Social listening is an invaluable marketing tool that not enough companies take full advantage of. It allows you to track, analyze, and respond to conversations about your brand, competitors, and your entire industry online. If you don’t have a social listening strategy in place, you’re missing out on critical insights.
What is Social Listening
Social media listening is analyzing conversations and trends happening, not just around your brand, but your industry as a whole, and using those insights to make better marketing decisions. Social listening is not the same as social monitoring. Social monitoring involves tracking and responding to messages about or sent directly to your brand. Social listening helps you understand why, where, and how these conversations are happening, and people’s in-depth thoughts, not just their tags and mentions of your brand specifically. It can assist in forming future campaigns, improving content and messaging strategy, and building effective and impactful brand partnerships. Social listening is all about understanding the bigger picture.
This is the most common reason companies perform social listening. Companies can monitor mentions of their products and track overall brand health. Following conversations around your brand can allow you to illuminate consumer attitudes and sentiment drivers. Social media has become a leading customer service platform, and where customers prefer to complain. Whether it’s to a brand or just about one in general, customers openly share about any problem they’ve encountered. Other customers often judge brands by how they respond to these complaints. Companies that respond promptly with professionalism and empathy keep customers and gain new ones.
Social listening can supplement – or sometimes even replace – traditional market research strategies. Traditional market research methods such as surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. only reflect attitudes of a small group of people at one point in time. The information gathered can be time-constrained, selective, and skewed. Social media analytics can produce data in hours or days, as opposed to the weeks and months for conventional methods. When the information gathered is unprompted it’s more likely to reveal consumers’ true, unfiltered feelings. Social media listening can help quickly identify market issues, consumer concerns, and preferred product features. For most companies, their markets are constantly and rapidly changing. Those fail to keep up quickly get left behind, such as BlackBerry and Nintendo.
Competitor Analysis and General Research
The purpose of social listening doesn’t just stop at your brand, you can also monitor competitors, as well as just any general phenomenon being discussed online. Occasionally checking a competitor’s website doesn’t really give the full picture about how they’re performing in the space. Companies can gain a wealth of competitive intelligence through monitoring what’s being said about your competition on social networks, in the general media, on discussion boards, etc. This can give you data on new product development, marketing strategies, product positioning, key consumers, and any PR activity. Identifying competitors’ strengths, weaknesses, and successful/unsuccessful strategies can help you determine things to try and avoid.
Additionally, you can monitor anything in general that you find relevant to your brand. Whether you’re a journalist writing an article on a political issue, a charity wanting to evaluate the volume of conversations around a social cause, or an entrepreneur looking to start a business and doing market research, social listening can assist you.
Identifying User-Generated Content and Potential Influencers
Consumers frequently post photos and videos praising products online. User-generated content can be an enormously effective and affordable way to market yourself. Countless studies have shown that consumers trust recommendations made by other customers more than brands, especially if the consumer has influence. Social listening enables brands to find this type of content, amplify it, and repurpose it for marketing purposes.
Through social listening you can also identify the impact and reach of your brand mentions and find who your most influential advocates are. If you’re looking to partner with an influencer, you can create a social listening alert for your industry and see who are the most influential people in your niche. It’s also smart to note competitor’s influencers because they would likely make a good fit for your brand as well.
The Top 5 Social Listening Tools of 2019
Social media is an invaluable resource for insights and trends in consumer behavior that not enough brands take full advantage of. Social listening tools continue to get more powerful and affordable as more brands turn to them for market research, customer insights, competitive analysis, and to gain leads. If you settle on purchasing a tool it’s important to remember that just monitoring isn’t enough. To make it worthwhile, you need to act on the data. Which means engaging with customers that are mentioning you, spotting trends to adapt to your marketing, customer services, and product strategies, with the overall goal to better serve your customers.