Almost 4 million posts are added across the major social networks every single minute. That is an unthinkable amount of free social data available for all. People are sharing their opinions, preferences, and emotions. Imagine how powerful this data could be for your business.
But the challenge is to find data relevant for you. Statistics show that 89% of social messages which target brands go unnoticed. That’s where social listening comes into play.
At first sight, social listening is quite a simple idea – you have your keyword(s) and you monitor them, that’s it. But many marketers don’t understand the power of social media listening and fail to use it to its full potential.
To get the full picture, let’s start from the basics. So the first question is: “What is social listening?”
What is social listening?
Social media listening is an act of using a tool to monitor – or ‘listen to’ – what’s being said about a brand (or any other keyword or set of keywords) across the social web.
It is sometimes also referred to as social media monitoring, social media measurement, or social media intelligence. All these terms can be used interchangeably.
So now that we’re clear on what it is, let’s get some misconceptions out of the way. First and foremost, social listening is not just for social media. Of course, it depends on a tool you use, some of the tools focus just on one platform like TweetDeck, but most will monitor all major social networks and the web like Awario. That means that you’re not only getting mentions from social networks, but you also can find relevant mentions in blog posts, news articles, and on forums.
Another common misconception is related to a narrow perspective on social listening. Many people think of social media intelligence as synonymous with brand monitoring. They don’t really really think of all the opportunities social media monitoring can give you. With a social listening tool, you can do anything from solving the daily task of engaging with your audience to gathering insights to guide your product development and growth strategy.
Social media listening can help you with:
- Brand monitoring
- Competitor monitoring
- Customer support
- Product development
- Influencer marketing
- Social selling
- Market research
- Competitor monitoring
- Content curation
As you see, there’s a long list of things you can do. The result depends on the keywords you choose to monitor. That’s why it’s important to look for a tool which has flexible settings and an option to include keyword combinations.
Now, let’s dive deeper and see how exactly social listening can be used to grow your business.
How can you use social listening?
Most social listening tools have analytics feature which lets you see how the online perception of your brand changes through time. If a tool has an access to historical data, it will show you the trends and waves in public perception over months and even years.
However, despite the fact that monitoring your brand is the most obvious use case for social listening, there are still some pitfalls which you need to be mindful of. The following tips will help you to get the best results.
Type of keywords to track
When you select your keywords for brand monitoring, it’s not enough to just add your brand name. The thing is, people often misspell and abbreviate words, especially when they’re writing a quick social post on their phone. That’s why I suggest you choose the following keywords to monitor:
- Your brand name and common misspellings of your brand name (McDonald’s, mcdonalds, macdonalds).
- Common abbreviations of your brand name (MCD).
- Your slogans (I’m loving it) and hashtag associated with your brand (#mcdo).
In this case, you can be sure that you are not missing any mentions.
In addition to monitoring your brand, it is always a good idea to monitor your competitors. You can see what they are up to, learn from their mistakes, or find inspiration in their success. Chances are you’re already checking up on your competitors from time to time. Social media listening allows you to collect all their social posts as well as mentions of their brand in one feed.
Social media intelligence enables you to identify the general sentiment towards competitor’s brand, their top influencers and which platforms they’re prioritizing. You can use this data to shape your own social media strategy.
Type of keywords to track
Basically, you’ll need to track all the keywords that you monitor for your own brand: misspellings, abbreviations, and all that. Moreover, don’t forget to add a competitor’s website URL so you can see who share their content.
For many people, it’s much more natural to send a message on Facebook than to call your customer support. A study conducted by J.D. Power Ratings found out that 67% of consumers use social media for customer care. Another survey reported that 36% of people who had a negative experience with a brand will turn to social media to post about it.
Leading brands get hundred of such mentions each day, to the point where they have to set up separate accounts just for social customer service. It’s so easy to miss a message from a customer in a situation like this. Moreover, some people on social don’t even tag a brand using an @ sign and they go unnoticed by brands. It’s impossible to find such mentions without a social media listening tool. It gives you the capability to discover these mentions and respond to them, improving your customer experience.
Here’s an example from Sonos. The customer didn’t even intend to tweet directly at Sonos and just mentioned his disappointment as a part of an unrelated conversation. Sonos was able to discover this conversation right away and get involved.
Type of keywords to track
The best way to find mentions which require customer care is to analyze the emotion behind them. You’ll find that most social monitoring tools now offer you sentiment analysis. This feature divides mentions into positive, negative, and neutral.
