The Complete Guide To Social Listening

The Complete Guide To Social Listening

How your audience perceives your products, services, and brand is the number one consideration of many businesses. However, it entails much more than monitoring KPI’s like mentions and engagement rates on social media. You need to look beyond the numbers and study the emotions behind the collected data through social listening.

In this blog, we’ll take a comprehensive look at everything you need to know about social listening – what it is, why it’s important, and how you can do it. Read on to close the gap between what your customers expect and what you deliver.

What Is Social Listening?

Social listening entails paying close attention to what people are saying about your business or competitors and analyzing this data to understand the reasons behind the comments. Monitoring social media channels, for example, lets you know the 'what' while listening tells you the 'why'. It goes beyond social media and includes industry reports, customer service, and reviews (almost anywhere you can get consumer feedback).

You can use social monitoring to establish your customer service scores, but social listening will let you know the business centers or employees that go out of their way to help consumers. Therefore, you can make various adjustments to improve your customer service. Perhaps rewarding the best centers or employees can help motivate the rest of your teams and locations.

Contrary to what most people think, social listening is not a new concept. People have been requesting feedback through customer surveys for decades. But now, advances in technology have made it possible to get this information seamlessly from public social media channels without even needing to ask. This provides an even faster way to effectively collect accurate data.

Why is Social Listening Important?

An illustration of a marketer surrounded by four talking people. The marketer is shrugging.

With 4.48 billion people using social media worldwide, it’s not hard to figure out what people are saying about different brands, products, and services. But why is it important to analyze the emotions behind comments and mentions concerning your business? Below are the top three ways social listening can help your business.

Learn More About Your Audience

People tend to share a lot of information on social media – including their gender, age, and location. All of this information is crucial to better understanding your audience and refining your campaign material to suit your consumers.

Social listening also provides sophisticated audience analytics like affinities and interests. For example, it makes it easier to establish whether the women your cosmetics campaign is most appealing to are mothers in their 40s or single people in their 20s. This information can help you target your message around topics they enjoy such as kids' activities or enjoying nightlife.

You can use social media listening tools such as Brandwatch and AgoraPulse to group online comments and mentions into source categories. Doing this makes it easier to establish social media channels that your consumers engage with most. Then, you can engage in conversations on channels where customers are more active.

Gain Insight About Audience Opinions

Thanks to social listening, you can track customer sentiment in real time. Your audience will unabashedly share what they like and dislike about your brand and your competitors, and you can plan accordingly because you understand what is happening within the industry.

Your audience’s opinion serves as a guide to help you create a successful marketing strategy. Are your competitors taking a beating in the news for something they did? Are they launching a new product or service? Is your newest campaign gaining traction?

Customer complaints can help you determine what changes to implement in order to make your customers happier and more loyal. You may discover that consumers are finding it difficult to purchase tickets on your website or there might be a commonly asked question that’s not included on your FAQ page. You can use this information to improve overall user experience with your brand, thus ensuring you boost brand loyalty.

Take a look at Taco Bell, for example. Their social media team realized that customers were frequently complaining about the cheese in the Quesalupa, so they sent out emails to restaurants reminding them to follow the recipe and guarantee customer satisfaction.

Aid Your Messaging Strategy

The business world is changing, and marketing is becoming much more than just pushing products. Customers are changing and so are their needs, values, and desires. Younger generations are increasingly getting interested in companies that market around social justice and activism.

Brands need to regularly refresh their messaging strategy to stay relevant and protect their bottom line. Here is where social listening comes into play. You can leverage it in the following ways to improve your marketing messages:

Develop/Update Personas

Your social media personas in 2016 are not the same as your personas in 2022. It’s important to update personas accordingly every few years. Social listening helps you dig into feedback from your customers and develop or update customer personas to reflect your updated messaging.

Social Media Strategy

Before rolling out new brand messaging across all channels, you can use social listening to test it out. Use social media testing to track the performance of your social media strategy before scaling up. It gives you insight into whether your new messaging performs better when it comes to engagement. You can keep track of this data and make changes where necessary.

Email Strategy

Marketing analytics is crucial when it comes to developing a successful email strategy. For example, social listening can help you establish that your highest-converting email messaging was about steep discounts. Therefore, you can refine your email strategy to emphasize affordability.

How to Set Up and Perform Social Listening

An illustration of the marketer sitting at their desk. In front of them are floating screens with social media comment threads.

We cannot overlook the fact that customer perceptions and needs are always going to change. However, we need to set up and perform social listening because these changes don't always evolve how we expect.

