A few years ago, I ran the social media for a safe drinking campaign at a university and used Hootsuite to schedule my Twitter and Facebook posts. I was also using this popular tool to follow what people were talking about regarding drinking, the school and our campaigns. I interacted with students, shared content that would generate responses, and had one-to-one conversations with followers.

Little did I know, I was using Hootsuite for social listening. Although this marketing buzzword is everywhere, it’s one of the critical components in a communications strategy.

In today’s technology and socially driven industry, it’s almost unheard of not to have a digital strategy. Some organizations or businesses believe they don’t need to be online. And that’s okay. However, those organizations are missing out on valuable opportunities to understand and generate likes and followers into leads, or unhappy customers into loyal ones.

Whether or not an organization or business is online, people are having conversations online about the brand or industry with or without them.

Anyone can tap into these insights even if they don’t have a strong understanding of the online world. Finding these insights is called social listening.

Social listening

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand or industry online. It can be one of the critical factors for obtaining feedback and understanding an audience.

The importance of social listening

If a business is tapping into social listening strategies, they can find new potential customers and influencers who can champion the brand. More leads = more exposure and revenue.

The benefits of social listening include:

1. You can differentiate the brand, product, or service.

Make your brand engaged and authentic by learning more about industry trends and directly listening in on digital conversations and joining in. Uncover what competitors are doing with your target audience and create a unique way to differentiate yourself through content and campaigns.

2. You can make the business socially relevant.

A business can connect with their audience and know what matters to them and use these insights to continue to get others to talk about the brand. Companies can utilize social listening tools to find what makes their audience unhappy and fix any issues to create a positive experience and brand image.

3. You can identify and reward happy customers.

Stay on top of the pulse by keeping up with your industry to identify and attract new customers by filling industry gaps. Acknowledge those who support your product through replies, shares, likes, and even sending free products (if you have the budget) to generate more buzz. Learn how your target audience is finding and hearing about you.

Considerations

So, you find this information and what people are saying. Now what? It’s important to use the data collected, or else there would be no point to the process!

Measure what matters. If you hold a campaign or in-store promotion, find out if people have more positive or negative responses. Did feedback show what you could improve on? Was there even any feedback? How can you improve?

Did someone complain or offer a suggestion? How will you fix it? Quantify if your engagement is increasing or decreasing through shares, likes, and follows. Are people going to your website from social media? What days are they visiting from social media? Why? Was there an event that day? Did someone mention your brand somewhere? Tell the story of your online strategy by measuring your social listening.

Social listening tools

Below is a list of various social listening tools. I can vouch for Hootsuite and Google alerts (free versions) and confirm that they offer a great way to be in the know 24/7 through keyword alerts and feeds. Although this list is not every social listening tool, it’s a good start.

Feel free to have fun and browse these services. Happy listening!

About the Author Sarah Stone

Results-driven marketing and communication professional. I have experience in multi-channel marketing programs such as social media, web design, print promotion, and content and email marketing.

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