Imagine owning a cafe. You overhear a customer comment that the pastries you’re serving are dry. You ask around to verify if there are other customers who feel the same way. You listen to what they’re saying and make the necessary adjustments; soon customers are raving about your latest offerings and are recommending them to friends and family.
This in a nutshell is what social listening is all about. An important element of audience research, it gives brands the opportunity to track, analyze, and respond to mentions and conversations about them on social media.
Social listening is a two-step process. First, you monitor social media channels and keep track of mentions of your brand, competitors, products, and keywords related to your business and industry. You then analyze this information and take action accordingly. It could be something as simple as thanking a customer for her feedback, or it could lead to a complete brand refresh.
It might seem that social listening is the same as social media monitoring, but these are completely different concepts. Social media monitoring takes a look at metrics such as brand mentions, relevant hashtags, competitor mentions, industry trends, and gathers data on these metrics. On the other hand, social listening goes beyond the numbers and takes action on the data gathered.
Why social listening is important
According to Wendy Scherer, Managing Partner of Social Studies Group, social listening can help you:
Drive customer engagement. With social listening, you can reinforce a customer’s positive experience with your brand. You could immediately address customer support issues or just keep the conversation going and create goodwill.
Manage a crisis better, or prevent one from happening in the first place. PR firms in Charlotte, NC are using social listening to identify potential problem areas and address them before things can get out of hand.
Check on your competitors. Aside from understanding what customers are saying about you, you would also want to know what they’re saying about your competitors. This can give you insights on how strong your position is in the market.
Social listening also keeps you up to date with their latest product launches, marketing campaigns, or overall business direction. Seize the opportunity to learn from their successes and mistakes; use the information you’ve gathered to do better.
Identify new trends and innovations. Are people talking about a food trend that could take the culinary world by storm? Social listening could pave the way for new business opportunities.
Discover brand advocates. With social listening, you can find people who love your brand and are saying good things about it on social media. Reach out and look for opportunities to collaborate.
How to get started with social listening
“Everybody’s doing some kind of social listening at some level,” notes Wendy. It could be as straightforward as doing a quick search on Google or Twitter.
Here are some keywords and topics that you can monitor from the get go:
- Your brand name
- Your product name(s), including common misspellings
- Your competitors’ brand names and product names
- Industry buzzwords
- Your slogan and those of your competitors
- Names of key people in your company and those of your competitors
- Campaign names or keywords
- Your branded hashtags and those of your competitors
- Unbranded hashtags related to your industry
To get the most out of your social listening efforts, Wendy says it’s important to be where your customers are. Which platform do they use to talk about you? Conversations about your brand on LinkedIn can be completely different from the conversations on Instagram. Your brand could be trending on Twitter, but is getting fewer engagements on Facebook. You can then craft a clear communications strategy based on where these conversations are taking place.
Cast a wide search net. “Queries should not be limited by your preconceived notions of what the answers should be,” she adds. Curiosity goes a long way.
Social listening tools help. Hootsuite, allows you to view and respond to all your messages, comments, and brand mentions across several social channels in a single dashboard. BuzzSumo tracks post impressions and shares. BrandWatch collects posts, comments, and conversations relevant to your brand. It then categorizes these conversations and uses AI to spot critical insights.
While these tools make social listening easier, it’s still up to you to make a difference. “Social listening tools don’t solve problems,” Wendy says, “People do.”
A top PR firm in Charlotte NC, McKeeman Communications works with companies that are experiencing rapid growth or change. We help localize and share messaging that builds awareness and trust for their brand. Call (866) 341-2650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.