When you don’t pay attention to what your audience is saying, you’re missing out on huge opportunities to be a responsive brand or company, and to show potential customers that you’re going above and beyond what may be expected in terms of customer service.
What are your customers’ pain points? What do they love about your product or service? What are those in your industry talking about? All of these questions can be answered through social media listening. And social media listening can help you hone in on specific ways to attract and delight your customers and, ultimately, get you more sales.
What is ‘Listening’ in Social Media?
Social listening goes well beyond just monitoring your brand’s reputation. Social listening allows you to watch people’s feedback, questions, conversations or comments in order to discover opportunities or curate interesting content for those audiences.
It’s a combination of paying attention and knowing the best way to respond and act.
Social listening means you’re tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.
For example, here at CMK Marketing, we utilize social media monitoring tools in Hubspot to monitor for phrases like #SmallBusiness, #B2B, #SmallMediaMarketing, to keep up-to-date in that space. But we’ll also create lists of competitors and monitor conversations about them, as well as of ourselves. This monitoring can help us generate ideas for blog posts to share on social media, and give us an idea of the conversations taking place that we can participate in and offer thought leadership.
Social media monitoring collects every social mention and action, while listening requires analysis and reflection. With the latter, you can watch for patterns, track sentiment and draw conclusions based on where and when conversations happen.
Social Media Listening Benefits
You can use social media listening to generate new conversations, gain valuable audience insight, identify advocates or influencers, build great customer experiences for your brand, or find great talent or sales opportunities in real-time.
Here are 5 big benefits of social media listening:
1. You can generate leads
To generate new leads for your business, brainstorm keywords that people might use when researching a product you offer and track these terms across forums and social groups.
Identify pain points identified by your competition’s customers. What is it that the customer was expecting but where the competitor’s product is falling short? Reach out to these potential customers, explaining your product’s strengths and offering answers to their questions. Perhaps offer a free demo of your product.
You also can generate leads when you solve customer problems uncovered during social media listening. With this approach, you’re publicly highlighting your business’ focus on the customer – which may be appealing to future customers.
You have to strategically contribute to social media conversations to offer thought leadership and position yourself as an authority in your space. Through these conversations, you can uncover more about potential customers’ needs and expectations, and offer your solutions and how they will blow your competition out of the water.
2. Identify influencers and advocates.
Find influencers and advocates by paying attention to your social media community and those who are actively engaging. Social media influencers can be vital to your social media strategy. Think of them as your virtual brand ambassadors – telling everyone how great you are and why they should buy from you. Here’s why they can play such a big role in your business:
- 74% of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decisions.
- 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads.
After a big product launch or press release, track the link or the title of your product/service to see who’s sharing. Reach out to these people and start building a relationship. You can suggest to these influencers free demos of your product or service, or other freebies to give them a taste of what you are offering. After all, NO ONE can turn down free!
Continue to keep all of your biggest brand advocates engaged long-term. Consider rewarding them with other giveaways or special offers.
3. Improve customer care
Through monitoring what customers are saying about your brand on social media, you can jump in when necessary to put out fires or quickly respond to customer complaints or critiques.
Remarkably, some brands are not listening to social media even when they are directly messaged. According to the 2015 Sprout Social Index, 7 in 8 messages to brands go unanswered within 72 hours. That statistic is alarming, since 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they’re treated.
Social media listening also can be great for just connecting with your happy and satisfied customers. Among the top five reasons cited by American Express for why customers use social media is to praise a company. Don’t overlook this opportunity to further delight your happy clients; keeping them happy can turn them into brand ambassadors for you.
4. Get feedback on product or service
With social media listening, you can identify both positive and negative feedback as well as any potential issues early in a product’s life cycle. You can get the skinny on answers to questions such as these: What are people loving or hating? What were their expectations? Why did they decide to buy in the first place? What can we do better?
Armed with this feedback from your customers, you can get your development team on fixing the issues as quickly as possible. And be sure to respond directly to your customer to build transparency and a reputation for valuing your customers.
5. Do a competitive analysis
When done properly, social media listening will help you to gain insights into your competition. What is their marketing strategy? Where is their main presence online? Who is their target audience?
By gaining a clear picture of competitors, you can learn from their mistakes and understand how to outsmart them. Identify any failings in your own product or service marketing approach, as well as any key areas where your competition is failing.
This also gives you the chance to interact with your competitor’s customers to highlight the value of your product or service. Use insights gleaned from listening in on their conversations to figure out what people want.
Social Media Monitoring Tools to Help You Rock It: Free and Paid
Using the right tools, social media monitoring and listening can be simple, and take just a few minutes of your day. But you also need to remember to build in time to genuinely, appropriately, and quickly respond to those comments/questions directed toward you or your company.
To make your life easier, we’ve put together a list of some free social media monitoring and listening tools you might want to check out:
- TweetDeck - Offers listening tools for an unlimited number of Twitter accounts, and helps you monitor Tweets about your brand, and industry conversations. It can keep track of your Twitter lists, searches, hashtags and more.
- Google Alerts— Set up a Google alert with keywords you are tracking in your industry, mentions of your brand, as well as your competitors’ names.
- Social Mention—Monitors over 100 sources and allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across across the social world.
While those are some of the free social listening tools, there’s also a wide array of tools you can pay for, as well. Here are a few:
- HubSpot’s Social Inbox - Tracks social mentions from leads, opportunities, and customers and logs those interactions into your contacts database. You can also receive an email when someone matches an important search term you’ve identified.
- Quora — Use Quora to monitor the questions and key discussions happening in your industry. Better yet – weigh in on some of those discussions and position yourself as a thought leader, and attempt to get links back to content on your own website (great for SEO!).
- SparkCentral — Narrow down your searches, search by negative or positive sentiment, explore relevant hashtags, and much more.
- Hootsuite — Use Hootsuite to set up streams that allow you to not only monitor conversations and keywords, but respond or assign the response to someone else on your team.
How to Get Started
Here are the first steps to help you get started on social media listening:
- Determine your goal. Is it lead generation? Is it product feedback? Is it monitoring your competition? For a complete list of goals, see our free eBook.
- Choose the right monitoring tools. Based on your goal, what tool is right for the job and for your budget?
- Choose keywords and topics you want to track. We recommend these:
- Your own brand’s name (including misspellings and any variations) with and without the @ symbol
- Mention of your website (with or without the .com)
- Your competitors’ names (again include misspellings)
- Industry buzzwords
- Brand slogans
- Your CEO or public representative’s name (and misspellings)
- Campaign names or keywords
4. Analyze what type of response is required and respond genuinely and timely. Do you need to solve a customer problem? Do you need to offer a better solution that your competition has? Do you need to thank a satisfied customer? Do you need to send a directive to your development team for improving your product or service?
Ready to dive into social media listening? Check out our free eBook, How to Monitor Social Media in 10 Minutes/Day!