Social Listening: What It Is & Why Is It Important In Marketing?

Social Listening: What It Is & Why Is It Important In Marketing?

In recent years, we have seen great changes in how people interact and communicate with each other. Most

In recent years, we have seen great changes in how people interact and communicate with each other. Most of it is because of social media, which has transformed the Internet more private, participatory, and personalized. 

All these interactions on social media allow businesses to sell their products and services through various mediums including digital spaces like social media posts, e-mails, blogs, vlogs, and videos. 

Social media’s rule of thumb for businesses is to listen to what customers want. You can never help or influence your audiences if you do not listen closely to what they are saying. Social listening is as important for approaching your audience as much as it is in our personal lives. Most of the time, brands are only guessing, not listening, and hence taking tactical steps instead of strategic moves. This is where most brands lag behind.

In this blog post, we uncover social listening by explaining what it is, how it works, and why it is now essential for brands and their marketing teams to design effective strategies.

Social Listening Defined

Social listening can be defined as the process of monitoring social channels for gathering information. This can include all kinds of information such as customer’s feedback, mentions about your brand, and discussions regarding specific topics. The ultimate goal of social listening is to extract actionable insights from this information. 

Having said this, social listening is not just about mentions of your brand. Instead, it is about knowing what, why, where, and how discussions are taking place. It involves monitoring specific keywords, topics, industries, and brands to learn about how you can improve your social strategy. 

Knowing what people think will help you develop campaigns, improvise content strategy, stand out against competitors, construct effective influencer programs, and form impactful partnerships. 

Marketers use social listening primarily for community management, including detecting customer pain points and directly responding to their issues, questions, and complaints. It also assists in surfacing feedback that may be useful in making their brand stand out amongst other businesses. 

Businesses that perform social listening can develop the content that their audience wants, generate ideas according to the latest trends, provide better customer service by communicating with their followers directly, and alter their customer strategy based on the current needs. 

How is Social Listening Different from Social Monitoring?

Most people have a misconception that social listening is the same as social monitoring – it’s not. While the terms are often used together, they have different jobs to do, just like your company’s CFO and CEO. 

Monitoring tells you what, while listening tells you why, and both are essential for a business. The distinction between social listening and social monitoring is not black and white. Instead, it is a spectrum across proactive responses and reactive responses. Social monitoring is about gathering data from social media. Social listening is about transforming this data into insights.

Here is a comprehensive guide on social media monitoring. For learning more about social listening, read on.

How does Social Listening Work?

As we mentioned earlier, social listening involves gathering all that is being said about your brand and industry on social media. It involves information collection, cleaning, and analysis. But, given the huge volume of social conversations that take place daily, it is impossible to do this manually. Social listening tools such as Mentionlytics help by automating the process.

The internal mechanics of the tools used in social listening are similar to those of crawlers of search engines. Crawlers work in real-time to obtain accessible content from webpages continuously or at specified intervals according to the objectives. Similarly, social listening tools harness information from social media in real-time to provide you with meaningful information about your brand.

Likewise, social listening tools go through webpages, looking for specific phrases or keywords. These ‘keywords’ can be a brand’s name, a product, or an entire topic. An insightful report will be provided to you once all the data has been collected and summarized. You can use the insights extracted from social listening as input for your strategy development process. 

The tools have differences in features, functionality, and coverage. Therefore, businesses need to customize these tools according to their information needs. While most of the social listening tools are free, others provide premium subscriptions for businesses. 

Why is Social Listening Important for Marketing?

A large number of marketers are already making use of social listening for their business. It is used for a variety of purposes which include a better understanding of target markets, increased website traffic, and improved online reputation management.

Most brands make use of social listening for customer intelligence. It enables businesses to develop a sound understanding of their target audiences including their likes and dislikes. However, social listening is not limited to just this. Businesses can use social listening in a variety of ways. Some of them are: 

  • Influencer Recognition. Cultivate brand advocates by identifying industry leaders and influencers based on their social media following.  
  • Competitor Comparison. Examine consumer attitudes, discover the gaps in the industry, and track what your competitors are doing to keep up.
  • Content Research. Generate new ideas for content, products, and services by gathering information and insights from customers and the industry using social media.
  • Sentiment Research. Survey customer feelings and opinions regarding certain topics, competitors, products, and services.
  • Tactical Differentiation. Identify how you can differentiate yourself from your competitors by availing opportunities to fill gaps in the industry. 
  • Brand Health. Be aware of any conversations about your brand to understand sentiment drivers and customer behavior. This gives you an idea of the overall perception of your brand among customers and prospects.
  • Customer Experience. Detect issues around your products or services and gain visibility into customer needs and wants. 
  • Target Audience Analysis. Discover the preferences and requirements of audiences, set in different demographics, to prepare your strategy accordingly.
  • Campaign Analysis. Capture real-time audience reactions to marketing campaigns and create concise reports to show success/failure and determine causes.
  • Market Analysis. Develop an understanding of the market, what trends are popular, and how you can stay ahead by innovating. 
  • Prospect Analysis. Learn what prospects are looking for and what they want to know. By providing the right information at the right time, you can generate leads for your brand through social listening.

Where can you Utilize Social Listening?

You are missing out on something incredibly important if your marketing strategy does not make use of social listening. People are talking about your business and your industry online; don’t you want to listen to them? Most of the time, when customers talk about brands online, they are highlighting key metrics that businesses can use to improve themselves. 

