Gain a Competitive Advantage with Social Listening
Jun 21 2022
Social media plays an important role in today’s digital marketing campaigns, and savvy marketers must use every possible advantage to capitalize on the medium’s popularity. Good social media strategy goes beyond creating eye-catching visuals, using the latest memes, or writing witty captions; it includes understanding the larger online conversation surrounding your brand and acting on those findings.
Learn how social listening helps you stay ahead of the competition and discover what people really want from your business.
Social Listening, Explained
Before diving in, it’s important to understand the difference between social media monitoring and social media listening.
Monitoring focuses on metrics and data (think relevant hashtags, brand mentions, competitor mentions, industry trends) and provides the information needed for testing, measuring ROI, and justifying spend. Essentially, monitoring is driven by numbers and focuses on what has already happened online.
Listening examines the meaning behind the online messages. Think of it like search intent: there are the actual keywords in the search, but then there’s the deeper level of the intent behind them. Social media listening studies messages pertaining to your company and industry for the deeper meaning that can provide actionable insights.
Online discourse pertaining to your company goes beyond specific mentions of your brand. Industry-wide insights and trends help your team make better marketing decisions based on what people are actually talking about online in real-time instead of solely relying on what numbers-based research shows.
Why Social Listening is Essential
There are several ways to interpret social listening findings. With the right tools, you can achieve the following:
1. Gain a clearer understanding of how the public views your brand and products. A correct read on your customers’ needs and wants combined with timely responses build trust and understanding. In a world where consumers’ expectations of brands are high, it’s more important than ever for companies to know what their customers want—sometimes even before the customer can articulate it themselves. Social media listening helps brands to stay a step ahead of their customers.
2. Analyze how competitors are perceived and where your brand can offer better solutions. It’s always good to see what others are doing to keep your own content fresh and customers happy. Plus, listening offers you a quicker reaction time to of-the-moment social media happenings.
3. Study the overall impression and health of your industry. Social listening tools help to sift through context clues to assess brand perception as well as what consumers are really looking for. An analytics dashboard showing share of voice, engagement rate, sentiment analysis, and conversion rate can reveal areas for improvement.
4. Learn how people engage with your content. Customers also want to engage with brands, if only to know their voice is heard and valued. This is especially true in instances of customer service. Quick response time is imperative in these situations; with social listening, you can act on significant swings in sentiment regarding a certain product, topic, or campaign as it relates to your business.
How Social Listening Benefits Marketing Campaigns
The events of early 2020 quickly demonstrated social listening’s value to digital marketers. Without the option of in-store shopping, people spent more time searching for products online and, subsequently, sharing and comparing purchases. To stay in touch with customer needs, over 50% of marketers around the world turned to social listening.
Today, 29% of U.S. marketers regularly use social listening as part of their digital toolkit. Although this number indicates that social listening is still largely underutilized, enterprising teams can immediately benefit from readily available (and extremely valuable) consumer insights.
For example, little to no conversation around your brand could indicate a need for better awareness campaigns. Repeatedly spotting the same product questions can help to improve FAQ documents or demonstrate a need for a video tutorial. Gauge interest in new products or optimizations by studying keywords or hashtags related to your company’s product roadmap.
Social listening provides a more up-to-the-minute report on consumers’ feelings toward your brand or industry. Traditional methods, like email surveys or questionnaires, are valuable but don’t show the pulse of how consumers feel right now. It’s not necessarily delayed by much, but it could be enough of a delay to fall behind your competitors.
Social listening helps teams create social campaigns and larger digital campaigns that are more attuned to consumers’ needs and wants. Using this information to guide marketing actions ultimately creates a better customer experience where people can easily recommend your brand to friends and family.