Approximately 2.62 billion people use social media daily, posting everything from videos, images, and selfies, to news updates and everything in-between. And importantly for brands, some of these posts are likely to be about your business. If you’re not engaged in social media listening, you’re ignoring your clients – and that’s just bad business.
But first, what exactly is social media listening?
Social media listening is the act of using a tool to monitor - or 'listen to' - what's being said about a brand (or any other keyword or set of keywords) across the social web. The first step in effective social listening is identifying the right keywords and terms you need to stay on top of. When you select which keywords to track, don’t just focus on your brand name. Here’s a sample list of the elements you might want to monitor:
- Your competitors’ brand names and product names
- Industry buzzwords
- Your slogans and your competitors’ slogans
- Public people in your company and competitors’ companies
- Your hashtags and your competitors’ hashtags
- Hashtags related to your industry
- Common misspellings and abbreviations for all of these
Staying on top of these keywords will ensure you remain aware of how people perceive your brand, what your competitor's are doing and the current trends in your field.
Now let’s dig a little deeper. Use the following tips to help you get the most out of your social media listening and how you can use social media listening to grow your business.
1. Improve Customer Service
Social media has become the go-to for many consumers who have a question, suggestion, or even a complaint. In 2013, a study conducted by J.D. Power Ratings found out that 67% of consumers use social media for customer care and that figure increases each year. Another survey reported that 36% of people who had a negative experience with a brand will post about it. Monitoring social media allows you to respond quickly online to customers who are talking about you.
It may not be a contact to the brand itself, sometimes it’s just a rant or a side note in a post dedicated to something else, but through social media listening, you have the capability to discover these comments, and respond to them, improving your customer experience.
To see if your customers are having troubles, set up the keywords mentioning your product or brand name and choose a filter to show you negative mentions first. That way you’ll be able to find unhappy customers and solve problems right away.
2. Better Understand your Audience
To satisfy your customers you need to know them first. The traditional way to get customers’ feedback is to ask them through a survey or a questionnaire, which can prove unreliable since few people like spending their time answering questions that are not directly related to them. But through social listening, you can get unbiased opinions of your customers without any effort from their side, and minimal effort from yours.
You can analyze large volumes of data and see specific opinions using your social media listening tools. Look for trends in preferences and dislikes. You might be able to detect some not-so-obvious tendencies that your audience has, and use them to your advantage.
3. Find new clients
As a general rule, the more active you are on social, the more people you reach – but you’re still limited to your followers and their friends. However, there is a way to contact people who might be curious about your product - yep, through social media listening.
For example, Hilton Hotels regularly finds potential clients by monitoring queries like “Where should I go on vacation?”. The company then offers advice where Hilton employees reach out to people to recommend places of interest in their area.
You have to get into the heads of your prospects and think of the keywords they may use when they ask for recommendations. Based on this, you can then use specific keywords and combinations to improve your results. And use this opportunity to create meaningful interactions by responding to people’s questions and being helpful – that way you can create a positive image of your brand, which will help you stand out.
4. Utilize Industry Influencers
Logically, people are far more likely to accept the advice of someone they trust - be that a friend, a family member, or these days, even a blogger whose content they like. So use these customers to promote your product! 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust ads, which makes influencer marketing one of the most efficient ways to sell.
So how do you find influencers?
Search the name of your brand to see who's already interested in it and offer them an early trial or a free product. You can also track buzzwords relevant to your industry and find people in your field who create relevant content and engage with others.
Once you establish a relationship, reach out to them and offer a collaboration - guest material for their platform, a review of your product, a paid promotion or anything else that your marketing team can think of. But don’t just leave it at that - ensure you thank them for the attention and the consideration they've given to your product, and seek their feedback where possible.
5. Keep an eye on your competition
You can learn a lot from your competition - their success will tell you what works and their failures will help you to avoid making the same mistakes.
Learn what people are saying about your rivals and their products. Set alerts for all your competitors’ brands, their campaign names, slogans and hashtags. And use this information to create engaging opportunities for your brand.
So now you see how social media listening can help you - from product development to customer service to marketing. I encourage you to dive into the world of social media listening and discover more ways to use it on your own.
Need help creating a social media listening strategy?