI. This will require a multi-faceted approach involving ethical AI development practices, transparent and responsible data use, regulatory oversight, and the active involvement of all stakeholders, including tech companies, regulators, users, and civil society.


By Duncan Smith

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