What is social media listening?
Social listening is all about knowing where you are in the market full chain and how your direct customers perceive you, all the while staying vigilant and adapting to changes in your industry. No marketing strategy is fully complete with social listening as it removes the guesswork from your messaging, product development and positioning.
In today’s climate, there’s no room for error. There’s no time to act upon every idea and see what connects with your target audience. Social listening is an on-going process, where you lay your ear on the ground and truly listen to what conversations are happening all around you.
When we talk about social media listening, we must draw a line between listening and social media monitoring. The two terms are somewhat used interchangeably, but refer to two different processes altogether. People confuse listening with social monitoring, which is the process of looking at your social interactions in tagged posts, comments, engagement numbers and replies.
Social listening is about looking at broader conversations happening in your industry and amongst your core audience. These don’t pop up by looking at your account. You use either a listening tool like SocialSprout or a well-rounded RSS feed reader like Inoreader to collect qualitative data for your research.
Why should you care?
Social listening shortens the path to your brand’s full potential in terms of public reputation. The analysis and insights social listening provides gives you answers to crucial questions, upon which the survival of any brand depends:
- What stops my campaign from hitting the ground running?
- What value do customers get from my products?
- Where is there room to grow in how I message and market my products?
- Why do people see my brand the way they do?
That’s how you sell products. You step back and see the bigger picture. Knowing where you are helps you achieve whatever you want – a bigger market share, positive brand reception, customer engagement or spike in product sales.
All you need is the right tool and the right keywords to monitor!
How to use it?
Keep track of the competition
It’s common sense to observe your competitors. After all, they’re fighting to earn a greater share in your market. Anything they do or say is a lesson to be learned without having to experience the sting of failure or expend any resources for a risky idea. You can’t learn without paying attention.
Yes, each brand has its own strengths that attract a type of customer, but the Venn diagram of your and their customers is large enough to warrant your attention. Over time you will learn what will likely work for you or your audience at that moment in time.
Better customer service
Customer service makes or breaks trust in your company and your products. It’s as important as whatever it is you’re trying to sell. Feedback will come to you on your social media accounts and your email, but there are a lot of negative reviews, complaints and conversations where you’re not tagged. Missing out on those unfiltered opinions hurts your overall prestige as a brand and removes your ability to satisfy customers.
Social listening pays attention to disgruntled customers. Once you find them, it’s important to then reach out and remedy the situation as best as you can. Strong customer service is its own feature as it promotes your company as a trustworthy brand. Happy customers are loyal customers and loyal customers make repeat purchases. Remember it’s much easier for the customer to stay with a company they know will handle any problem than search for a new company that’s better on all accounts.
Loyal customers don’t hesitate in making recommendations to their family, friends and coworkers. At the very least, you don’t want to be mentioned as a brand to avoid. Word of mouth works in both directions, so you want to be remembered well. When positive, it provides organic growth at no further expense. There’s little way to make a purchase, because the testimonial does most of the heavy lifting.
Identify areas for improvement
The feedback you glean is also a valuable resource when you want to improve your product or service and should be integral in the R&D process. You already have practical information on what can be a lot better and what you should best leave alone altogether.
Campaign analysis ranks as one of the most useful applications of social listening. Listening to the general response to a campaign as well as monitoring the metrics (DMs, shares, comments, visits to your site) creates a benchmark for the future. Sales leads and conversions are only a base gauge for success. Sheer numerical metrics are useful to an extent, but tell only a part of the story.
Manage your online presence
Perhaps the biggest benefit of social media listening is the synergy it creates between your content output, social media management and overall market strategy. Even though closely related, these branches can shoot off into different directions that minimize their effectiveness overall. It’s like the body does not know what each hand is doing. Nothing really gets accomplished in the long run.
The overall cumulative effect goes beyond generating sales leads and locating new opportunities. It leads to cohesive strategies and a much stronger brand reputation. At the end of the day, it all comes down to reputation. Brands can survive a lot longer on fewer resources at their disposal with the right reputation.
You’ve created a loyal customer base thanks to stronger customer support, better targeting, deeper understanding of your customers and more precise messaging. These customers stay by you and help your company grow at a healthy rate. A common tip given to newlyweds on how to make their marriage last is to listen to each other. The very same applies to your relationship with your customers. Listen.
In time you’ll reap the benefits time and time again.