In every relationship, there is a balance between talking and listening. If you do one without the other, you won’t be able to meet the needs of the other person. The same is true for social media marketing. As important as it is to promote yourself on social media, you also need to take time to listen to what your audience is saying. As your social media presence grows, so, too, does the need for social listening.
Sometimes called social media listening, social listening is the practice of collecting data on what is being said about your business on social media. You can do this through tags or searches, or by using tools such as Google alerts that tell you when certain terms are mentioned. This is a key way to gain insights into the perception that customers have of their brand.
You can also conduct social listening on the industry, such as the products or services you offer in general. This can give you a wider view of consumer insights into the market.
The internet is vast, and even amongst social media, there is seemingly infinite data to be mined. For social listening, you need to really know what you’re looking for. What questions do you want answered? Generally, with social listening, brands look for customer feedback about their new products or services, as well as potential pain points they can address for their next product.
Social listening differs from social monitoring, which is simply looking for anything related to your product. It’s more concentrated, and requires more engagement on your part. A few ways to effectively conduct social listening include:
- Knowing where to listen. You may find different conversations depending on the social media platform you monitor, and the demographics that most frequently use that platform. Consider where your audience is and where you’re likely to find the most effective conversations.
- Look for pain points. People often complain on social media, which can come in handy for your social listening. Do you see a lot of conversations about how difficult your site is to use or about a niche that hasn’t been filled? What can you do to improve that pain point?
- Monitor relevant keywords and search terms. You can easily search tags on social media to conduct your social listening. You might even create a tag that you encourage your audience to use. You can also sign up for Google alerts about certain topics.
- Use tools if you can. You may be able to pay for tools that monitor certain keywords for you and analyze the data collected. This way, you can simply look at the results. Platforms like Hootsuite, Talkwalker, and Adview can be helpful in this regard.
So you know how to conduct social listening and you’re ready to get started. The question is how that will help your brand in the long run. There are a number of ways that social listening can benefit your business, including:
The more you conduct social listening, the more you understand your customers. This can naturally help you when it comes to providing customer service. You can even anticipate problems that your customers may come to you with, because you’re already addressing them after your social listening finds.
The point of marketing is to create a buzz about your brand. If you conduct social listening only to find that not much of your audience is talking about your brand, that’s a sign that something isn’t working when it comes to your marketing. Social listening can help you reassess and get a better sense of where to invest the time and funding into marketing that works.
Influencers can be a great brand partnership. These are social media users or professionals with a strong following that might be willing to promote, recommend, or represent your brand. If you see any potential influencers discussing your product, don’t be afraid to offer them a sponsorship or attempt to work out a partnership that can boost your brand.
The more you listen to your audience, the more you understand what they need. You can use this to improve your social media content, making it more relevant and engaging to them. When your social listening informs your content, your content will feel directly tailored to your audience.
In social listening, you may find your customers say something like, “I wish there was something like [your brand] but with…” followed up by a niche you may not have thought to cover or a service you might not have thought to provide. These kinds of “I wish” comments can serve as inspiration for new products or services. It also sets up a sort of “you asked and we listened” rapport with your audience.