What Is Social Listening & Why Does Your Business Need It?

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Social Media never sleeps, and neither do the conversations happening about your brand. They are happening as you read this. Social listening is vital to any brands social media strategy; you must be able to leverage social listening to uncover and decode your brand’s mentions (and join the conversation).

In effect, social listening is the “process of monitoring social media platforms for mentions of your brand, your products, competitors, and any other themes or ideas relevant to your business”. You must be able to analyse the information collected for actionable insights. This can range from simply engaging with customers, to completely shifting your overall brand positioning strategy.

Brands usually use social listening to achieve business goals. This can be done by using the following aspects of social listening to full effect:

  • Attracting new leads
  • Identify brand advocates and/or influencers
  • Improving business customer care
  • Shadow the competition
  • Figuring out your customers most-used social platform
  • Obtaining feedback on products and services

According to Sprout Social, social listening “can inform brand content that has a much greater potential to resonate with your audience by leveraging the ways they’re already acting and engaging on social”. You can read their full 2017 Q4 social index report here

Please don’t expect to deliver any of the initiatives listed above without understanding how people are already talking about, and engaging with your brand…

We believe the first thing you need to understand is sentiment; the attitude or opinion an individual has of your brand. Sentiment can be broken down into 3 main categories; Positive, Neutral, and Negative.

Keeping track of social mentions can  be quite time consuming. Let’s face it, most small business owners don’t have the time to scroll through news feeds looking for social mentions, that’s why there are FREE tools to help you out.

There’s Google Alerts and Mention. The latter finds your brands mentions as well as showing sentiment. Pretty good for social media starters.

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Who’s Doing All of the Talking?

Short answer: Everyone.

Consumers are more likely to share life happenings on social media than in real life. This fact alone should prove how important social media is to people for personal conversations and sharing milestones.

Brands are right in the thick of it. Consumers love to mention brands when posting on social media:

  • 34% of consumers want to thank a brand
  • 50% of consumers include brands in their milestones
  • 34% do it looking for an incentive from the brand (discounts/freebies)

The stats above should have you itching to use social listening to pinpoint and join in with crucial conversations surrounding your brand and industry.

Use these 3 techniques to kick-start your social listening game:

  1. Use Keywords

It all begins with keywords. You should be focusing your search efforts to find relevant keywords and phrases people use when searching for your brand, products, and services you offer.

When using tools like Sprout Social and Mention, you can input and follow the keywords surrounding your brand, making it much easier to look at the data surrounding your brand s keywords and phrases.

  1. Get The Right Tools

Along with the 2 FREE tools mentioned above, Sprout Social have a comprehensive listening tool that allows for real-time brand monitoring and social data analysing for marketing insights. We cannot rave any more about using tools for social listening; it makes your life so much easier! Take a look at Sprout Social’s FREE trial here.

  1. Engage With Consumers

Social listening is one thing, but engaging with your audience requires meticulous planning and intelligent responses to the conversations surrounding your brand you uncover online.

You will likely find all sorts of conversations about your brand or keywords. This includes compliments, recommendations, reviews, and the dreaded complaints. Just ensure you have an engagement strategy to address each mention.

But How Do You Join The Conversation?

Social listening is used to discover the audiences fro you. Using listening to join the conversations is what social media is all about.

Here’s a few ideas on how you can be ready to jump in to any conversation and give audiences what they want – engagement.

  • Give Appreciation –

When people are sharing their ideas, suggestions, and opinions, utilise them to your advantage. Engage with your audience and give appreciation to their comments, then to bolster your brand’s loyalty and trust, tell them how you did.

  • Give Incentives –

Everyone is looking for a deal or discount wherever they can get one. Be ready to offer something for a shout-out, comment, or review when you feel your audience deserves it. Keep incentives to a minimum unless you are having a brand sale or want to grow your audience rapidly. For example, we have seen some brands offer a 10% store discount for every referral or retweet.

  • There’s No Time Like Now –

By that we mean engage with your audience in real time, or as fast as possible. The average users expects a reply within around 4 hours, however, most brands take as long as 10 hours to respond.

Best practice for comment replies is to wait until the end of each day (6-9pm), assuming you posted during the day. By waiting until the end of the day, you allow for the content to run its course through user’s news feeds.

When the engagement is pretty much maximised, you should start responding to comments with full force, remembering to add value and ask questions as you go! This will bump the content back up in the news feeds for even more users to see what you have to offer.


Final Thoughts

Now you know there’s people out there talking about your business, good or bad. It’s your responsibility to locate those conversations and guide your audience in a direction that grows your brands awareness, and ultimately increase your social ROI.

So how are you currently using social listening at your company? – Let us know in the comments below…


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