Let's take a look at the ice cream giant Ben &Jerry's. The company assumed that demand would be higher during warmer months and lower during colder months. However, they discovered that cold weather sales were actually way higher than hot weather sales. Through social listening, they were able to establish that extreme cold weather motivated people to stay indoors, watch TV, and eat ice cream. This inspired them to create their most successful campaign ever – the sweet and Salty Netflix & Chill'd.

Bench, a company that offers accounting services to small businesses, discovered that their audience quickly loses interest due to the complex nature of accounting issues and principles. They needed to make bookkeeping fun. Bench leveraged social listening to humanize their brand and establish themselves as industry leaders.

How can your business equally take advantage of social listening? Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up and perform social listening:

Find Your Audience on Social Media

Where are your listening locations? You can only understand what people are saying about your business when you find the places where all the talking Is happening. The first step is finding your audience on social media.

Initially, you’ll discover that the search area is quite wide. You need to analyze everything from TikTok to LinkedIn. Keep in mind that your audience is more likely to share their opinions about your brand on a channel if you’re active on that same channel.

Once you find the most active channels, you can begin to conduct more advanced searches. You may narrow mentions according to demographic and location to get precise details about your target market. That way you can effectively market to target niches within a larger audience.

Use Monitoring Tools

Once you have established your networks, it is vital to use advanced search techniques to monitor these channels. Your best option is to use monitoring tools to keep track of mentions, comments, and keywords. You can then filter the results and create more targeted search streams for social listening.

Social media monitoring helps you complete the first step of social listening – knowing what the audience is saying. Luckily, several tools in the market can help you effectively monitor mentions related to your brand. There are also numerous tools that combine social media tracking, analytics, and listening.

Not every tool will fit your brand. It is important to review the product and pricing before investing in a particular tool like Hubspot and Hootsuite. And don’t be afraid to experiment with different monitoring tools before deciding on the ones that best meet your business needs and goals.

Conduct a Competitor Analysis

Do not copy your competitors' strategies when it comes to social listening. What you need to do is listen closely and learn what they are doing right or wrong. Discover what people are saying about them, and tweak your strategies to better suit your audience.

Cristiano Ronaldo removed two Coca-Cola bottles from the Euro 2020 press conference, resulting in an immediate steep decline in sales. Mike's Hard Lemonade, however, took this opportunity to parody the moment and increase its sales.

Conduct Market Research

You probably already have specific keywords to monitor in place, but there’s always an opportunity to add more keywords and make the most out of social listening. The best way to do this is by conducting market research. For example, you can use SEO tools to find keywords that potential customers are searching for on Google. Doing this will help you define your customer interests and better target your SEO strategy.

Pay close attention to what consumers are saying online to get more sense of the jargon or keywords that your audience is using to communicate within your industry. Consumers may use certain keywords about your brand that you’re not even aware of.

You can use that same language when creating content for your audience as well. Doing this helps increase brand loyalty because you can easily connect with consumers. Use these keywords and jargon for a more in-depth social listening.

Use Information from Customer Service/Reviews

One of the main reasons to use social listening is to get customer feedback and respond – whether it be positive or negative. It’s vital to use information from customer service/reviews to improve your customer service.

Are people complaining about long wait times? If so, it will help to lower your response time and improve the service processes. That way your consumers can have their issues resolved as quickly as possible.

According to a survey by the Social Intelligence Lab, 89% of respondents found data from social listening to be highly accurate. Therefore, listening to your consumers gives you valid and trustworthy information. You can use this data to improve your brand and establish yourself as an industry leader.  

Take the Time to "Listen"

Although social listening provides valuable information, most businesses don't take the time to actually 'listen'. Most of the time, these businesses only pay attention to positive feedback and ignore the negative. But the negative feedback can help you make improvements to increase customer loyalty and safeguard your bottom line.

Next, it is vital to pay attention to the demographics of your true audience. Who is most involved with your brand, products, or services? Use this information to personalize your content and get the most engagement on social media channels.

Finally, always consider complaints and user issues. You can effectively address PR disasters before things get out of hand if you’ve been monitoring a situation from the very start. It helps you address pain points in real time while addressing common issues, thus ensuring more customers are not affected.

What's the Value of Social Listening?

An illustration of the marketer standing at a conference table. They're in a meeting with four other people. The marketer is talking about social listening.

Does social listening seem complex and not worth the time or money? Are you still not sure whether it will benefit your company? Below are ways social media listening can help your business:

Modify Your Product

What is trending in your industry? What issues with your brand or product need to be addressed? Are there any shortfalls or gaps within your industry that consumers are talking about? You can get answers to all these questions, thanks to social listening.

