What is Social Listening?
Have you ever wondered why your brand isn’t getting enough attention on social media? Well it might be. You just might not be aware of it. Social listening can help you stay on top of brand mentions and other relevant topics on social media.
Social media is a vast resource spanning several platforms. Keeping track of all the chatter is close to impossible.
However, that very chatter could make for excellent marketing analytics. People don’t typically speak about companies or brands directly. For everyone who tags you with an “@” symbol, there are probably five or more people who had a whole conversation about your brand without even mentioning the name.
Through social listening, you can tap into this chatter. You can find out what people are saying about your brand, whether they like it, and what type of person is discussing you. It’s an invaluable tool for companies and even more relevant during this information era.
What is Social Listening Analytics?
Social listening analytics allow your brand to monitor, analyze, and even respond to conversations about it on social media. Anytime your brand is mentioned (even indirectly), you’ll know and be able to use that intel for marketing purposes.
Imagine you were the owner of a kiosk in a mall. Social listening is the equivalent of someone sitting in a mall food court and reporting to you every time they hear someone mention your business. There are various social media tools that offer social listening.
It doesn’t have to stop with your brand either. You can also track competitors, products, and keywords that directly relate to your market. When other people mention the brands, you can follow their opinions/critiques and apply them to your product or service.
Don’t confuse social listening with social media monitoring. Social media monitoring is much more focused on numbers and statistics. It will track your page views and likes, but not the actual conversations people are having.
While this information is valuable, watching for people’s natural conversations is a lot more genuine.
Monitoring is also exclusive to observation. Social listening involves the action of applying your research to your business for the better. It has two steps: gather intel, use it to improve the business.
How is Social Listening Measured?
If it’s all about gauging the overall feeling on social media, how is social listening measured? Social listening is measured via the “online mood” or social media sentiment. This metric analyzes the data you’re collecting to determine whether it is positive or negative.
It’s not the kind of thing you can put an exact number on. With social media monitoring, you will have exact numerical totals for likes, shares, hashtags, and so forth. With social listening, you will just get an overall vibe of your business’s social media climate.
So, instead, you’ll probably be looking at a scale of very negative to very positive with some intermediate steps in between. However, just because there isn’t an exact numerical value doesn’t mean the data isn’t valuable.
You want your business to stay in a positive public image, so you should monitor the negative feedback you receive. If every third comment you find is a critique, then you might be in trouble. This also depends on the size of your business.
The best way to determine the correct balance of positive and negative feedback is to look at your top competitors. How much criticism are they receiving? Is it more or less than your company? What are they being criticized for? Does your company have similar issues?
By asking yourself these questions, you can get an idea of your ideal online mood. The next step will be improving your business to fulfill that goal.
Tools for Social Media Listening
If you have a social media or digital marketing manager, then they should be handling this. They should be actively running the company’s social media pages and keeping their eyes and ears peeled for mentions of the company.
One of the best ways to do this is to develop a list of keywords. You can use SEO tools or market research to find the most relevant conversation topics and queries related to your business. Your digital marketing manager can then search for those words regularly to keep the company informed.
They can also keep tabs on comments directly made about the company. It can be simple with checkmarks and grids for positive and negative. Or, they can take a complex approach by recording detailed comments and common criticisms.
Hashtags are also an excellent mechanism for social listening. If you own a designer shoe store, then following #newshoes will keep you up to date with the most popular brands on the market.
You’ll also want whoever’s in charge of your social listening to be an expert on influencers. Influencers are social media icons who have a large enough following to guide people’s purchases and lifestyles. Your brand or industry has them and knowing all their names and accounts is a major advantage.
Why is Social Listening Important?
Today everything important happens on social media. Whether it’s a breaking news item or the next biggest boxing match, it has a thread, a post, and probably its own personal Instagram page.
By not keeping up with this exchange of information it’s the online equivalent to holding your hands over your ears and saying “la la la” really loudly. Social listening can help you grow your brand, create a dialogue with your customers, and become more competitive.
It can also help mitigate a crisis. If your company is going through or has gone through a public relations disaster, you know how negatively it can impact your sales. By having an active social listening staff, you’ll be better prepared for these situations and can even eliminate them before they explode.
Social listening is just one aspect of the ever-growing world of social media. Your company’s online presence will only become more critical as time goes on. The only question is, do you want to become a part of the conversation or hear about it second hand?