What is Social Listening?

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Social Listening means understanding conversations happening online about a company or brand, as well as its products and services.

Social listening tools are used to gather and analyze customer data from a variety of social media and online review platforms for a specific business or brand with the aim of using that data to improve marketing, operational and business metrics.

Social listening is a response to the online noise as manufactured content is pumped into the social-sphere. What has been discovered by marketers and researchers is that the noise online needs context to have meaning. And to create that context, businesses need the right tools.

Engaging in what your followers are saying about you means listening to them speak in real-time, pairing that data with information about the customers themselves and applying sentiment to it to make strategic business decisions. Social listening tools give your business this ability. Businesses can track conversations around specific terms, phrases, words, and even emojis relevant to the business, and apply context to the conversations to understand how people are speaking about the industry and the brand on social media.

This benefits businesses by involving them in actively listening to their customers. Consumers don’t respond well, on the whole, to be shouted at. They respond well to brands that listen; brands that answer questions and create a community of engagement with their brand.

When you use social listening tools, you can benchmark, use the right influencers and improve the customer experience. This gives you an opportunity to understand your competitors, reach a larger market and understand where your business can improve, such as customer retention, customer service, reputation and other areas. It also highlights your strengths. Perhaps your business has the fastest delivery times, the best prices, a superior product or other assets that you might not be making the most of as a marketing tool because you don’t realise how this quality adds value to your USP.

On the flip side, you will also become aware of negative conversations about your brand. This can give you insight into research and development, brand awareness, customer retention and other areas of development that need to be improved for your business to thrive. You can also take control of the conversation in a positive way by addressing issues and showing how your business is proactive about addressing customer concerns. It is not, however, advisable to try and shut down or hide these conversations. All businesses have negative reviews and if yours doesn’t, it indicates to those researching your brand that you are not willing to engage with negative feedback, or find ways to better your product or service to address customer concerns.

Customer feedback is generally one of the biggest ‘trust’ indicators for customers. People researching a service or product tend to seek out reviews and read comments. People trust other customers more than advertising. If your business is actively responding to feedback online, you are proving that you recognise the value of your customers, which improves the levels of trust for your business.

Why Listen?

Social listening aims to better the customer experience. Collected data can be used to drive strategic business changes, realign messaging, improve product descriptions, adjust product price points, improve services and generally enhance the image of your brand.

Listening on social media can also uncover why customers think or feel a certain way about your brand. For example, maybe you’ve launched a discount promotion, but the promotion code is not automatically updating on the cart at checkout. Customers are likely to turn to social media to complain about the problem. However, if you have the right real-time social listening tools, you can quickly mitigate the problem by addressing comments directly.

There are an estimated 2 billion active social media users worldwide. That means a huge amount of data and information circulating online every minute. You need a strong social presence to capture your audience’s attention.

What you’ll learn if you listen:

  • Where was your brand mentioned?
  • Who is talking about your brand?
  • What are the trends you should note?
  • How are they talking about your brand?
  • How does your brand compare to the competition?

When you use social media listening tools you are learning about ‘why’ people are talking about your brand, giving you the opportunity to be proactive, rather than reactive as many brands are on social media.

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