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A Guide to Social Listening

Listening is an important part of any aspect in life. Including in your digital marketing. You should already know that without data, you can’t improve your campaigns. But data doesn’t always come in neat, black-and-white packages.

You can’t get a full picture of how the general public is reacting to your business just from sales, clicks, likes etc. You need to know what people are saying about you. And you need to listen to what’s going on in the world of social media.This is what the art of social listening is all about. It’s about watching for any mentions of your brand, any mentions of your industry, your competitors, for specific keywords on forums on social media platforms. It’s about collating all this information, before using it to form insights and dictate the direction your marketing campaigns go in.

The information you gather from social listening is for influencing the way you run your business. It can guide product updates. It can change the way you reach out to your audience, and it can change the way your audience perceives you as a brand.

In this blog, we’re going to explain just why social listening is so important, before we present some best practices for your own social listening strategies.

Why is Social Listening so Important?

If you believe that the public’s perception of your company matters, then you should certainly take an interest in social listening. You can’t make assumptions about what your customers want. You need to know, for a fact, what your customers really need. And who better to tell you that than your audience?

Social listening is vital to the notion of buyer personas and a customer focused marketing strategy. But all this can seem a little vague. Why exactly is social listening so important?

1.       It can help you generate leads

You already know that social media is a great medium through which to discover new leads and acquire valuable, paying customers. Well, none of this would be possible without social listening.

The content you produce isn’t just for your loyal, paying customers. It’s also for those that have ‘stumbled across’ your brand (thanks to your effective targeting strategy) but haven’t bought from your business yet.

By properly implementing a social listening strategy, you’ll discover ways in which to connect with those users who may not be familiar with your brand. You’ll work out how to engage them and get those initial interactions that can lead to sales.

By understanding the kind of content enjoyed by those that mention your brand or have a clear interest in your industry, you can tailor your content strategy to maximise engagement and boost your lead acquisition

2.       You can track your success

Your customers are the best gauge for your business success. They’re the ones who can tell you if things are going well, or if you’re heading in the wrong direction. Of course, without social listening, they won’t be able to tell you either.

For example, let’s say your business was involved with a scandal or some incident that might threaten its credibility. Social listening will allow you to devise a strategy to address any loss in trust you may have experienced.

Sometimes an incident that internally feels like a huge damaging scandal may be disregarded as unimportant to the public. Social listening will help you understand whether this is the case or not. Every business deals with rude or damaging comments on social media. Mistakes are normal.

If you don’t see any upwards trend following the incident, you can be safe in the knowledge that what seemed hugely important to you at the time is in fact a pretty minor blip.

However, if you suddenly hear an outpour of negative comments following the incident, you know that a decisive strategy is needed to appease your customers. And what’s going to guide that strategy? Social listening.

Of course, social listening isn’t just useful for acting upon negative incidents. It can open up new opportunity. If your audience clearly wants a new service or if they’re all looking for the same solution, or if they clearly all face a problem, then this is your chance to be the first to act upon it.

Being the first business on the scene that effectively addresses a common problem for your audience is hugely helpful for your success. If you effectively fill these gaps in the market, you will know whether you have succeeded through social listening. If the problem seems to disappear, you’ve succeeded. But if your audience is still complaining, then you haven’t.

3.       People like to be heard

If users are making noise on social media, they want to be heard. By making use of social listening and letting those users actually know they’re being heard, you position yourself as a trustworthy, open brand that actually cares about your customer base.

These are the brands that are going to stand a far better chance of acquiring and, vitally, retaining your customers. By taking notice of your audience and responding to what they have to say, you hugely increase the odds that they will buy from you.

In fact, research shows that 48% off consumers are prompted to purchase by responsiveness on social media.

You need to see social listening as the tool that opens up really meaningful channels of communication with your audience. It’s the brands that can offer up relevant, valuable responses that truly succeed in driving customer retention and inspiring brand advocacy.

How to Socially Listen

So you know what social listening is, why it’s important, and how it can open up great opportunities for you and your business.

But how to actually drill down on your specific aims of your social listening?

How to implement your own social listening strategies that can genuinely improve the way your business interacts with your customers?

We’re going to outline four social listening strategies that will help you improve some tangible aspects of you company, so that you’re ready to implement a strong social listening strategy for your own business that actually achieves results.

First though, you need to know about the best social listening tools that exist out there. The fact is, it’s pretty tough to constantly monitor everything said about your brand or your industry across all the different platforms, collate that data and the analyse it.

