If you're in a creative business and have ever created content, you know how important it is. But you probably also know sometimes dry spells and failures come with content.
Every business wants to read our audiences’ minds to understand their pain points, needs and meet their expectations with relevant solutions. But how do we do that?
Enter social listening.
While it's not entirely possible to find out all about your audience, social listening gets you very close to what resonates with them. It helps you improve your content, refresh ideas, and provide high-quality solutions to all your customers' challenges.
What is social listening?
Social listening is a two-way process to understand the conversation surrounding your brand online. This includes collecting and analyzing data from all the different channels that talk about your brand, including websites, social media networks, online forums, and more.
This simple awareness technique helps you understand your customers’ problems and what you can do to resolve them. You can think of it as a research process about your target audience and how they perceive your brand.
Why is social listening important?
Social listening gives your content the edge it needs to succeed. It helps you understand your audience better. Here are some of the reasons why social listening is important:
- It helps you lose confirmation bias. Social listening dispels a predefined idea of your brand. Real customers talk about it online and most likely share their honest opinion.
- Helps create happy customers. If you don't interact with your customers, can you really know if they’re happy or facing problems? Social listening provides customer feedback, which is paramount in building a good customer experience.
- Gives you new content ideas. Content creation is tricky, but it’s one of the crucial pillars for your brand’s growth. As you grow, your audiences and their priorities can change. If you practice social listening, you can develop new products or services, provide useful content, and solve your audience's problems. You can further repurpose this content via social media, podcasts, videos, and more to get the most of it.
- Puts down fires before they happen. You can stop a predictable crisis and address it promptly to maintain your brand’s image with social listening.
6 social listening strategies
As our daily lives shift online, consumers interact more with well-known or established brands because they trust that they offer the right product or service. Developing a comprehensive and actionable social listening strategy is key to building potential customer relations and customer trust.
Here are six social listening strategies to get you started.
1. Monitor competitor content
Keeping an eye on your competitors is just as important as monitoring your brand. That way, you'll know how to adapt to new business moves, spot content gaps, and create relevant content. Analyzing your competitors' content will help you identify unaddressed or poorly addressed user problems and guide your social listening strategy toward understanding how your product or service can be a potential solution for them.
2. Have one-on-one customer conversations
Personalized conversations are common in the user experience (UX) community, but other sectors overlook them. A personal conversation with your customers can help you identify their pain points and offer solutions. Set up a routine call with your customers if you have the right resources. Ask them about their experience with your offerings and how you can improve them.
3. Read your brand’s reviews online
If you read a negative review about your brand, does it make sense to respond and participate in such conversations, or is it better to ignore them and move on?
Many companies ask for reviews but rarely tackle or respond to them. Your customers are people, and they understand mistakes happen. When you stand by your mistakes and offer better solutions, they appreciate your approach and may return to you.
4. Engage in meaningful conversations
Social media is no longer a one-way channel. You can now use it to talk to your customers, answer questions, and respond to comments.
Your social media content can trigger reactions, comments, reposts, or even viral trends. This gives you more insight into your target audience – what works and what doesn't. You can use this information when creating new content, advertisements, and publications.
5. Answer customer questions
Not sure what kind of content to create? Just think of it as an answer to your audience's questions.
Proactively listening to your audience’s problems can help you generate plenty of ideas for new content. You can do this through one-on-one customer conversations. You can also answer them through your blogs, social media platforms, and websites.
For example, if someone wants to learn how to pack a bike for international shipping, it’d be beneficial for readers to have a guide explaining how to do the job. While this isn't always conversion-oriented, it can be informative and educational.
6. Track online forums and answer questions
Traditional advertisements no longer work for most of the customers. For example, someone looking for consolidated shipment may turn to alternative channels like online forums to find unbiased information about the process and may find a suitable service offering consolidated shipment. This may include complaining about a product that doesn't work or raving about a product they love.
Keep an eye on these pages to know your audience’s preferences.
Channels like Reddit and Quora allow your customers to express their opinions. If you monitor and filter out the relevant conversations, you can interact with your target audience, address their concerns, and offer solutions.
Social listening vs. social monitoring – what’s the difference?
Although considered similar, social listening and social monitoring differ significantly. Social listening focuses on “what is being said,” while social monitoring focuses on “who is saying it and how often”.
Social monitoring focuses on:
- Social data and what to derive from it
- How often your brand is mentioned on forums or social media
- Whether people link to your social media accounts or your website
This is usually done through social media monitoring software to track and gather all relevant information through various online channels.
