There are many components that make up a social media marketing strategy, some more proven than others, but today we are focusing on social listening. Are you there? Good. But are you listening via your brand’s social media channels? That’s another question. Not enough businesses are. Some of you are probably wondering,
“What is social listening anyway?”
Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.
Nowadays you’ll find that most conversations are happening online on various social media channels. This is why social listening is so important. These digital conversations are the “new word of mouth.” The great thing about this is it’s documented, available for your analysis, and can be altered in your favor if necessary. This leads us to understanding.
“Why does social listening matter to your business?”
Social listening can allow you to discover and address gobs of feedback and insight. This knowledge will allow you to change and innovate according to your customers’ needs and reinforce the positive aspects that you have in place. The fact that you are tuning in already grants you a competitive advantage over those who are not. Here’s why social listening should matter to you:
Remedy customer complaints: Many times customers resort to their social network to vent about issues they’ve encountered with certain businesses. If you are social listening you can identify those posts and address them with your organization’s customer care techniques. Once the complaint has been addressed and resolved, you’ll find what was once a negative post about your brand has become a perfect example of how your business remedies negative customer experiences — for all to see.
Get honest feedback: There’s a difference between what a customer will say while you’re in the room and while you’re not. Participating in social listening allows you to chime in on the conversations that your customers are having about you, your products or services while you are not in the room. These conversations allow you to realize what your customer cares about the most, has questions about and what needs you are currently not fulfilling. Your customers may not always tag you in the conversations that they are having about you, but it’s still important to listen in!
Find possible leads: I see this all the time. People reach out to their social network for recommendations on which business to go to for various services and/or products. Facebook has even implemented a type of status that you can post on your timeline that is specifically for gathering recommendations within an area. These are the type of posts that you should be monitoring for related to your industry. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage with a person that you know is seeking assistance that your business can very well provide.
Finding industry influencers: Ah, the influencers. You want to know who these people are. They are called influencers for a reason; they can make or break you with a tip tap on their keyboard or with a product review video on their YouTube channel. If you participate in social listening, you can first identify who the influencers are within your industry. Next, you can leverage these industry influencers to speak in favor of your brand. Once you’ve identified them, engage with them!
Staying in-tune with competitors: Remember what I said about competitive advantage? This is where it comes in. Social listening for conversations about your industry will not always be about your brand, obviously, but they may be about your direct competitors. You may find that current customers of your direct competitors are unhappy with the service or product they’re provided. This is your chance to swoop in and be the hero by suggesting they become your customer where all their troubles would be washed away with your superior service or products. You can also just take a note of it. (This also applies to positive feedback about your competitors by their customers.) Observe whether your competitors participate in social listening. Use these insights to improve your business.
How do I get started with social listening?
First, you need to identify which channels are most relevant to your business. Where do people go to talk about brands and brand experiences?
The most obvious places to look are review sites: Yelp, Google, etc. These will be the easiest monitor as they are extremely straightforward. All you really have to do is monitor these sites by going to your brand’s designated page and address the reviews accordingly.
Then there are the not-so-direct places people turn to have conversations about brands, like social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Here you will need a bit more of a strategy. Here are the steps I recommend:
I. Develop a curated list of keywords and topics relevant to your brand and industry.
Some examples to get you started would be company brand name, competitor names, brand taglines and slogans, campaign names, and industry buzzwords.
II. Choose a method of monitoring. Will you be using a monitoring tool?
What monitoring tools are out there? There’s Twitter Advanced Search, Google Alerts, Hootsuite, or just the search engine within each social channel!
III. Begin listening!
Okay, I’m social listening. What now?
If you find a great post about your brand, here’s what you do:
First, thank them for sharing their experience with their network and let them know how much you appreciate them as a client. Once you’ve done that, retweet, share, like, favorite, and so on. Do it all! You may also want to give them a treat in the form of a coupon or free item. The purpose of all this is to encourage people to post about your brand.
If you find a negative post about your brand:
Get your customer service team involved! These postings are public and should be taken very seriously. After consulting with your customer care team, relay their proposed remedy to the client on the post that they’ve shared or have them take over the correspondence. Try your best to convert that negative post into a positive post by resolving the proposed issue.
Wondering if this whole social listening stuff is working?
There are a couple of ways that you can track the success of your social listening activities. One way is observing the reaction of engaged clients via social listening. Did they post about your interaction? Do they feel that their customer experience has been enhanced as a result of social listening? Another way of gathering this information would be to create a survey asking all engaged customers directly what they felt as a result of social listening.
Love the idea of social listening, but just don’t have the time or the resources to start engaging? Drop us a line and we’ll get you started!