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What is Social Listening and Why You Need to Use It

Simply put, social listening is monitoring social media channels for conversations about your brand, your competitors, and your product or service. It allows brands to track and analyze conversations about them on social platforms. Pretend that you own a boutique clothing shop. You’re behind the counter and you overhear a conversation between two customers. One says, “I like the selection of sundresses here…especially the ones with big bright prints.” “Yeah, those are nice,” the other one replies. “But I’m not digging the tube tops, they are way too 80s for me.” You begin to ponder what you overheard. Does everyone feel this way about the tube tops? You start to ask other customers when they come into your boutique. You start to listen to conversations that are organically happening in your store. And, based on what you hear, you start to make changes that are in alignment with what you hear people like. It’s working. Your sales are going up because you are listening to what your customers actually want, not second-guessing what you think they want. So you might be thinking, but I run an online business, how can I listen in to what people are saying about my business or brand… It’s a simple two-step process:

  1. Monitor social platforms for conversations about your brand, keywords you use in your business, as well as your competitors.

  2. Analyze the data for ways that you can put what you discover into action.

Social monitoring and social listening on the surface look like the same thing, but social monitoring focuses on the metrics like:

  • Brand mentions

  • Pertinent hashtags

  • Competitor chatter

  • Trends in your niche/industry

Social monitoring is beneficial for tracking your ROI or A/B testing your ad campaigns. Looking at engagements and mentions is beneficial for the bottom line, but social listening goes much deeper and considers the mood behind the data.

Understanding your data can help you predict buying patterns and the overall feeling toward your brand. It is a powerful tool for you to use to pivot and take action to connect with your potential and existing customers on a deeper level. Imagine a positivity scale to measure how your brand is perceived and use the data to guide your daily strategy in running your business. It helps you gauge the problem you solve and how effectively you do that from your customer’s perspective. If your customers really matter to you, and I’m sure they do, you will want to lean in on the insights they are leaving for you. There is a goldmine of information you can use to serve them on a deeper level. For instance, if you’re hearing that you don’t have great customer service, you may choose to set up an account on FB to answer questions rather than using a ticket system. You may institute an “all tech” questions rule to answer all tech-related questions within a 2-hour window so customers aren't left hanging with an issue that is holding them back, and perhaps costing them money. Social listening allows you to see what is working in real-time. You can see what posts are doing well and which posts are not resonating with your audience. But, you need to look even deeper. Why are they engaging? What is the emotional connection that is fueling the engagement? If you can pinpoint the answer to those two questions, you can create more powerful marketing campaigns in the future.

As you social listen, you may also uncover additional pain points. This information creates an opportunity to repackage an existing product/service or create something that will address that problem in a new way. This newfound knowledge allows you to nurture and build deeper relationships with your existing clientele and attract new potential clients with your messaging and social selling strategies. Set yourself apart by being known as the best resource for their unique buying decision. Social listening also opens up opportunities for you to connect brand influencers and advocates. When you recognize your brand getting noticed by these types of people, make a connection and suggest possible ways to collaborate. If you’re new to the concept of social listening, here is a list of keywords and topics you will want to start monitoring to get a feel for how your brand is being perceived:

  • Your brand name and handles

  • Your products/services, including common misspellings

  • Your competitors’ brand names, product names, and handles

  • Industry buzzwords

  • Your slogan and those of your competitors

  • Names of key people in your company and your competitors’ companies

  • Campaign names or keywords

  • Branded and unbranded hashtags and those of your competitors

There are several tools out there to help you social listen:

  • AdvieW is designed for brands to social listen on FB and IG ads. You’ll be able to see analytics behind your ads to get more engagement.

  • ReviewTrackers makes it possible to see reviews on more than 50 review sites.

  • Talkwalker has listening features that analyze blogs, videos, and more by drawing from 150 million sources for data.

  • Brandwatch monitors the impact and tone of conversations over 95 missions data sources for blogs, social networks, news, and reviews.

  • Mentionlytics tracks mentions, keywords and make it easy to find influencers across social platforms.

As we move into the new age of marketing harnessing the power of data will give you a competitive edge. The more you know about your existing customers and potential customers the more effective you will be at conveying the solution you offer to their most pressing problems.

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