Social listening is the process of gathering information online about your brand, products, and industry. By using social listening, you can discover conversations about you and your business that you can use to inform your marketing strategies, product development, and processes to improve customer satisfaction. Keeping track of what’s being said by your consumers on social media is one of the best ways to stay in the loop with feedback and trending topics in your industry.

 

The benefits of using social listening

Social listening can benefit your business by giving you a front-row-seat to your customers’ activity online
Businesses have always used tools such as surveys to collect feedback from customers, but social media has made it even easier. Whilst all businesses should be present for consumers on social media, it’s not enough to just be available – you need to be proactive and participate in the discourse surrounding your company.

By using data gathered from social listening, you can make strategic and critical business adjustments. If you’re not social listening, you’re missing opportunities for vital market research. Here are a few ways that social listening can benefit your business:

1. Get to know your customers
Social listening can help you to discover what your audience have to say about your brand. By listening to your audience, you can better tailor your products and services to their wants and needs.

One of your customers might post a review of one of your products to their Instagram page; engaging with it could make your customers feel valued. There may be a hashtag trending on Twitter that relates to businesses such as your own; by paying attention to these conversations, you can find out what potential customers may be looking for from companies like yours.

Social listening can help highlight areas where you may need to make adjustments, or opportunities to improve brand awareness and customer satisfaction.

2. Improving customer engagement
Once you’ve discovered what your customers are saying about your business, you can nurture these relationships by responding. The benefits of directly engaging with your customers can include an improvement in engagement rates, brand awareness, and customer satisfaction, so it’s worth making the effort to interact with them. Customers appreciate feeling listened to; 48% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a company that interacts with customers on their social media. 

3. Product development
Social listening is a fantastic tool to inform your product development. By monitoring what your customers are saying about your industry and your products on social media, you can find out what is and isn’t working for them.

For example, a customer may purchase a product from you and then tweet that they are having difficulty using it. You could respond to them with instructions on using your products or offer to open a dialogue to address their concerns. Without social listening, you may not have found out that your customers are dissatisfied with your product. Your product development team can use this feedback to inform your future projects.

Alternatively, a customer may highlight a gap in the market for your industry, or mention that they would like if your brand offered a particular service; use this information to brainstorm new ideas.

4. Social media strategy
Social listening can help you to improve your current social media strategy. Keep an eye on what consumers and your competitors are posting; is there a new, relevant trend that your company has yet to get involved with? Are there any trending topics that your competitors have been posting about? Is there a type of content that is gaining a lot of engagement for other brands?

For example, there could be a key news story or development related to your industry that is gaining a lot of traction on social media. Your audience may be interested in hearing what you have to say on certain topics. Social listening can help you to discover these conversations and ensure that your social media content is relevant and up to date.

5. Competitor and industry awareness
One of the main benefits of social listening is that it allows you to better understand your competitors, and what consumers think about them. Not only can social listening help you to plan your content or engage with your consumers, but it can also give insight into what other brands in your industry are doing to engage with their audience. You can use this to make valuable alterations to your strategies.

Knowing what your competitors are up to allows you to tailor your tactics effectively. Are they gaining positive recognition on social media for a product or service? Are they receiving backlash in response to one of their social media posts? Have they launched a new campaign? Being aware of what competitors are doing will reveal any possible risks or possibilities for your business.

Here are other ways that social listening can help you with competitor analysis:

    • It can help you to determine your popularity in your industry. You can compare the amount of engagement and mentions between  your company and your competitors

 

    • Keep an eye out for new product or service launches so you are always up to date. By keeping tabs on your industry, you can spot new releases and innovative ideas, so your brand is always ahead of the curve

 

    • Identify any areas where your competitors have been unsuccessful and use this to make sure you are always meeting consumer needs. By knowing what your competitors are doing wrong, you can provide alternatives for your customers

 

  • See what is working for them. Use this as a benchmark to set your own performance objectives and figure out how you can outperform them

6. Crisis management
Consumers may use social media to talk negatively about your business and your products. By using social listening, you can make sure you’re aware of any negative conversations happening about your brand, marketing, or products. If you know your audience is unhappy, you can strategise ways to repair your relationship and regain their trust. Social listening can help you to mitigate a social media crisis.

7. Lead generation 
Not only can social listening offer you valuable market research and insights into industry news, but it can also be a useful tool for lead generation. With social listening, you can track what’s being posted by your target audience.

For example, you may find customers who are dissatisfied with a competitor; this is an opportunity to offer them a solution. Regularly engaging with your audience online will help you improve brand loyalty and nurture your relationships with them. Keeping your customers happy will improve the likelihood of them spreading positive word-of-mouth about your business, which can generate leads. If others see your business positively interacting with consumers online, they may be inclined to check out what you may have to offer them.

8. Finding relevant influencers
If you want to appeal to a wider audience, you may want to consider collaborating with a social media influencer. Social influencers are figureheads of online communities; your customers trust them and may make a purchase based on their recommendations alone. Influencer marketing is a huge industry, with 80% of consumers claiming they have made a purchase because of an influencer’s review.

By using social listening, you can identify influencers that your customers frequently interact with. Analyse their following and compare it to your own; is your company likely to resonate with their follower demographic? Using this information, you can consider whether they might make a good fit for your social marketing campaign.

 

What is the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Whilst social listening and social monitoring go hand in hand, they perform different functions.

Social monitoring is a reactive approach. This involves brands tracking keywords that are related to their business and directly responding to mentions of their company on social media. Social listening is a proactive approach where companies pay attention to their industry and their customers on social media to find out what is being talked about, to inform their overall strategy and to look for opportunities to make positive changes and interactions.