To discover unhappy customers, set up the keywords mentioning your brand name as well as the name of your products (if you sell more than one product) and choose a filter to show you negative mentions first. That way you’ll be able to find disappointed customers and notice if there are any malfunctions or glitches in your product right away.
The main rule of business is supply and demand. That’s why it’s so important to understand what people need to become successful. A lot of marketing budget is spent on trying to answer this question. We set up focus groups, send out surveys, and ask for feedback all with one goal – to give our customers the product they want to buy. This is the natural order of things, but for some reason, many companies are still ignoring the fastest, easiest way to find out what people want.
Social media is a great source for customer insights. Just by monitoring the phrase “I wish apple” I was able to find more than 500 social posts that express different ideas on how Apple could make their products better. This social media feedback could give businesses a clear understanding of how to make their products more appealing and their customers happier.
Take a lesson from the fast food chain Wendy’s. Wendy’s is famous for its social media presence and they are making use of everything social media has to offer. Through the application of social listening, Wendy’s discovered that one of the main concerns for people when going to a fast food restaurant was nutrition – they didn’t know the nutritional content of the food and, therefore, were concerned that eating at Wendy’s could break their diet.
Once Wendy’s became aware of this demand, they developed an app that would give a user information about calories and nutritional elements in each item on Wendy’s menu and enable a user to design a meal according to their meal plan.
Thanks to social listening, Wendy’s was able to improve their product and attract an unlikely audience that wouldn’t go to a fast food chain otherwise.
Type of keywords to track
Apart from monitoring your own brand name, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the buzzwords relevant to your industry. You’ll be able to get a better idea of what features people want, and this might provide you with inspiration for future launches.
Set up a spreadsheet to come back to these ideas when you’re brainstorming a new project.
Don’t forget to monitor your competitors’ brand names too – you may discover what people want from other companies, then you might be able to offer it to them with a new launch later.
Marketing through influencers is not a new thing, but it’s come a long way since Michael Jordan was promoting sneakers. Now you have a way to promote your product through channels that people actually know and interact within their day-to-day life. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whilst only 33% trust ads. That makes influencer marketing one of the most efficient ways to sell.
And that’s not surprising at all. Influencers have an audience who trusts them and that’s why their recommendations are more effective. Influencers win their audience by giving them valuable content which makes them a figure of authority, but at the same time, they create equal and genuine relationships with their audience.
Consumers value authenticity and while the perception of brands as “authentic” is quite rare, influencers make authenticity the core of their relationships with the audience.
Type of keywords to track
The easiest way to find an influencer to collaborate with is to look who’s already talking about your brand on social media. So you just need to take a look at your brand mentions and find people who have a significant following. Many social monitoring tools offer a social influencer feature so you don’t even need to analyze all the social media stats yourself.
You can also track buzzwords relevant to your industry and find people in your field who create useful or entertaining content and engage with others.
Social media is one of the most efficient ways to market, with some 74% of consumers now reliant on social platforms to help guide purchasing decisions.
As a general rule, the more active you are on social, the more people you reach. But even if you’re posting every day, you’re still only reaching the audience which is already aware of you. However, there is a way to contact people who are interested in your type of product. How? You guessed it, through social listening!
How many times have you seen posts which start with “Can anyone recommend” on Twitter and Facebook? Imagine if your company was the one they’re looking for. By using a social listening tool, you can find sales prospects who are already interested in your type of product and promote your brand specifically to them.
Remember, that not every new lead needs to become an instant sale. Nobody likes being treated merely as an opportunity to make money, so don’t be an aggressive pitcher.
Try creating meaningful interactions, respond to people’s questions and be helpful. That way you can create a positive image of your brand, which will help you stand out.
Type of keywords to monitor
Monitoring your competitors is always a good idea. Besides all the obvious benefits, you’re able to find their unhappy customers and offer them to switch to your services.
Another great way is to try to think of the keywords which users may use when they ask for recommendations. Based on this, you can use specific keywords to improve your results. If you want to use a social listening tool for sales prospecting, it should have flexible settings. For example, Awario built a social selling tool which uses social listening but doesn’t require you to make up phrases which express a buying intent yourself. Instead, you just put in a description of your service or product, and Awario Leads finds sales prospects for you.
The main idea I want you to take away from this article is that social media listening can improve your business on every stage of its development. With it, you can both do research and implement your marketing strategy.
Social listening software is a true Swiss Army knife of social media tools meaning it has something for everyone. That’s why I encourage you to dive into the world of social media listening and discover what it can do for your business!
Recommended Social Listening Content from This Blog:
- From Alimony to Fraud, Social Listening Can Be An Investigator’s Best Friend
- Will Social Research Replace Traditional Market Research?