“Shut up and listen!” : A Guide to Social Listening

26 Apr 2019 | Sukhesh Vadavil

Who would you rather talk to? Someone who says “Hey! Wanna know how my day was?” or someone who asks “Hey! How was your day”? Probably the latter. People love people who listen to people. So people would tend to love the brand that listens to people.  

Without listening, every marketing move you make is a shot in the dark. It is guesswork. And we would rather prefer a planned approach right? Proper listening can answer certain crucial questions such as:

  • Who exactly is in my audience?
  • What topics drive the most discussions among them?
  • What aspect of my product or the industry are they concerned enough to talk about?
  • What exactly do they want?
  • How can I connect with them in a more meaningful manner?

This brings us to an important aspect of brand communication: Social Media Listening. Its advantages go much beyond just satisfying your customers. An effectively executed social listening strategy can enhance brand reputation and even help you tap into the potentials of new USPs for your product.

Isn’t this the same as social monitoring?

Not exactly.

Social media monitoring is concerned with a particular brand. It is about finding the references of your brand out there in the colossal clutter of user-generated content and responding to it. It helps you detect isolated questions and comments.

On the other hand, social media listening tends to look at the bigger picture. It is about understanding WHY such comments and questions were generated in the first place. Listening is about being attentive to the cues that revolve around the entire industry including your competitors and the rookies out there.

There are nine unique advantages that strategically planned social media listening can present you:

  • Analyzing the trends in user behavior.
  • Creating the most desired product and content.
  • Knowing the influencers in your niche.
  • Weighing your brand against your competitors.
  • Finding the aspects that drove prospects to your competitors.
  • Strategy implementation differences between you and your competitors.
  • Determining customer’s emotions revolving around your brand.
  • Evaluating and enhancing the customer experience.
  • Determining the success of various campaigns.

I believe that the importance of social listening has been properly established now. Actually, it can never be overstated. It is not an option for brands anymore, it is a necessity.

Let us now discuss how to fashion an effective social listening strategy for your brand.

Know the “Why”

This is obviously the foundation of any marketing activity. Knowing your goals. Why am I doing this? What outcome do I expect from this? The resources spent must deliver value. Do a bit of market research and lead generation activities to figure out the optimal goal for your social listening strategy.

Applying yourself into customer service or reputation management activities can further tell you the most sensitive areas in the touchpoints of your brand with the consumers. SEO activities can help you figure out where to focus as well.

Find Conversations about your Brand or Industry

This path has 2 landmarks.

  • Where do your customers, prospects, or influencers digitally hangout?
  • What words or terms trigger niche-related conversations?  

The constituents in these groups need not be just your customers. It can be anyone you are aspiring to target. There could be a wide range of trigger terms. Pay attention to all those.

For SEO Purposes

If done properly, social listening can be a crucial element for your SEO activities. Monitoring brand cues can point you to linkless references. You can reach out to the owners of those platforms and ask them to add links.  

TOOLS

Humans are nothing but tool-using animals. And like every other tool, the impact of Social listening tools depends on the user. Some prominent, easy-to-use social listening tools are:

  • Awario for listening on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+, Reddit, News sites, and Blogs.
  • Agorapulse for listening on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube.
  • Tweetdeck listens only on Twitter.
  • Keyhole. Twitter, Instagram, News sites, and Blogs are listened to by this.
  • Mention for listening on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+, Reddit, News sites, and Blogs.
  • Brandwatch. Brandwatch listens across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Google+, Pinterest, Sina, VK, GQ, News sites, and Blogs.   

Listening with curiosity is a rarity these days. Communication is not a race. It’s not about filling the void between a person’s last word and the first word of your reply. Listening is in the essence of communication. And for brands, listening is the first step to serving their customers better.

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