You may have heard lots of digital marketers talking about a little something called social listening of late. Social listening might sound like something you do around the dinner table, but it’s actually an effective digital marketing method that uses social media to improve brand performance and customer experiences. But how? Well, that’s exactly what we’ll be discussing today, along with some expert social listening strategies that you can try out!
What is social listening?
Social listening is a digital marketing technique that tracks conversations and mentions that take place on social media platforms. In other words, social listening is about tracking engagement around a specific topic and using these insights to improve customers’ experiences.
By applying social listening, brands get a better understanding of the conversations being had by customers around their own brands, products, and services. It’s a bit like the old-fashioned feedback survey but lives, living, and breathing. It also means you don’t have to ask customers to engage in feedback — on social media they’re doing it anyway and at a great scale!
In short, social listening uses social media monitoring to garner new insights about your business and improve services accordingly. It’s another way of having a voice of the customer program to track unfiltered customer sentiment, interest, and engagement in real-time instead of you having to trawl through reviews on a review platform, for example.
How does social listening work?
Social listening techniques can be applied manually, but it’s most effective when automated. Instead of getting someone to shift through social media posts one at a time, social listening tools automate the process using advanced crawlers to derive detailed analytics and data insights from across your social media platforms.
Social media listening software is a tool that will monitor and analyze all online conversations about your brand or a specific topic that you choose to focus on. These productivity tools crawl social media platforms and identify keywords and mention relevant to your research topic. Neat right? In just a moment, we’ll share three of the best social listening platforms out there right now.
Social listening vs social monitoring: what’s the difference?
If you’re reading this and thinking, “isn’t this just social monitoring?” then you’re not alone. These terms get used interchangeably quite often, but there is an important distinction between social listening and social monitoring that digital marketers should be aware of.
Social monitoring is the process of identifying and responding to individual brand mentions, hashtags, and trends. Social listening, on the other hand, goes one step further and uses these mentions as unified data to make customer-focused improvements.
How can social listening help your business?
Social listening is proving a major asset in business so it’s well worth incorporating into leadership training for business management. Benefits include improved customer service, increased competitiveness, the discovery of the most relevant online influencers, and the ability to easily identify trending content.
Social listening, in other words, allows us to understand more deeply what our customers are interested in, how they feel, and what they need. For example, you might find that your customers love your document management software but have expressed that they would appreciate a way to sign electronically online. By monitoring real-time customer sentiment, social listening provides brands with the context around customer experiences and feedback.
With this information in tow, brands can improve communications by posting content and using language that customers resonate with most. It’s really a mutually beneficial process. Social listening improves customer experiences by listening to what they want and need which, in turn, converts into improved engagement, more conversions, and increased long-term ROI.
Social listening strategies and best practices
So, we know that social listening is a good idea, but what’s the best way to go about it? How can we go about tracking trends and issues to create a better marketing strategy? The good news is that social listening can be used in so many different ways.
These techniques can be applied to help teams improve digital marketing campaigns, create more personalized experiences, keep up with competitors, and improve customer experiences all around. Below we’re going to discuss some of these social listening strategies in more detail.
1. Use social listening to design more successful campaigns
Social listening offers digital marketers an opportunity to design more successful campaigns. By tracking relevant trends and issues related to your brand, you’ll be able to target customers with relevant Ads.
Social listening helps us track trends that we can then leverage in our Ad campaigns. For example, through social listening, we might find out that our customers respond well to offers and competitions (in which case it would be a good idea to incorporate offers and competitions into any upcoming influencer marketing campaigns).
2. Use social listening to create personalized experiences
If one thing is important in marketing today, it’s customer-centricity. Today’s customers want to be treated like individuals and that means brands need to personalize interactions with each customer. Luckily, social listening helps with this too.
By using the information that customers share on social media, we can learn what our customers want and need directly from the horse’s mouth. Once we’ve “listened” and taken in this information, we can hone our customer experiences so that we’re giving our customers exactly what they’re asking for.
3. Use social listening to create better products
Social listening isn’t solely about improving customer experiences, it’s also about creating better products. By using social listening as a continuous customer feedback form, brands can better understand how customers really feel about their products.
A good social listening tool will crawl social media channels to identify key customer pain points, potential brand or agency partnerships, and trending customer vantage points.
4. Use social listening to keep up with competitors
Want to improve your competitor analysis and stand out from the crowd? Social listening can help with this too. You won’t even need any training on data analysis.
You can use your social listening tool to track any vertical (including your competitors). In fact, tracking your competition can be just as important as tracking your own brand mentions.
Remember that what’s trending with the competition will impact how customers interact with and perceive your brand too. We might say that social listening software is the equivalent of smoke test software for marketers.
By tracking the competition, you’ll be able to identify what does and doesn’t work in the competition’s communications strategy ahead of time and embrace/avoid similar things in your own upcoming marketing campaigns.
5. Remember to consistently monitor the data
Finally, remember to monitor your social listening data consistently. Social listening is a living and breathing exercise, meaning that you can’t just hit it up once and never again. This is not a dine-and-dash scenario.
For social listening to work it needs to become part of a long-term strategy. I recommend selecting a few key metrics that you’ll monitor consistently throughout campaigns. Here are a few examples to get you started:
- Engagement rate: the rate at which users interact with your content.
- Share of voice: tracks your mentions in comparison to your competitors.
- Sentiment analysis: assesses how people feel when they talk about your brand.
- Conversion rate: tracks how many people take a desired action (e.g purchase).
Best social listening tools
Unless you’re planning to do your social listening manually, you’ll need a social listening tool to help you. We’ve selected three of the best social listening software options out there right now that will help you start garnering as many insights as possible.
Big data certification courses won’t be necessary. All of these tools are designed to be user-friendly and easy to incorporate into any digital marketing strategy. Let’s take a look.
Crowdfire is a social media management platform that makes it simpler to manage social media accounts from one place. With Crowdfire you can discover the content that your audiences are engaging with and schedule relevant content to share with them.
The platform lets brands create beautiful, customized, posts effortlessly and publish them automatically at the best time for the highest engagement levels.
- Image curation
- Advance scheduling
- Custom best times to post
- Customize RSS feeds
- Report Builder
- Advance analytics
- Competitor analysis
- Instant reply to mentions
Socialbakers is a social media marketing software that monitors business profiles across social media platforms. The tool can be used to harness audience insights and monitor what is being said about your brand online.
Users can then use this data to create a weekly schedule template of content and engage with comments and tags automatically.
Mediatoolkit is a media monitoring platform that will notify users when their brand is mentioned online on social media, blogs, or web articles. The tool provides a way to track mentions and garner audience insights from across the web with advanced data analytics that track sentiment, engagement, reach, and other influencers.
Social listening is a great way to get to the bottom of what your customers really want. Social media platforms are thriving and it’s about time brands start harnessing those insights. Listening is a great way to identify customer pain points, interests, and needs to inform better products and services that drive long-term engagement and satisfaction.