Listening: it’s an underrated skill in this day and age! So why does social media marketing start with listening? Listen up and find out…

What is social listening?

Social listening is the practice of closely monitoring and researching your social media channels for mentions, discussions, and tags of;

  • Your business
  • Your competitors
  • Your products and/or services
  • Industry-related topics and trends
  • Niche-related topics and trends

And using it to inform your business marketing strategy.

Why does social media marketing start with listening?

All successful plans, strategies, and projects are well researched. Social listening is research.

Social listening enables you to monitor industry-relevant keywords and mentions, and it also informs you about your target audience, connect with potential clients and customers, interact and engage with audiences and oversee what their current interests and conversations involve, identify key influencers and competitors within your niche, and research upcoming trends, as well as which types of content, is most successful and well-received with your target audience.

That’s a lot of juicy information, right? So, it’s a no-brainer that knowing all that information about your market and target audience is going to help you strengthen, develop, create and tailor your social media marketing and content strategy.

What is social monitoring?

The process of collating and responding to your business mentions is called social monitoring. It’s more of a data collection technique, involving tracking metrics and managing customer mentions and queries – whereas social listening is about gaining insights into your market, niche, and audience.

Large companies employ social media teams specifically to watch for mentions of their business and to share and respond to them promptly.

It differs from social listening, in the sense that, social monitoring is about collating data, whereas social listening is using data acquired from social monitoring to apply to your marketing and advertising strategies.

What is the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Social Bakers put it aptly, “monitoring focuses on the micro, listening on the macro”

With social monitoring, you audit and follow all mentions of your business, and converse with customers on an individual level, e.g., responding to queries, thanking them for sharing your product. Therefore, social monitoring is referred to as ‘micro’ interactions.

Unlike social media monitoring, social media listening happens on a broad scale. Rather than focusing on those individual interactions, social listening follows business mentions and interactions, competitor mentions, product mentions – anything that contributes to building an idea of your market position and how your business is perceived. You can gather all your data from social listening to oversee how customers interact with, react to and feel about your business and niche.

Then, from the information you’ve gathered, you can make changes to your business, digital marketing, and social media strategy.

How to do social listening

You can use the following strategies for social listening;

  • Switch on notifications for your competitors, so you are on it when they post and can observe how their audience reacts to and engages with their content
  • Follow relevant hashtags
  • Regularly research keywords that you want to rank for/show up for and the popular content that surrounds them
  • Focus on nano and micro-influencer content (this is great for picking out upcoming trends)
  • Advertising and marketing analytics
  • Collate the most used adjectives from customer reviews and feedback into a document to uncover what your audience thinks and feels about your company and your work (use your reviews and testimonials to establish online social proof too).
  • Use social media listening tools to assist you if you are time-poor.

Social media listening and analytics

You can use your social media analytics to carry out social listening too. Each social network has its own analytics dashboard, and you can use this data to uncover your most popular content and your audience’s habits and demographics.

A particular metric to focus on is share of voice – a measure of the market your brand owns compared to your competitors – learn how to calculate your share of voice.

Key social listening takeaways

  • Social listening is a form of research that companies undertake when curating their marketing strategy. It’ll inform you what’s hot, and what’s not!
  • Social monitoring and social listening are two different – yet connected – research techniques that you can apply to your social marketing strategy
  • Social monitoring refers to keeping an eye on individual business mentions and responding to your customers, predominantly on a 1-2-1 basis.
  • Calculate your share of voice to see how you measure up to your competitors online
  • Social listening is the art of following certain topics, your competitors, keywords, hashtags, comments, feedback, and collating all your business mentions to find out more about your current audience and potential customers, and then applying your findings to your social media marketing strategy
  • Applying your learnings and research for social media listening will strengthen your marketing strategy and content plan.

Need more information on a social media marketing strategy? Read these key pieces:

Social Media Content Advice To Grow Your Audience

20 Social Media Marketing Tips To Boost Your Brand

Using Social Proof And Customer Psychology In Social Media Marketing

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