Social listening focuses on your target audience’s questions and issues to help you get insights from the data collected via social monitoring. Social monitoring enables you to capture the buzz around your brand, whereas social listening helps you understand the reason behind that buzz.
To sum it up, some of the main differences between the two are:
What is being said?
How often is it being said?
Why is something happening?
What is happening?
Benefits of social listening
Several customers mention your brand, product, or service and their experience with it. Most importantly, they rely on similar mentions when researching purchase options. Not just customers, many companies turn to review sites like G2 when looking for a new tool or software. Below are some key benefits of social listening.
Let's face it. You can’t have meaningful relationships with all your customers. But you can build good relationships with some of them and turn them into true brand advocates. By practicing social listening, you identify the customers who already love your product and let them do the talking.
Real-life QA of your product or service
Quality assurance (QA) is an extensive process. When you have a product or service, QA never stops. Anytime you roll out a new feature, the chances are it won't work properly, or your customers just don't like it. You need to listen to what they say about it and offer scope for improvement.
You can also use social listening to create stronger and more connected communities. By listening to online conversations and recognizing patterns, you can give your users the answers and content they’re looking for.
For example, if your customers are constantly asking certain questions, such as “What is on-demand delivery?" you can provide them helpful content on your blog, social media, newsletter, or through other communication channels.
Customer acquisition (CA) is crucial for creating a successful product. Attracting a constant stream of new users while keeping the existing ones satisfied ensures growth. But customers are often your biggest advocates and the driving force behind UA. By enticing them to share positive experiences and leave reviews, you can increase your brand’s visibility and drive user acquisition across multiple channels.
Social listening metrics
The easiest way to measure social listening is through social listening metrics. Social listening metrics track customer engagement and behavior and help further your social listening strategies. Some of these metrics are discussed below.
Share of Voice (SoV)
Share of Voice (SoV) compares how much value your brand holds in a market with your competitors. The number of mentions or total reach tells you part of the story, but SoV gives you an enhanced perspective. It can show you when your brand awareness is changing and growing.
How is SoV calculated?
SoV = Number of mentions of your brand/Total brand mentions x 100
Sentiment analysis uses natural language processing (NLP) or machine learning to analyze online conversations and determine the context and sentiment around them. Data used to research such conversations are collected from different engagement channels and interpreted using NLP. It can tell you what customers think of your brand compared to your competitors.
Examples of statements that can be analyzed via sentiment analysis:
- Positive: "I enjoy using this product."
- Negative: "I find the product slow and flawed."
- Neutral: “Uh, the product is ok. Could be better."
Competition analysis aims to identify other brands’ strengths and weaknesses in your market segment and compare them with your brand. What content do they create? What questions do customers ask? Better yet, what are you missing out on? Which questions could remain unanswered, to which you can give answers?
Competitor analysis can be done in three steps:
- Identify your competitors
- Analyze their online presence and content
- Think about the loopholes where the opportunity lies
Various factors determine the conversion rate, including analyzing the number of leads, registrations, or downloads. For example, if you run an email marketing campaign with a call-to-action (CTA) to download your new app, the number of app downloads divided by the newsletter recipients is the conversion rate.
Because conversion rate is such a versatile metric, it’s only understood compared to other metrics. It helps you know if you met our business goals, but you still don't know how you met them, where the prospects are from, and what we can do to improve their experience. For this reason, we should critically examine the conversion rate in comparison to other metrics.
Influencers, the mythical beasts of social media, revamped marketing. Today, anyone with a smartphone and a few hundred or thousand followers can make an impact by sharing their likes and dislikes. Influencers start conversations, create social engagement, and set trends. If you haven't jumped on this trend yet, you can easily collaborate with influencers using an influencer marketing platform.
The marketing strength often lies in the numbers, but when it comes to influencers, micro and nano influencers with only a few thousand followers are also enjoying growing popularity. With the tremendous growth in recent years, influencer marketing’s cost has skyrocketed, which small brands can’t budget for. By working with micro-influencers, brands can avoid stretching their marketing budgets and benefit from them.
Increase customer advocacy with social listening
Many companies still struggle while creating content and connecting with their audiences. How do you empower your customers and improve their experience while getting instant feedback and ideas for new content?
Just by listening.
When customers feel heard, they leave reviews, and others read them. Word of mouth is still one of the most powerful (free) forms of advertising. In addition, trust factors such as quality ratings can influence the conversion rate for your service or product.
Not every social listening strategy will work for you but don't think of it as a waste of time. Think of it as a learning opportunity and get to know your customers.
Social listening is the first step in social selling, a powerful and popular sales technique for converting potential social leads into customers.