Updated: May 18
Businesses these days understand and acknowledge the need of establishing a digital presence for their brand. The click & mortar culture started a while back, but it took time for businesses to understand the importance of a digital existence to explore further both geographies and markets.
The thought of brand presence came along with the need to establish brand awareness aka. content marketing and through constant efforts of brand awareness creating strong brand recall.
While entrepreneurs and business owners found themselves working out the details about how to establish their presence in the digital space, they lost sight of the actual people they were doing for their target audience. The people whose requirements and income are going to boost their business, list of clientele, and of course their revenues.
Businesses, everywhere, irrespective of their industries and offerings, should never lose sight of whom they are serving. They should always be aware of what their target audience has to say about their product and service offerings; if they are happy, annoyed, ecstatic, or plain indifferent.
By finding out these views and logging this feedback, businesses can ensure continuous improvement in their products and services and also identify ways of cross-selling and upselling new products based on consumer demands. This is where social listening steps in.
What is social listening?
Social listening refers to brand’s way of monitoring its social media platforms and handles to identify any sort of client feedback and direct mentions (tags) or discussions that involve the set of keywords, industries, topics, or competitors that your brand follows or is a part of, and the subsequent analysis of this information to gain insights and make informed decisions and create strategies to act of those insights.
One crucial thing to understand about social listening is that it is different from social monitoring. These two terms are often used interchangeably, however, they are subtly different.
Social monitoring refers to the way a business monitors their social media handles by tracking metrics such as:
Mentions (brand or competitor)
Social listening, on the other hand, analyses this information to gain insights and act upon them by making an informed decision.
Therefore, if you are proactively tracking what is being said about your brand but not taking action based on those inputs, that’s social monitoring and not social listening.
Why social listening is important for your brand’s growth?
Remember when you first started off as a business, you did your due diligence and found out the market requirements and demand for your product or service. As time passes by and your business develops, you will need to add more offerings to your portfolio to stay relevant. Social listening helps you do this most effectively without having to conduct frequent research, primary or secondary.
By listening to what your target audience, customers, and loyalists are saying about your offerings, you get an idea about what they are looking for, be it improvements or additions to your current portfolio.
For example, while going through the social media handle of a popular online clothing and accessories company, The Souled Store, I noticed that their ardent fans expressed their desire of buying laptop skins from them. The brand’s social media response team instantly replied that they are open to suggestions and that they’ll pass this one on to their design team.
I really liked the way they responded and if a few months down the line I do see them launching laptop skins, I will know they went full circle with their social listening efforts.
Top 4 reasons why you should integrate social listening to your online marketing efforts
Engage with followers and customers
There’s a high chance that the people who are already are your customers are also following you on your social media handles, provided your pages are updated and you are continuously adding new content to it.
Also, your social media platforms are places that see many leads who could turn into potential customers. Before they do become your customers, they might have some questions that they would like to be addressed. The same goes for current customers who might have questions regarding their purchase, coupons, shipping, etc.
Given the 24/7 nature of social media, your customers, current and prospective, expect quick replies from you. This is one of the best ways to engage your followers/customers, delight them with a positive engagement experience, and ensure they feel valued. This not only boosts brand credibility and recall but also the confidence your customers have in you and that you are actually listening to them.
Create positive PR experiences
The content you post can bring about both positive and negative sentiments. No two people think alike. Hence, it could be difficult to gauge what is working for someone and is not working for someone else.
The key is to pay attention and read through the conversations. It might seem time-consuming, but it is definitely worth the effort. By finding out what are the positive things people are saying about your brand, you can create more of such content to keep them engaging with you on a positive note.
On the other hand, if you ever get negative engagement on your post, find out what caused it. What seemed right to you, did not seem right to some of your followers? Almost every post sees some negative comments once in a while, and that’s okay, but if they are outweighing the positive comments, then it’s time to step in and take action.
Identify the cause and make changes, immediately. You could delete the post or apologize for whatever caused the ruckus.
Always remember, it is better to be an average problem solver than a major problem creator.
Track your competitor’s social media
It is not just your hashtags, mentions, and social media handles that you need to track when you are social listening, you should also track that of your competitors. This will give you real-time input into what they are doing, any new launches or strategies they might be unfolding, and how are their followers (who could also be your followers, given similar interest) interacting with their brand.
Social listening when applied to your competitor's social media handles, helps you find out about what’s working and what’s not, using their experience. That’s a big win.
Also, know that your competitors too are social listening.
Identify issues and pain points
Your customers might love your product, but they might be looking for something more. They might feel an added product feature might help them use the product better.
Social listening is a great way to find out more about these lines. Instead of frustrations over product or service usage building up, you can take proactive steps to improve features and deliver a positive experience to both your returning and new customers.
Tracking influencers and brand evangelists
Through social listening, you can find out the influencers in your industry who could become an ambassador for your brand. Influencers can help you gather more relevant traction through shout outs to their followers. They can also “influence” greatly the image people have about your brand through their own product experiences.
It is always a good idea to identify such influencers through social listening, collaborating with them, and turning them into brand evangelists.
Try and find out some of your natural brand ambassadors, too. Customers who love your offerings and love spreading the word about your brand. Reach out and collaborate with them, as well.
Social listening when done right, can promise you insights and information that would be hard to come by even if you set up 10-page long, detailed questionnaires and focus groups. This is because, social listening refers lets you listen to your customers in their natural element, sans bias.
All you need to do is set up the list of handles, hashtags, and mentions that are relevant and monitor them, use that information to gather insight and establish strategies and make decisions using this information.
Need help with setting up a content strategy for your business that supports social listening?
P.S.: If you found this article useful, please do like, comment, or share. Whichever you wish. This will help me do some social listening of my own. :)
You can check out my vlogs on social listening over here.