Admit it, marketers, there are times we have a bit of trouble finding the right balance between talking about ourselves and talking with our communities.
Are we truly listening to people that take the time to talk with us, write about us, spend time chatting about us and our brand? Are we really listening to what consumers are telling us, or are we listening while we think of a way to interject our brand into their conversations?
Social media listening is often also referred to as 'social media monitoring'. It's the process of finding out what's being said about our company, products, brand and team and analyzing that data. Done right, social listening can be one of our most important tools to gather intelligence about our target customers, intel we can then use in our content, business development, R&D, customer service and real-time marketing campaigns.
"But I've got a Facebook page", I hear you say, "I tweet every day at the optimal times".
Social listening is about more than simply setting up a Google Alert to see what people are saying about you on their social platforms. It's about finding where those conversations are taking place, and engaging with the people having those conversations: responding, delivering content to them that they've shown an interest in, helping them with problems where you can that they've mentioned, and giving them offers that'll enrich their lives.
If our goal is to reach a targeted group of consumers, the way to their hearts is through relevant, personalized and engaging content. How many times have you shaken your head at an ad you've been shown on social media, wondering how you, possibly, could have been targeted by that brand? It happens to me almost daily, lately. Think of it in terms of your own life - if you had a friend that constantly tried to have conversations with you that weren't based on anything you were interested in or wanted to engage about, how long would that friendship last? When you focus on social listening, you can avoid being tuned out by the people you are trying to reach - by getting to know what they want to talk about.
Here are 4 ways social listening can benefit your business:
1. Get An Edge Up Over Your Competition
You can set up keywords to monitor words and phrases that relate to your product. My tip - do variations of your product name, as well as common misspellings (if there can be any). You may find that people are complaining about a competitors product or customer service, enabling you to step in and ask them to explain what shortcomings they are finding. From there, you can show them that you're there for THEM, that they're important to YOU, explain your product's benefits and that you are available to them. This can then lead to finding new customers for your business - people will see that your brand cares about the people that are building the brand, and that makes you more attractive to potential consumers, watching your interactions. I'm willing to bet your competitors are already monitoring your brand and what is being said about it, so it's only fair for you to have the same advantage.
2. Identify Influencers and Brand Advocates
Finding out who's sharing your information and organically spreading positive attributes about your product or brand is a great way to find relationships to begin building. Who are your brand advocates? Once you know, you can reward them for their unaided help in spreading the love for your brand. A happy customer that talks about you without being asked is marketing gold. Continue to build upon those relationships.
3. Find Your Tribe
With social listening, you don't have to guess where the best place to focus your marketing efforts might be. Guess work and lost time is saved by knowing what platform is best for your social media marketing. You can see where people are having the conversations surrounding your product and talk to them there. It might be on Twitter, or Facebook or Instagram... join those conversations and get to know both your current and potential .
4. Improve Customer Service
When you're focused on listening, you'll hear both positive and negative feedback. It can easily be argued that negative feedback is better to find, because then you're being directly told how to improve. If someone's taking the time to complain, they're not yet a lost customer - that's them showing you they still DO like you, your product or brand, and are open to being helped through a problem.
Social listening requires patience and empathy to understand consumers' points of view. It might be hard at first, but try to listen with an open mind. Do not get overly defensive while you are gathering data and finding out what people are saying. There are a great number of additional benefits social listening can provide your business. So let's get out there and start learning.
Main image via Shutterstock