There’s more to social media marketing than just posting relevant content — you also have to listen to what your audiences are saying. Social listening means taking a proactive approach to monitoring the conversations around your brand.
Why social listening matters
Social listening is an important component of audience research, mainly in analyzing audience sentiment towards your brand — that is, knowing how they feel about you, not just what they think about you.
Most importantly, social listening helps you gain more insight into customer conversations. It helps you to:
- Learn more about their needs and pain points: How can you make your product or service better to address this?
- Engage with them more effectively: When you directly respond to individual comments, audiences feel more valued, and the engagement is thus more meaningful.
- Discover better leads: When you proactively reach out to customers who are already talking about your brand, the chances are higher of taking them further down the sales funnel.
- Track competitors: Finding out what your competitors are doing can help you find new opportunities to make your offerings and marketing strategy better.
- Identify potential brand partners: Knowing which social media influencers your audiences are following gives you the opportunity to identify new advocates for your brand.
7 social listening tips to gain insight into customer conversations
1. Know what to listen to
The first point to take care of is to know what exactly to pay attention to:
- Direct mentions of your brand, social media handle (e.g, @BrandOfficial), and/or product names
- Hashtags, campaign names, and relevant keywords
- Names of important people in your company (e.g., your CEO)
- Topics relating to your brand
- All of the above, but for your competitors
2. Look outside of your circle
It’s also important to consider conversations about your brand outside of your own circle (by “circle,” we mean comments on your posts, direct messages, and direct mentions).
Looking outside of your circle means paying attention to conversations or comments where:
- users don’t tag or mention you
- users misspell your brand name
- users use common brand short names (e.g., McDonald’s vs. McDo) and abbreviations of your brand name and product names.
3. Keep tabs on the latest trends, news, and influencers related to your industry
Stay relevant by keeping abreast of what’s trending in your industry. By doing so, you get insight into the following:
- what your audience is interested in at the current moment
- any economic issues that might impact your company and/or industry
- gaps in your industry that you can fill in
Join in conversations and causes that matter to your audience — this gives them the impression that you listen not just about your brand but also about the community as a whole.
Another thing to take note of are social media influencers who are popular in your industry. They can become potential brand partners, with whom you can collaborate with. Partnerships with influencers can greatly increase your reach.
4. When listening, empathize with your audience’s sentiments
The value of listening is found when you empathize. Determine the sentiment of the conversation — is it positive or negative?
- If it’s negative, dig deeper: if a certain feature of your product or service is not pleasing your target audience, what unseen pain point are they trying to tell you?
- If it’s positive, figure out what they love about you and leverage on that knowledge for future campaigns.
Empathizing also leads to more effective resolutions to customer concerns, and to more valuable engagement.
5. Take note of what competitors are doing
Competitor analysis is important for every marketing strategy, and social listening can refine your analysis even further. See what works and what doesn’t for them:
- If something works, set strategies on how to outperform them. Don’t try to do something similar; instead, do something better and more valuable.
- If something isn’t working, find out how you can and create a better experience for your target consumers.
6. Be prompt in responding
One of the most valuable uses of social listening is in providing great customer service.
If you listen proactively and not wait for users to directly message you or mention you, you can promptly assuage any negative sentiments before it escalates.
Acknowledge and thank positive comments about your brand. Proactively join in conversations of would-be customers inquiring about your products or services or looking for something that’s similar to your offerings.
7. Use the right tools
Lastly, use the right tools. Luckily, most major social media platforms have built-in features that you can use for social listening:
- Facebook — Built-in “Search” bar, “Explore” tab, Facebook Groups, Facebook for Business Audience Insights and Insights to Go tools
- Instagram — Built-in “Search” bar, “Discover” tab, follow hashtags feature, Instagram for Business Consumer Insights blog
- Twitter — Built-in “Search” bar, “Trends for you” tab, “Explore” tab, “Who to follow” tab, Twitter for Business Insights tool
If you have room in your budget for more sophisticated third-party tools, we’ve listed some of the most popular options. These tools can automate social listening for you, as well as provide you with more detailed insights about the conversations around your brand:
Social listening tools, bundled into their social media management offering:
Social listening tools, focused solely on social listening features:
There’s a lot involved in social media marketing, as it’s highly dynamic especially now that more and more users are reliant on social media not just for personal socialization but also as a platform to connect with brands.
Social listening is important now more than ever, and we’ve provided you with strategies on how to effectively listen and monitor what people say and feel about your company.
Do you have more questions about social media? Check out our articles on our blog: https://www.ilfusion.com/blog