Social media is a two-way street. Rather than just posting relevant, engaging content, you also have to listen. Enter social listening.
In the simplest sense, social listening is essentially audience research. You monitor your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback, mentions of your brand and discussions surrounding specific keywords, topics, competitors or industries that are relevant to your brand.
Social listening is a two-part process. You have the monitoring on the front end, but then you dive deeper with analysis and actionable responses. There’s an engagement there, but also the goal to implement long-term strategy changes based on what you’re learning.
In other words, your brand is aiming to meet the needs of your customers by listening to and engaging with them (but also tracking and analyzing all that information).
While answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by about 25 percent, only about 51 percent of brands use social monitoring or listening in any capacity. In fact, about 71 percent of social media marketers say that they are able to provide consumer insights from social media channels to other departments.
Plus, about 46 percent of consumers think that brands engaging with their audiences on social media makes them stand out above all other brands.
By implementing effective social listening into your overall digital marketing strategy, you will:
- Engage with your customers and target audience more effectively.
- Discover more and better leads.
- Learn more about your customers’ needs and problems (that you can help solve).
- Identify potential brand partners and influencers.
- Better track your competition.
The following are nine tips to improve your brand’s social listening and gain beneficial customer insights.
Decide what you’re listening to
This sounds a bit simplistic but truly is important to figure out before you dive into social listening. Social media is vast and noisy. You have to focus.
From these ideas, determine what specifically you’ll be looking for:
- Direct mentions of your brand. Are there any variations that could be used?
- Your brand’s social media handle. Include any sub-accounts as well.
- Any specific product (or even service) names.
- Specific hashtags.
- Relevant-to-your-brand keywords.
- Names of key people in your company (such as your CEO or anyone public-facing).
- Topics that relate to your brand.
- Your competition (which should include the same breakdown as your doing for your own brand).
This will help you get started in a more efficient manner so that you can gain more consistent and relevant insights over time.
Look beyond your immediate social media presence
While we wish all conversations about our brands could happen on our posts, through direct mentions or in our incoming messages, that’s simply not the case. Think beyond all of that.
You want to keep in mind that social media users won’t always tag you, that they could misspell your brand name or even use an abbreviation or shortened version of your brand name (Coke, for example, rather than Coca-Cola).
Be strategic about keywords and topics
Definitely put time and research into the keywords and topics you ultimately track and follow. They will evolve over time, of course. But investing in picking the most relevant ones now will only give you better data and insights along the way.
Check out these 11 free keyword research tools that can help you in this process.
Use social listening to identify pain points
If you’re mostly using social listening to understand what your customers are saying about you, you’re missing a larger opportunity. That is to identify the problems and challenges that your target audience is experiencing.
This likely won’t come up because of a brand mention, but rather relevant keywords. Either way, it’s important to understand the bigger picture as far as the potential gaps in your industry or product.
Once you understand the gap, then you can work on the bridge that will make you the best brand for them.
Join in on conversations about the latest trends and news
Obviously, you want to monitor and track all the relevant conversations going on in your industry but go beyond that.
This is a great engagement opportunity that shows the relevancy of your brand. By offering a slice of your expertise where relevant, you easily can reach new users, grow brand trust and loyalty and even discover a new brand partner along the way.
Use empathy when engaging in a new conversation
Keep in mind that while engagement is key in any successful social listening strategy, users might not expect you to join in on their conversation, particularly if they didn’t tag you.
But regardless of whether you’re tagged or not (expected or not), you must empathize. Is the sentiment of the conversation positive or negative?
If it’s positive, thank them and make sure you understand the specifics surrounding their positive impression. If it’s negative, still thank them, but you’ll especially want to dig deeper into what led to the negative impression. Was it a specific feature of your product (or service)? See our 11 tips for best responding to any type of negative review.
Remember that the key to social listening is actually listening. Leave your personal feelings aside. You’re arriving at the conversation to better understand and help if possible.
Prompt responsiveness is everything
Staying on top of your social listening means that you can be proactive and get ahead of any negative sentiments before they escalate. (You’re not waiting for someone to finally reach out to you if they do at all.)
If at all possible, aim to respond within 30 minutes or at least within 24 hours. Make sure you’re responding to everyone equally (not just the positive comments, for example).
Keep an eye on your competitors
Social listening can help you better understand what’s working (and not working) for your competitors.
When you see something that’s working, what can your brand do to outperform them? Don’t just copy them. Think about how you can do something that’s better and more valuable to your target audience.
And when you see something that’s not working, determine how you can fill that gap for potential customers.
Use the right tools
The power of your social listening often comes down to using the right tools. Most major social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) do have built-in features that include search functionality, audience insights data and trending data.
However, a third-party tool might be ideal if you’re using multiple social media platforms so that everything can be found in one place, may offer more detailed insights and can even provide some automation capabilities. Some examples include:
Social listening can be powerful for your brand when done right. Start simple by identifying the mentions, keywords and so on that are most important to you. Track your insights, and make sure they are communicated to the appropriate departments in your company.
In this new-ish digital-focused world, you’re often only as strong as your understanding of your customers.
Learn about the difference between social listening and crowdsourcing.
As you’re diving into social listening, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.