How to use social listening to create your content strategy

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You can hit a roadblock when developing content or a content strategy. For example, how do you make your brand stand out in a sea of competitors? Who are you trying to communicate with when you are writing this content? All these questions probably tumble in your head as you are developing a content strategy, but how do you find the answers without guessing?

Try listening instead of asking. Social listening can help you fill in many of the gaps when creating your content strategy.

What is social listening?

If you are unfamiliar with this activity, you might be wondering what social listening is.

Social listening is “listening” or reading your customers’ opinions on your company, brand and products or services. This technique is also closely tied to reputation management. By reviewing social activity and having a reputation management strategy in place, you can seamlessly encourage positive reviews and counter negative ones.

Compiling and learning from this information involves regularly monitoring your social media channels. Also, look at where people can leave reviews, like on Google My Business and Yelp. Look out for mentions, keywords, and direct messages. Look at what your competitors say and what their customers say about them. There is valuable feedback buried within those comments. You can see what is and isn’t working based on what those directly using your products or services are saying.

Social listening may seem like an abstract philosophical term; however, it is one of the effective digital marketing services and tools.

Once you have compiled those comments and mentions, it is important to analyze them and read between the lines. Social listening can help you see what changes you need to make in your marketing and potentially what improvements you can make with your products and services. Now, utilizing social listening doesn’t always have to be as big as changing your whole marketing strategy or product line; it could be as simple as responding to a happy customer’s comment.

So, it is essential to regularly monitor your online presence for mentions of your brand, competitors, products, and keywords related to your business.

Social listening can help you to identify trends

Sometimes we need a little direction on what marketing tactics to use. How do we know what will and what won’t work without some insight from those consuming your content — your audience? Social listening can identify trends in marketing. You can take a peek into what is and isn’t working for your competition. Also, look at what your customers are saying and asking for.

Look at what type of content your competitors are putting out, and what your audience is attracted to. For example, do they like videos, what social media platforms are the most active on, and do they respond well to user-generated content? You can even gain insight into what hashtags your customers use to find similar products or what your competitors use.

Using social listening to identify trends allows you to create content widely received by your audience and help more people find you.

Social listening from influencers

They are called influencers for a reason and have a lot of influence over social media users.
They have an ear to the ground on trends. Influencers can even change the course of an industry. Therefore, it is important to include influencers in your social listening strategy. This isn’t to say you have to work with influencers; instead, you can learn from them.

Identify who the relevant influencers are for your target market. Are they talking about products or services like yours? Does their audience show an interest in your industry?

Take note of what kind of content they are putting out and what keywords they are using. You may see a similar type of reception on what you produce by emulating that content.

Social listening for competitor analysis

It can be a little overwhelming seeing everything your competitors put out on social media. However, you can use that to your advantage. You can utilize what is working for them and even take note of where you can fill in the gaps that your competitors have created.

When you are analyzing your competitor’s online presence, take a look at a few of the following:

  • How many followers do they have, and how are they growing?
  • How often do they post?
  • Is their audience engaging with the content they are putting out?
  • What hashtags do they use?

When performing a competitor analysis, it is also important to use a SWOT method — juxtaposing your competitors and your own social media activity. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What opportunities and threats do you have?

So by utilizing social listening, you can be better prepared to take on your competitors online and create content that your audience is more likely to respond to.

Use social listening to create user-generated content

When you are using social listening, you are looking for mentions of your company. When a person mentions your brand, they are often providing feedback and leaving a review of your products or services. If your customers leave a raving review of your company on their Twitter or Facebook profile, it is the perfect opportunity that utilizes user-generated content.

Generally, people trust a stranger’s review online versus getting a recommendation from a friend or family member. They can build trust with your brand based on what others have said about you on social media.

Plus, that is just another post you don’t have to worry about writing content for!

So keep an eye out for mentions, or when a user @’s you — it could be a valuable piece of user-generated content.

Social monitoring vs. social listening

Though they may seem like very similar tactics, social listening is actually social monitoring taken to another level. Social monitoring refers to searching and collecting data, while social listening is all about analyzing that data, defining a strategy and taking action.

In essence, social listening comes from the information gathered during social monitoring. Think of it as monitoring gives you what, listening provides you why.

But what is the point of finding and collecting all that data if you aren’t going to use it to your benefit with actionable responses? So instead, take what you learn from social monitoring to apply to your social listening actions.

The value of listening

You can gain a lot of insight from social listening if you have felt there have been some gaps in your marketing. Or maybe you have thought that the content you are putting out isn’t getting the response you thought it would.

Have you been wondering who your audience is? Gain a better understanding of who they are and what they are interested in. That way, you can create more interesting and valuable content for them. Social listening can also give you insight into what products or services your customers are vying for. Your audience may be the ones who provide you with the idea for your next and most popular product!

Social listening also allows you to notice the great feedback your customers leave about your company. Though you can do a lot more than just taking notice of a rave review, you can take advantage of user-generated content. Repost that review and spread it around!

And even if the review is not so great, you can still take control of the situation. Respond to the customer and try to find a solution. By using social listening, you can be one of the first to know when a crisis may unfold. As a result, you can avoid a situation before it can escalate. Keep an eye out for a significant change in how people talk about your company. In the end, this feedback may even help you improve your brand.

You can also gain insight into your industry. For example, what are your customers asking for? What are your competitors doing, or rather, what are they not doing? You can fill in a lot of unanswered questions and solve a lot of problems using social listening.

Final thoughts

Social listening is a powerful and actionable tool that many small businesses do not take advantage of. By listening and analyzing what your customers are saying about you online, you can learn about what your ideal clients are looking for in a product or service. You also become better prepared for negative feedback or even something that blows up online without you being aware of it.

You can even gain expert insight into what your competitors are doing to one-up them.

And remember, there are key metrics you have to keep an eye on when implementing social listening:

  • Mentions about your company
  • Relevant hashtags/keywords
  • Competitor mentions
  • Industry trends

So, if you can use social listening correctly and to your advantage, you can increase positive brand recognition and grow your business.

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