Interview with Prerna Pant, General Manager at Circus Social, a social listening and analysis company based in Singapore
Hi Prerna, what is your background and what is included in your current role at Circus Social?
You could describe me as a storyteller; I started telling stories for brands very early in my career – and I have continued to do so till today. I’m a Co-Founder and General Manager at Circus Social. My role includes business development, operations, marketing and client management – and spans across all our products and offerings.
What differs Circus Social from other media intelligence companies in APAC?
To start with – we’re a company that was built ground up by marketers, for marketers. Too often we find that solutions are made for marketers by those who have not walked in those shoes before – and we wanted to change that. Secondly, we’re an Asia-first martech company. We were born and bred in Asia – meaning that we specialize in the APAC region in terms of language, sentiment, source and local coverage throughout the region, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Korea and more, and have a local grasp on culture and online behavior.
What are your greatest challenges ahead at Circus Social when it comes to serving your customer analysis and developing your offer?
I think we face many of the same challenges that our competitors face in terms of data access, features and innovation. But personally – I believe the biggest challenge for us lies in increasing access to the world of digital intelligence – and taking it from the marketers’ ecosystem to the entire organization.
If any, what specific needs are there in your region for media intelligence that you think may differ from the rest of the world?
The greatest one is localization; this goes far beyond just language and platforms. The way in which consumers share product reviews on Pantip in Thailand is massively different from how Koreans behave on Naver, and it is the job of digital intelligence companies to identify and capitalize on this for our clients.
Do you find the region diverse in the sense that it is challenging to offer comprehensive products and services throughout the region? If so, in what way?
Each market comes with its own challenges, but I think that’s what makes it more exciting to work in this region. We have to keep learning, keep innovating and continue to challenge the status quo in each market. The initial entry into each market is typically the one we have to get right first, and once the foundation has been laid, it’s essential that we don’t drop the ball and continue to offer solutions that match the needs and nuances of each market.
Can you provide a specific example where one (or more) of your clients has made changes based on the insights or analysis you provided them?
There are many capabilities that our platform, 20/Twenty, provides, ranging from crisis monitoring and campaign tracking, to consumer behavior and insights. I’ve found that getting that right from the very beginning and being a partner to your clients instead of being a service provider is what makes that difference.
We’ve worked with automobile brands that found that crisis situations were growing differently on social platforms vs. media sources – identified through custom features on 20/Twenty that allow you to track trending content by source type, spikes in conversations and specialized data tagging – and hence, they could easily measure actions and address problems once discovering this.
In a completely different setting, we helped an Asian supermarket understand why ‘mommy shoppers’ were declining rapidly through social listening on parenting forums and review sites. The main reason was that the width of the aisles in their grocery stores was too narrow to fit a pram – and hence aggravated mothers were dissuading others from shopping at their outlets.
The applications are obviously endless – it’s about getting to the insights quickly and more effectively.
Have you recently, or are you about to, release any new technology-based solutions that will add on to or improve services you offer your clients? If so, what solutions, and how will your customers benefit from them?
We have a lot of exciting features from a tech standpoint that will position us to be the leaders in viral content predictability and influencer identification. These are based on client requests and feedback, as is much of our tech roadmap.
When it comes to licensing content for media monitoring in your region, which countries are the most progressive and which are lagging behind?
Although we see this changing rapidly, markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia are certainly more comfortable and advanced with licensing data properly. This is feeding into other markets, such as Myanmar and Vietnam very quickly, and with early adopters setting the standard that new markets can follow.
Which social platforms are the most important to your clients, and which ones do you see as having the most potential in the future when it comes to gathering relevant information for your customers?
The importance of platforms changes by client, use case and industry; however, I also truly believe that you can’t ignore any of them today as conversations and people are very interlinked. For example, if your use case is reputation management – you must realize that a crisis can break anywhere, anytime. Similarly, I also always tell my clients that campaign periods aren’t the only time that consumers talk about you – it’s important to be ‘always on.’
When it comes to the actual data behind the media intelligence you do, what kind of data or media that you don’t currently use for media intelligence today, can be interesting in the future?
Expanding on image and video recognition and applying that to a variety of platforms is certainly interesting for us. We also see great potential in audience segmentation and predictive technology.
By Renata Ilitsky