Even though 76% of marketers say they need a data-focused strategy to succeed online, only 24% of brands actually engage in social listening. The majority of marketers are not using one of the most powerful and cost-effective methods of engaging with their audience.
So, what is social listening really?
In brief, social listening is the process of reviewing what other people are saying about your brand (or industry) online. You can use information you already have access to (like follower Tweets and Facebook comments) to better understand your digital reputation.
However, social listening is more than reading and responding to a few posts online. To make the most out of this social listening, you have to use your research to answer these questions:
How does your audience differentiate your brand from others like it?
What are some common pain points your audience experiences?
What are the most frequently asked questions, comments, or concerns your audience has about your brand?
Once you assess these questions, you’ll have action items that will improve your brand on and offline.
So, social listening is important—but how do you actually do it? Follow these tips for what to do (and not do) when reviewing customer feedback online.
Do’s of Social Listening
1. Track your keywords
You probably already have some primary, secondary, and long tail keywords picked out for your content marketing. Now, you can use them in your social listening.
2. Find micro-influencers
You might already have people with decent follower numbers raving about your brand online. Consider those people your new friends. Because they already know and love your product, they’re most likely open to partnerships and promotions.
Reach out to these micro-influencers, thank them for their kind words, and see whether they’d like to continue recommending your brand (and what compensation might be for it).
A great example of this social listening tip comes from Chrysler. You may be surprised to find such a big name brand using this tactic, but it’s a great indicator that it actually works.
In the post below, the company joined forces with the ThatDadBlog on Instagram to depict a lovely scene in which he and his young child enjoy a winter wonderland adventure, starring none other than the Chrysler Pacifica that enabled their magical journey.
3. Be creative in what you look for
The more creative you get with social listening, the better. In addition to searching social media, why not try related blogs, Reddit, or niche forum sites? You also can seek out industry-related YouTube channels and see what people say in the comments.
The sky’s the limit with social listening, so try every avenue you can think of to build a well-rounded understanding of your audience’s needs and wants.
Don’ts of Social Listening
1. Don’t limit your research to your own social media accounts
The latest social media statistics show that 96% of people that discuss brands online don’t actually follow accounts owned by that brand. So, you’ll have to use a little elbow grease to find them. Try searching brand adjacent terms like your CEO’s name or phrases that relate to your product.
2. Don’t dismiss constructive criticism
You’re more than likely going to stumble across some negative feedback eventually. But sometimes, negative feedback can be constructive criticism.
When you see negative comments, ask yourself whether there is any merit to what this person is saying. If the answer is yes, how can you apply this criticism to improve your brand and make it even better? (If the negative comment lacks merit, feel free to ignore it.)
A classic example of what not to do comes from Epicurious. It sent out a regrettable and bizarre Tweet just after the Boston Marathon bombing, telling those who were in the city what recipes they should try in wake of the tragedy. The common way brands respond to major social media mistakes is to immediately delete the offensive post, publicly acknowledge their mistake, and sincerely apologize.
Instead, the company fought back at the negative commenters by leaving the Tweet live and replied with what some interpreted as a “passive-aggressive” tweet about the fact that people thought they were being insensitive.
Had the brand taken the time to practice social listening, it could have realized sooner that its audience’s negative feedback was helpful. Epicurious did eventually delete the Tweet, but the damage had already been done at that point, especially after the inappropriate response.
3. Don’t confuse social listening with customer service
Social media is great for responding to customer questions or issues. But just answering them doesn’t mean you’re also doing any social listening.
Social listening is more about discovering people who talk about your brand but forget to tag your account. Or they have an industry-related need but don’t know to ask you directly. So while you definitely should make note of what your direct audience is saying about your brand, social listening requires you to think a little more outside the box.
Social listening is a terrific way to interact with your fans and make new ones all at the same time.
However, you still have to review your digital interactions carefully. Not everything your customers write about your brand online will be positive, but you have a lot of ways to take any kind of feedback and use it to better your business.
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