A considerable challenge for modern marketers is understanding how their customers feel about their brand. Sure, you can send out a survey, or engage a market research firm, but, often the insights aren’t candid. From a marketer’s perspective, listening to what your customers are saying indirectly can be extremely valuable, and give you the insights you need to reach new markets.
This is where social listening comes in.
While social listening may sound like an underhanded form of eavesdropping, it’s far from that. Brands can keep a real-time eye on what their customers are saying by monitoring social media channels for posts that mention them, their competitors and product.
With the right tools and social listening strategy, you can get to the heart of what your customers are saying, doing and feeling about your brand or product. You can take action, even if they don’t include your social media handle, and stay informed on news and influencer conversations while simultaneously identifying new influencers.
How to be a Good Listener
There’s often a bit of confusion around social media listening and how it differs from social media monitoring. Monitoring is more about keeping on top of incoming questions, comments and brand mentions. Listening is more strategic and focuses on garnering insights from those conversations that you can integrate into your digital strategy. While you can use them interchangeably, they’re very different beasts.
Social listening is about more than watching and reacting to @mentions. It’s about tapping into the potential of what people are saying about you, your brand and your product.
Put bluntly; if you’re not listening to your customers, you’re missing out. Social listening lets you tap into real insights from real people. And from a strategy perspective, this real-time data is priceless. If you’re not listening, you’re flying blind, and in this data-driven world, there’s little value in educated guesses.
By monitoring social channels, you can keep an instant eye on social media mentions on every platform and analyse those metrics to find trends and opportunities. It’s one thing to listen to these conversations, but the real opportunity comes from the action you take. These actions could be engaging a happy customer, reaching out to a disgruntled customer or a bigger-picture piece, like shifting your brand positioning.
Listen and Learn
With billions of tweets, posts and comments every day, you need to know what to listen to. Here’s a couple of ways social listening can help.
Create Better Brand Sentiments
Outside of real conversations, when it comes to sharing brand sentiments, customers use social media as a feedback forum. Social listening lets you tap into the collective hive-mind to get a feel for the consensus on your brand or product.
That’s all well and good, but for listening to work, you need to hear what your customers are saying: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tapping into social listening lets you go beyond individual tweets and comments to aggregate trends and help create actionable insights that help accentuate positives and understand negatives.
Grow Your Customer Experience
As your business evolves, both you and your customers will inevitably experience growing pains. While these hiccups are unavoidable, the challenge is understanding how your customers are reacting to the obstacles.
Social listening can help you pick up the trends which need to be addressed. For example, if a shipping carrier is continually late or letting you down, you can use social listening to identify the issue and resolve it, in real-time.
Create Better Content
These days, the lynchpin of most social media strategies is content, content and more content. But if you’re not sharing the right content, your engagement and conversions will suffer.
And while most marketers understand that content is where it’s at, knowing what content to create and where to share it remains the greatest challenge. By using social listening to tap into trends, topics and keywords, brands can create content their audience cares about.
Where to Start
Now that you understand what social listening is and why you need to tune into it, here’s three tools to start exploring:
Track conversations on highly specific topics within carefully segmented audiences. Synthesio can tag mentions by language, location, demographics, sentiment, and influence.
Mention combines social monitoring, analytics, and competitor insights to give you live updates about your brand from the web and social media.
You can use Hootsuite to set up social media streams that monitor conversations and keywords across several social networks. Through Insights, you can monitor more than 25 social networks, as well as news sites, blogs, forums, and other online spaces where people interact. Get real-time updates on unusual spikes or drops in activity.
When it comes to customer insights, there’s enormous value in tapping into customer conversations. For unfiltered insights or ideas to broaden your content marketing, social listening lets you access feedback in real-time, and adapt your strategy to capitalise on customer sentiment.