Whatever field you work in, people are probably talking about your brand as you read this. Thanks to the advent of social media, millions of conversations have migrated from street corners, living rooms and school gates to Facebook feeds, Twitter, and chat forums.
Businesses are understandably anxious to know what is being said, and how they can use these conversations to their advantage. However, actually monitoring and influencing online discourse isn’t a simple matter. To do so strategically, businesses need to learn how to track conversations and respond rapidly.
In other words, it’s time to learn social listening. But what does this key term mean, and how can you harness it to your advantage?
At its simplest, social listening is real-time online market research. Instead of using surveys and phone calls, social listeners use tools which track what people are talking about on relevant social media platforms.
They can then use the data generated to assess whether conversations are positive or negative, what is driving people to discuss a brand, what subjects come up most often, and what themes are most shareable.
The process has three major components. Firstly, there’s the listening part, which generally monitors social media automatically and passively. If listening tools are set up effectively, this leads into the second part, analysis.
Finally, social listening always leads to a third component: action. Everything is intended to allow companies to take actions to boost their brand. But how do you go about putting this into practice?
Firstly, there are many tools on the market, and not all will meet your needs. If you are keen to dive deep into Twitter or Facebook conversations, Awario may be the best way to go. Its Boolean search function provides maximum scope to deep dive, but can be overly complex for some users.
If you want something simpler, Brandwatch could be ideal. It provides clear visualizations of keyword mentions on pretty much any social media platform and covers videos and images as well. You can even mix specific analysis with industry trends with pricier packages. But the entry-level version should suit most customers.
2. Know what questions people are asking about your brand
One of the most valuable insights you can derive from social listening is what drives people to find out about your products. Every product and brand has its own set of customer queries.
For example, if you sell tents, you may find that “what are the best music festival tents” is trending. If you’ve been tailoring content to adventure-themed vacationers, that could point you towards a better content strategy.
Generally speaking, if you know high-value questions relating to your brand, you can make content creation more effective, building both brand awareness and SEO rankings.
3. Keep track of the competition
Every company has competitors. That’s just the nature of business. And if you know why your competition succeeds while you fail, you’ll be far more likely to set that right.
Social listening often provides direct evidence of how customers see your products relative to alternatives. It can raise alarms if buyers start to prefer the look or comfort of clothing brands, or if your brand develops a reputation for unreliability.
In any case, knowing your enemy is essential, and by listening to social media chatter, you will be in a much better position to keep them in second place.
4. Find out who matters in your sector
Our final tip, for now, is absolutely crucial. Many (if not most) businesses now rely on intermediaries to get their message out on social media. This could be fashion or cosmetics influencers on YouTube, IT experts on LinkedIn, or product reviewers on high-value magazine sites.
Finding these influencers can often be problematic, but this is another area where social listeningexcels. By tracking which social media users have the widest reach and linking that to core keywords, you can isolate the best third parties to work with.
It’s much better than simply reaching out to big names. You may well be surprised by the reach that relatively minor individuals can have on specific issues. And you can only find out by listening carefully.
Listen carefully and act accordingly
If you learn how to social listen, you’ll be in a great position to plan marketing strategies and make your budget go further. You’ll build a stronger brand, get to know your audience, and – eventually – see major benefits for your bottom line.
However, translating listening into conversions isn’t automatic. High-quality content is still needed to exploit customer questions, influence conversations, and boost your brand. At greatcontent, that’s our speciality. So, listen hard, analyze away, and feel free to get in touch. We’ll craft content that gets your message across.
Text: Sam Urquhart