Imagine this: you’re in the back of an elevator and a group of business leaders enters. They’re the decision makers for your top prospective client – and they’re discussing exactly what they need from you as a solution provider. You leave the elevator having overheard all the market intelligence you need to craft the perfect pitch that'll ensure they stay a happy client for years to come.
Sounds like a marketer’s wildest fantasy, right? Not anymore - this is exactly the kind of insight you're now able to glean via social listening, a social media strategy for tracking, analyzing, and responding to online conversations about your brand and your industry.
Social media listening is rapidly becoming one of the “must do” social strategies - yet, while many organizations are experimenting with social listening, there’s still a significant disconnect between insight and action. It’s easy to compile data, but it’s much more difficult to harness that data for actionable insight.
Even more difficult again? Taking action at just the right moment.
Your company stands to benefit the most from social listening when an insight is delivered to the right people at the right time, and in the form that’s most actionable for your company. This is exactly what social media intelligence does - it takes the insights gained from social listening and turns them into actionable opportunities, enabling you to maximize the impact of your social media content and engagement tactics.
“Social media intelligence delivers multi-dimensional insight into a company and its products, promotions, clients, and influencers,” according to the latest white paper from InData Labs. "Following this approach will result in deeper trend analysis, better behavior tracking and a stronger overall understanding".
To elevate your social listening, you need the right tool,s and a strategic plan to turn insight into action.
Here’s how to get started:
1. Take advantage of free tools
Already using Hootsuite to schedule social media posts?
Great news - Hootsuite is also an effective option for social listening, covering Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Within your Hootsuite dashboard, you can set up dedicated streams to monitor specific keywords, even narrowing those mentions down by geographic region if you need.
I’m also a fan of BuzzSumo, which serves dual duty as a content research platform and a tool for analyzing post reach and performance.
Take a closer look at who's engaging most with your content, and how they’re engaging with it. Are they re-sharing, posting comments or asking questions?
Next, track these content topics across social media. Who else is talking about them and what are they saying? How can you add value to the conversation?
You can then use those insights to guide your engagement strategy.
2. Respond to strategic missteps in real time
All companies - from small businesses to major brands - can make strategic missteps (Pepsi’s poorly conceived Kendall Jenner ad reigned supreme as the biggest faux pas for 2017). What you perceive as a great marketing move could turn out to be a mistake.
The key in such situations is to identify your strategic misstep and take action as quickly as possible to course correct - which social media listening will better equip you to do.
Likewise, if you’ve hit a home run, you’ll know right away and be able to capitalize on the extra attention.
3. Boost your competitor intelligence
Social media listening is about more than just hearing what your clients and prospects are saying, it’s also about listening to what your competitors are saying - or not saying, as the case may be.
What conversations are your competitors engaging in on social? Are they responding to customer concerns or falling short?
Where can you improve upon an existing process or learn from a best practice?
Identify opportunities for improving the relevancy of your messages to each audience segment.
4. Engage your biggest fans
Do you know who your natural brand evangelists are?
These are the folks espousing just how great your products and services are, without being prompted - they’ve been loyally recommending your business as a solution provider for years.
While some brands may pay a celebrity influencer to tweet about your product or service, evangelists are already doing this, because they genuinely like your company and have a vested interest in promoting it to their network.
They know your target audience because they are your target audience. Most importantly, evangelists let you know when you’ve made a mistake, and oftentimes provide actionable feedback. Why? They genuinely care about your company and want you to do better.
Don’t ignore this segment. Let your best customers know just how much you appreciate their candid comments by responding promptly and taking action.
To successfully engage with today’s customers, your business needs more than just historical social media data. Sure, it’s great to know which Facebook post performed the best last month, but this information won’t give you a complete picture of what’s happening right now.
You need “in the moment” customer insights so you can accurately target and deliver the most relevant, engaging content.
Social intelligence provides this, making it easier to understand customer sentiments, discover emerging trends, engage your biggest fans, and respond to strategic missteps in real-time.
As social networks move away from content that's geared solely for clicks, social intelligence will be even more important for connecting with customers in 2018.