There are some really useful tools that can make this process so much easier, so that you can concentrate your efforts actioning strategies to improve your online marketing.

Social Listening Tools

    1. Hootsuite 

The social listening tool offered by Hootsuite is really effective for establishing long-lasting relationships with prospective customers. It’s essentially a dashboard that displays all mentions of your brand on social media in one place, so that you can easily reply to and analyse the trends surrounding your business.

2. Sprout Social

    Sprout Social offer a tool that goes a little deeper in terms of actually analysing trends and data points, so that you can make more informed decisions based on what users are saying. These insights are clearly displayed for you and absolutely invaluable when it comes implanting a social media strategy that takes your audience’s opinions into account.

3. Awario

    This is a new social listening tool that offers affordable monitoring of your web presence, so is suitable for a business of any size. This doesn’t make it any less comprehensive than the two previously mentioned tools. Awario offers great insights in genuine depth, allowing you to take control of your social strategies.

Of course, it will take research from yourself to really find the tool that suits you best. These are three effective tools, but as your business has its own set of unique requirements, take the time to really find the tool that would work best for you. Anyway, here are those four social listening strategies we promised you:

1.       Social Listening for Customer Satisfaction

This is a big one. It’s all very well looking for new and intelligent ways to expand your business, but if you aren’t satisfying your current customers, you’re building on shaky foundations.

If you can identify FAQs, standard complaints about your business, or aspects that customers like, then you can start to address them to ensure customer satisfaction for your existing consumers.

You can do this by creating chatbots that quickly address common pain points or devise a wider strategy that aims to eradicate the issue entirely. Don’t get too bogged down in what your audience doesn’t like, though.

Identify what your users love about your brand and play on whatever it is. Base your content creation around what users enjoy. Make data driven decisions. If your audience show themselves to love your how-to blogs, create more. If it’s images or video, then centre your strategy around this type of content instead.

It’s also a good idea to take a close look at the type of people that like your content. What is the general demographic like? What are their interests? If you can get a good grasp of the people who engage with your content, you can gather invaluable information for building new, highly targeted audiences.

2.       Social Listening for Standing Out

Once your own strategies are nicely in order, it’s time to stand out from the competition. Social media platforms are notoriously competitive due to their effectiveness at marketing your business, so it’s useful to have a handle on what your competitors are up to.

You can use social listening to uncover what customers don’t like about a competitor, what they do like, what type of content consistently outperforms your own and what falls flat.

Armed with this data, you can try to fill the gaps that they are leaving. Address common pain points before they do and steal their customers. Take a look at how industry leaders are performing. As industry leaders, it makes sense that they will have a pretty good social media strategy.

What topics do they cover? What sort of content do they make use of? How do they post it and who is responding? Knowing this will provide you with a goal to set yourself so that you can undergo strategies that really work.

3.       Social Listening for Product Development

If you’re planning on developing a new line of products, or if you’ve been tasked with the creative aspect of a designing a new product for your business, then social listening can work as an unbelievably useful tool.

We’ve already discussed how you can use data gleaned from your online audience to address gaps in the market where content or services are lacking, but this also works for products.

By listening to what your audience want, you can develop products based around those desires.

Where are your competitors letting down their customers? What are they clamouring for? How are your own product lines performing? Are people reacting well to what you already have, or do they want something different?

Take notice of conversations regarding what is in favour and what is trending in your industry. If you can do this and base your product development around this data, then you will save yourself a huge amount of money on developing a product your audience may have had less interest than you first anticipated.

4.       Social Listening for Marketing Campaigns

Way too often, we see businesses set off with a social media campaign that has just one person in mind – the guy who created it. In their mind, the campaign will be engaging, valuable and successful, purely because they follow some standard best practices.

You need to not only listen carefully to what your social audience has to say in general terms, but also what they had to say about any of your previous campaigns. Which campaigns got the best statistics for impressions and engagement? What demographics did your campaigns work for?

It’s really important to listen to how your campaigns perform so that you can optimise for your future efforts. Essentially, no real improvement can be made without real, close listening.

Final Thoughts

It should now be clear to you that social listening is an absolutely vital part of your social media marketing strategy. Really take into account what the people who buy from you are saying. Their opinions really do matter, as your social media presence can make or break your business.

Invest time and energy into the concept of social listening, and see your influence steadily grow as you engage users and satisfy customers.

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