When done correctly, social media listening serves the same purpose as an online focus group. Your audience gets to express their opinions and recommendations, and your sales team can modify or adapt your product to suit the target audience.

Equally, you can use consumer language to redefine your marketing strategies like creating slogans that use language frequently used by consumers to resonate further with them. Doing this will increase customer acquisition and boost your sales.

How Your Brand Impacts Your Audience

Social media opens up a new line of communication that runs deeper than a traditional advertisement. You get to connect with your audience in a way that wasn't possible in the past. More and more customers aren't simply buying products or services. Instead, they are making informed decisions to support brands that align with their values.

Thanks to social listening, you get valuable feedback on how your brand, products, or services impacts the consumer. You can create marketing strategies that will keep people coming back for more. Equally, these individuals will want to share your products or services with others who they believe will receive similar benefits.

Create Custom-Tailored Messages

You can never overstate the importance of your marketing messaging. Ultimately, what you say and how you say it will define your brand. It is vital to create tailored messages that fit your audience and match your brand.

However, rolling out the same promotions or campaigns with identical messages throughout the years is never a great idea. Today's consumer wants to feel like they are part of the business, and a custom-tailored message will trigger a positive response.

Start with updating your customer personas to craft more personalized messaging. It will also help to use content from your consumers in your business marketing calendar. User-generated content has more engagement since it shows organic videos and pictures of consumers using your products.

Develop Brand Loyalty and Notoriety

Getting feedback from consumers makes it easier to keep customers happy. Whenever consumers have issues with your product or service, they voice them on social media channels. If you are listening, you will address these issues in record time.

Quickly addressing any issues that your consumers raise on social media showcases how great your customer service is. It also helps humanize your brand, which makes it easier for consumers to interact with you.

In most situations, you will turn negative customer experiences into positive ones. These consumers will consequently trust your business more and want to stay associated with your brand. After all, putting in the effort to implement consumer feedback is the quickest way to improve brand loyalty.

Time To Start Listening

An illustration of the marketer surrounded by thumbs up, heart, star, and check mark icons.

Social listening provides valuable insights into your target audience and industry. Ultimately, you can use this information to provide better-quality content to your consumers. You will also find it easier to create successful marketing campaigns in the future.

If you are looking to solidify your marketing message, social listening is invaluable. There is no better time to start than now. You need to work with a digital marketing partner that understands the importance of social marketing and how to leverage it.

At Steel Croissant, we can hook you up with all the tools you need to do proper listening. We are here to interpret any data you have to help guide your marketing strategy and to help you effectively grow your brand and establish yourself as an industry leader.

Our approach focuses on creating personalized digital experiences for your audience, thus better defining your brand. Whether you are starting out with social listening or already utilizing it, we are here to help. Contact us today to experience the benefits that come with social listening.

This post needs more time in the oven.

Sign up to be notified with it is done.

Frequently Asked Questions

Social listening is the practice of monitoring and analyzing online conversations to gain insights into audience sentiments, discussions, and trends. It goes beyond simple monitoring by actively engaging with the feedback, comments, and mentions across various social media platforms. This is crucial for businesses as it provides real-time data on customer opinions, industry trends, and competitor activities, enabling informed decision-making and proactive strategies to meet customer expectations.

To initiate effective social listening practices, businesses should begin by selecting the right tools that align with their objectives. Defining relevant keywords and topics ensures that the monitoring process is focused on areas that matter. Establishing clear objectives, whether it's tracking brand mentions, understanding customer preferences, or monitoring industry trends, provides a strategic framework for successful social listening implementation.

Implementing social listening in business strategies offers a myriad of benefits. It enhances brand reputation management by promptly addressing customer concerns and mitigating potential issues. Improved customer engagement results from actively participating in online conversations, fostering a sense of community. Social listening also provides the ability to stay ahead of market trends, allowing businesses to adapt quickly to changing consumer preferences and industry developments.

Social listening is integral to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) as it facilitates a deeper understanding of customer needs and preferences. By monitoring social media conversations, businesses can respond promptly to customer feedback, address concerns, and engage in meaningful interactions. This contributes to building stronger customer relationships, enhancing customer loyalty, and positioning the business as attentive and responsive to its audience.

Yes, there are advanced strategies for optimizing social listening to achieve business success. Implementing sentiment analysis allows businesses to gauge the emotional tone of online conversations, providing nuanced insights. Benchmarking against competitors helps in understanding industry positioning and identifying areas for improvement. Integrating social listening data with broader business analytics ensures a comprehensive approach to utilizing insights for strategic decision-making, ultimately contributing to overall business success.