What is Social Listening and How Can it Improve Your Marketing?
By: Tiffany Brandon, Social Media Manager
It is hard to believe that only a little over a decade ago, our way of life was much different from the way it is now. As social media skyrocketed, many businesses flocked to social channels like Facebook to create business pages and to start building their social media presence.
At the time, simply having a Facebook business page was a competitive advantage for some businesses. And for a while, it worked. But soon, new social media networks started popping up and quickly changed the way we communicate, consume content, and do business.
Today, it’s not unique for a business to have a Facebook business page, in fact it’s abnormal if they don’t have one. To compete in today’s digital landscape, you must do more than be present. You must be creating content that provides value to the people who follow you.
That’s where social listening comes in.
In this blog, I’ll be sharing what social listening is, why your business needs it, and 5 ways your business can use social listening to better understand your audience and improve your company’s marketing strategies. Let’s dive in!
WHAT IS SOCIAL LISTENING?
76% of businesses today say that data drives their marketing success. While understanding traffic increases, number of shares, conversion rates and revenue is important – this data doesn’t always give you a clear understanding of what your audience thinks and feels about your brand. If you’re only looking at the numbers, you’re missing out on the more human side of data.
That’s social listening.
Social listening is the practice of monitoring online and social media conversations to access key insights about your brand, your industry, and your competitors. It’s hearing what people are saying socially and leveraging those topics, events, keywords, hashtags, or news to help you do business better.
WHY DO YOU NEED SOCIAL LISTENING?
Knowing what people are saying about you has never been more crucial for business success. When you listen through social media, you hear things customers would never “say to your face” — the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you’re a large brand, chances are you’re bombarded with hundreds of messages, comments and mentions on social media every day. On top of this, just focusing on your own profile is too narrow. You need to know what’s happening across your:
• Target audience culture
As you can imagine, doing this manually would take endless hours! You would be sifting through millions of posts in search of important information. Even a team of people could only review a fraction of the info. You’d be leaving a lot on the table. Automating this process with a social listening tool such as Hubspot, Hootsuite, or Sprout Social is essential to getting the most usable data in the most efficient way.
#1 SOCIAL LISTENING FOR IMPROVING YOUR PRODUCTS
Social listening can help your business truly understand your customer, their feelings, their needs and their pain points so that you can deliver better products and services. One company that has excelled at social listening over the years is Barbie by Mattel.
They’ve changed their dolls to better represent the current industry and culture again and again. They’ve been able to do it without losing their fan base because they always worked on well-collected and analyzed social listening data.
Barbie has long celebrated career women and has been at the forefront of movements like those encouraging girls to explore their interest in tech and science. However, over the years, the Barbie brand has been faced with loud criticism from customers on social media about their products.
Customers frequently expressed that the dolls’ unrealistic body proportions could potentially harm young children’s self-esteem. After extensive social listening, they added to the Barbie family:
• Tall Barbie
• Petite Barbie
• Curvy Barbie
• International Barbies
Barbie’s social media management team was listening. They could see through the social data a changing culture that promotes values like body positivity and healthy at any size as well as love and acceptance of various body shapes. The launch was received well by the public and fans alike. But had there been a backlash, they had that real-time data and a social media team ready and waiting to respond.
#2 SOCIAL LISTENING FOR ANALYZING THE COMPETITION
Did a major competitor just “call you out” in their new ad campaign? What would happen if you didn’t even notice? You would just start losing customers, and you wouldn’t know why. You may need to respond, but you can only respond if you’re listening.
Did your competitors’ prices just go up, sending shock waves through their customer base? You may be able to convince their disgruntled customers to switch. Did they just launch a new product? You may need to reiterate why you’re still the best. Cellular companies do this all the time.
Social media is where your competitors put it all out on the table. As a savvy business leader, it’s important that you’re making note of the cards they play on these platforms.
#3 SOCIAL LISTENING FOR SHOWING THAT YOU CARE
The last thing you want is to develop a reputation on social media for all the wrong reasons such as bad service, unhappy customers, and other issues that can cause negative conversations to circulate about your business.
Listening may seem passive, but it is most certainly an action. People know when your business is listening. A listening business is better able to connect with customers. A listening business addresses product concerns promptly and is always improving.
Explore new ways to show customers that you’re connected with them, their values and their world. That’s how to generate loyal customers who want to share your brand with others.
#4 SOCIAL LISTENING FOR EVALUATING CONVERSATIONS ACROSS PLATFORMS
Social listening can help you manage conversations across all social platforms – even ones you are not a part of. Even if your brand isn’t active on Twitter, your customers can still be having conversations about you on that channel. Wouldn’t you want to know what they are saying?
Keeping a pulse on all social channels can even help you determine which platforms are most suitable for your brand to be on. Being able to know where the most chatter about your business is coming from may influence your decision to expand onto another platform or put more of a focus there.
Because you listened, you already know that you have a fan base there just waiting to be engaged.
#5 SOCIAL LISTENING FOR FINDING INFLUENTIAL FANS
Is a famous athlete, influencer, actress, pop singer or local celebrity a fan of your business? When you listen on social media, you learn more about who’s talking about your brand.
These could be potential partnerships waiting to happen. If you’re listening on social media, you can find posts like this from people your target audience already follows.
If someone influential already uses your product or service, it won’t take much convincing to get them to share more about your brand — perhaps for a fee and in some cases for free.
Social listening is about awareness, and awareness is the key difference between strategies that succeed versus strategies that fail. Social listening can provide great insights into your industry, your target audience, and help you make better decisions for future marketing campaigns. To learn more about how MassMedia can help your business become a better listener, contact us today.
Sources: Sprout Social