Think of social monitoring as your direct line with your audience, whereas social listening is a way to assess your industry’s broader landscape.

Why is social monitoring important for businesses?
Social monitoring allows you to provide customer service over social media. By tracking all content related to your company, you can provide customer support and make sure that you can resolve any issues that your customers are having. For example, if one of your customers makes a Tweet and tags your company in it, by responding you are participating in social monitoring. If you track one of your branded hashtags, and engage with every post that includes that hashtag, you are social monitoring. Social monitoring also includes keeping track of mentions of your company name or products, even when tags aren’t used. Social monitoring can help you to prevent complaints, but also allows you to thank customers for any positive feedback they have posted to their social media channels.

Create social monitoring reports to make sure that nothing slips through the net; by compiling a weekly or monthly report, you can keep track of how many mentions your brand is getting, what percentage of these interactions are negative, how much positive feedback you are receiving, and more. This will give you a bigger picture of how your business and products are being received by your customers.

 

How to use social listening for your business

Now that you understand the principles and benefits of using social listening and monitoring, you should set up your social listening plan.

Figure out what you want to track, such as:

  • Brand name mentions
  • Product mentions
  • Hashtags related to your business
  • Hashtags related to your industry
  • The name of your CEO
  • Your competitors name
  • Keywords relating to your industry or products

Make sure that you’re tracking these points across the following:

  • Blogs
  • News websites
  • All social media platforms, even ones that you may not be present on

Turn on post notifications for these metrics, and make sure that you’re following relevant hashtags and users so that you never miss anything that may be useful.

Whilst this is a good starting point for your business, using a social media listening tool will help you to save on time and resources.

 

Free social listening tools

Whilst you could set up and maintain your own social listening campaign, using a social listening tool could help you to save time and effort, and ensure that nothing is missed. Here are some examples of free social listening tools:

 

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is one of the most popular social media management tools, and in 2020 they launched a new, innovative solution to social listening, Hootsuite Insights. It was created to help businesses stay up to date with what’s being said about them and their industry online.

Using Hootsuite Insights, you can create saved searches that will work in the background to collate data on where you are mentioned. It scans social media websites, blogs, news sources, and other online resources for mentions of your company, products, and industry trends.

It can collect information about your audience, their location, when they’re active, and who and what they’re talking about. It also has features such as:

  • A word cloud that highlights what terms your audience are using. This can help you to make your future content more relevant
  • It can analyse the tone of the conversations happening related to your saved search terms, so you can see whether your audience is talking negatively about your company or industry
  • You can create an alert for specific terms, so that you receive a notification as soon as someone mentions that word when talking about your brand online. This can help you to resolve any issues as soon as they appear

Hootsuite’s Insight report accesses data from over 100 million sources and updates in real-time, so that your dashboard is always up to date.

 

Talkwalker

Talkwalker is a tool that you can use to monitor your social media mentions in real time. Talkwalker is great for social listening because it analyses over 150 million online resources including blogs, reviews, and videos to find out what people are saying about your company and industry. It creates comprehensive graphs for your search terms, so you can see what people are searching for and when. This can help you to identify activity peaks which can inform your social media strategy. You can also:

  • Flag individual comments and mentions and assign them to team members to deal with, so nothing is missed
  • See when your competitors are being talked about, and compare your metrics
  • Find out what topics are frequently mentioned in relation to your brand
  • Generate PowerPoint presentations so you can present this information easily

 

Tweetdeck

Tweetdeck is a social media monitoring tool that focuses solely on Twitter. Tweetdeck collects all the Tweets, topics, and messages related to you, your brand, your competitors, and your industry, and compiles it all into a streamlined dashboard. This is useful if you’re trying to grow and manage your presence on Twitter.

Tweetdeck’s all-in-one interface means that you can search, message, reply, and favourite tweets all in one place. The dashboard streams in real time, so you don’t have to hit refresh to see new content. You can easily set up alerts for key terms so that you never miss what’s being said.

 

Google Alerts

Using Google Alerts can help you to follow online conversations involving your company. All you need to do is type in a term or phrase that you want to keep track of. From here, it will bring up suggestions for similar terms, allow you to set notifications for your terms, and allows you to filter results by demographics such as language or region.

Google Alerts is a simple, user-friendly tool for social listening, but for larger companies, you may need to use a more in-depth tool.

 

Mention

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that gives you a notification whenever you or your company is mentioned online.

With an easy-to-use interface for the web, and an app for iPhone and Android, Mention combs the internet and social media channels to find out what is being said about your business online. You can be notified every time your search terms are mentioned, or you can opt to receive daily summary reports. By tracking what your consumers are saying about you online, you can mitigate any concerns, and spot potential trends. You can respond to users who may have questions about your brand or spot a great review.

With Mention, you can track up to 500 mentions per month for free.

Once you’ve chosen the tool that’s right for your business, you’re all set to begin your social listening campaign.

Social listening helps companies to monitor their reputations and interactions online, anticipate possible social media crises, discover what’s trending in their industry, and gather information on what their customers are searching for online. Using a social listening tool will help to give your social listening campaign focus, but make sure to keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure you choose the best, most relevant terms to search. Go back and update them frequently so you don’t miss important insights
  • Practice social listening across all social media platforms, even ones that you use less frequently
  • Pay attention to any trends, e.g., if your company is talked about frequently by women from the UK on Twitter, investigate why, and think about how this insight can help your business
  • Track your competitors, and learn from their highs and lows
  • When you’ve gathered your social listening data, use these reports to inform your product development and social media strategy going forward.

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