Similar to social media monitoring, social listening is the process of identifying and responding to what is being said online about a brand, product or company. However, it goes beyond monitoring into a consequent analysis of that information in hopes of extrapolating insights to help direct a course of action. Social listening tracks digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about specific phrases, keywords, topics, and brands, then analyzes the context of those conversations and helps you integrate what is learned into your organization’s social media strategy.
The practice provides you a bird’s eye view of your business so you avoid getting trapped in only responding to individual situations when you should also be looking for and understanding the trends, the big picture. It focuses on the mood behind people’s social media posts and on how they feel about your brand and industry in general.
Brand health. Social listening allows organizations to evaluate public feedback and then prioritize their response. Feedback can be used to tweak content, products, and services to better meet consumer needs and wants instead of working from organizationally based assumptions. In addition to examining social mentions and interactions, by viewing others’ posts, hashtags, and shares, you can gain a better understanding of the content being viewed by the people who follow and mention you. This information can guide your own content creation to increase the chances of them interacting with your brand.
Customer engagement. Social listening assists you in creating an interactive online community. Consumers appreciate when a brand responds to questions, comments, or reviews. Thoughtfully crafted responses let you engage customers in online conversations that will help increase retention rates and build brand loyalty. Social listening is an excellent tool to keep in your customer experience toolbox.
Uncover pain points. Use the practice of social listening as a quality control tool to monitor and respond to any negative social media mentions regarding service, products, etc. Determine whether there is a trend toward negative feedback that needs to be addressed or simply a few, disgruntled people. Multiple customers complaining about the same issue or asking for the same change is a sign that your brand should look into the situation and come up with a response. Grumpy Gertrude wanting a different shade of Hunter Green sweater might not require the same type of reply.
Product strategy. That being said, product decisions can benefit from social listening. See what consumers are saying about their favorite or most disliked product features, which new products or services they would like to see, or their overall feedback on specific products that are either selling out or collecting dust. Whether prompted by your brand or organic in nature, customer comments can effectively inform your product strategy.
Inspiration. Social listening does not necessarily provide insight into the impact of your marketing programs but the learnings obtained through social listening can help generate ideas for future campaigns. Identifying trends in your interactions with customers is an effective way to brainstorm new marketing strategies. Stay in tune with trending topics in your industry as well for more insights.
Determine what you should listen for. Your list of topics, keywords, and phrases will change over time as you learn what people are saying and the words they are using in those conversations. It is also a good idea to monitor any common misspellings and abbreviations you become aware of in the process. Here are some important ideas to start your list:
Brand name, slogan, handles, and hashtags
Campaign names and keywords
Names of key players in your organization
All of the above – but for your competitors
Industry buzzwords and hashtags
Understand where people are talking about your brand and your industry. Understand how the conversations differ depending on which platform they take place. Use that information to create both organic and paid engagement opportunities.
Utilize social listening tools (next section).
Hootsuite Allows you to view all social media channels in one dashboard so you can monitor and respond to comments, messages, and mentions from one place. The analytics track what is being said about your brand and industry to provide insight on how best to plan your marketing campaigns.
HubSpot Lets you prioritize social interactions, build marketing campaigns, and share content across social channels. Can also monitor social interactions, compare performance on different platforms, etc.
Reddit Keyword Monitor Helps you find and track conversations on this popular source of social intelligence.
Sprout Social Is a social media management software with in-depth data analytics to identify trends and insights to help guide decisions regarding content and marketing campaigns.
Synthesio Offers the ability to track specific topics within segmented audiences and will tag mentions by demographics, sentiment, and location.
Social listening helps you understand the “why”. It helps you identify correlations, the cause and effect interactions that create the ebb and flow of business and customer service. Understand your “normal” so you have a starting point, and be sure to look for the not-so-obvious trends as well. Consumers will often surprise brands with the things they focus on. Leave assumptions aside; accept what the public is saying; as a brand, find the meaning behind the words; and craft a response that will grow your business and increase customer loyalty and retention.
The professionals at Strategy Driven Marketing have extensive experience with all things social and would love to help you use social listening to understand public perception of your brand. For all of your social, website, and marketing needs, contact us today to start the conversation!