A customer talking about you online may be trying to tell you why they are not buying your products/services, what is good or bad about your brand, and how you can improve customer experience. All of this is vital information that you should be keeping a record of.

If you care about the insights of your product or service and more importantly, if you care about your customers, you have to adopt social listening. Here are some effective ways you can make use of social listening for your brand. 

#1 Make your content more engaging

Using social listening, you can find opportunities to engage in conversations regarding your brand. The interaction can be about anything, from a customer service request to someone just saying how much they enjoyed using your product, or what change would they like in your service for an even better experience. 

For example, Denny’s, a casual full-service family restaurant change with 1600+ locations across the glove recently changed the way it interacts with customers on Twitter, after doing a bit of research and learning (through social listening) that they were considered to be “a dinner where grandpa’s come to have pancakes”.

To counter this, Denny’s put aside the ‘corporate tone’ and started interacting with its customers through humorous and shareable tweets. It transformed their social media strategy to fit what suits their target audience, the younger generation. The results? A refreshing positive outlook of Denny’s among youngsters, so much so that whenever they tweet, their customers are all ears.

This is a great example of how brands can increase customer engagement and reach out to their target audiences by simply listening to what they are saying and adjusting their marketing strategy accordingly.

#2 Explore and discover opportunities

Customers can be a great help to your brand. For instance, when a considerable number of customers start complaining about the same issue, it’s a sign that you have got some work to do. Social listening not just helps understand when you need to change but it can also provide ideas on how to change as well.

Suppose you are the marketing lead for a fitness center. Your customers have been sharing their frustration about fitness classes being filled up so quickly. Customers even go on to suggest how you can limit individuals or host larger classes to solve the issues. Each of these options may have pros and cons but social listening helps you identify and bring new ideas to the table that can increase customer satisfaction.

#3 Develop new sales leads

Questions asked online by people about your industry can be gathered and analyzed through social listening. Leaping into someone’s online conversation is not considered a good idea but it might help you nourish relationships for social selling. 

With social listening, you can identify what your target audiences like and dislike. Once you develop an understanding of what these prospects want, you can reach out to them and establish a connection. Additionally, social listening will also help you provide timely and meaningful information to these prospects which will help convert them into customers.

#4 Increase acquisition of customers

The social media presents opportunities that can help you increase customer acquisition. Your followers are not just loyal customers, but prospects that enjoy your content on social media as well. When developing a marketing strategy, your target audience should cater to all such audiences.

It is important to provide interesting and valuable content to your followers on social media. This is because it helps you in attracting them towards your brand, rather than simply bombarding them with ads. Approaching random strangers and hoping their interest lies in your products or services seems difficult. However, it is easier to develop interest by posting engaging content that would result in better lead generation for your brand. 

Social listening helps you to discover the type of content your followers enjoy by analyzing their shares, posts, hashtags, and photos. This will assist you in creating relevant and engaging content that will draw them towards your brand and eventually, improve conversion rates.

#5 Adjust your strategy in real-time

Social engagement is not always good, particularly if it comes with negative sentiment. Often, a simple real-time adjustment in your strategy can turn your customer’s sentiments around. But, for this, you need to know what has gone wrong (or right). 

You can detect changes in sentiment in real-time using social listening and get an idea of what triggered this change. Look for the reasons behind the positive or negative engagement of your customers. Your customers share a lot of useful information about their likes or dislikes that can be used as guidance for your strategy across social channels. 

Netflix demonstrates an amazing example of this with its recent invention of the Netflix Socks. When Netflix learned through social listening that most of its users loved binge-watching series on its platform, it was all great news. But it soon discovered that users would often fall asleep while binge-watching. To provide a solution, Netflix came up with the idea of making its own socks that would detect the user dosing off and send a signal to the user’s TV to pause Netflix. The product was very well accepted and it went viral all across its user base. This is a perfect example of how you can utilize positive feedback about your brand to be creative, improve customer satisfaction, and ultimately, increase sales. 

Conversely, social listening can also help address public relations (PR) disasters before they get out of control. To prevent any similar mistake in the future, review the social response for lessons when the customer sentiments go down. For instance, customers might be upset about a particular tweet that you made or shared. By listening to customer responses, you can immediately apologize for this, remove the tweet, and avoid making similar mistakes in the future since it displeases your target audience.

Social Listening with Mentionlytics

The most challenging aspect of social listening is to keep a track of the hundreds and thousands of things being said about your brand daily. Additionally, if you are new to social listening then terms such as keywords, sentiment scores, influencers, and machine learning might seem a bit overwhelming. Luckily for you, Mentionlytics has you covered.

Mentionlytics Social Listening

Mentionlytics is an award-winning social listening platform that provides you with state-of-the-art intelligent features for supporting your marketing team. Whether you are looking to measure engagement for your brand, analyze trends in the industry, perform a market and prospect analysis, or come up with your next big marketing strategy, Mentionlytics can help you out with its excellent range of features.

Social listening empowers you, not just because of the information you collect, but how you perceive that information. Social listening tools such as ours automatically gather information about your brand and transform them into actionable insights and metrics that you can use to shape your next success story. 

To Sum Up

Social media is a rich source of information in this modern age – it is the home to the digital generation. If you do not pay attention to what is being done, said, or heard on social media then you will greatly fall behind your competition. Customers, competitors, prospects, and investors express their opinions, needs, and wants on social media. To provide products, services, and content that matters to them and engages them with your product, you need to take up social listening, The benefits are immense and the time is now because, in this fast-moving age, a day late is a year behind. So, what are you waiting for, get in touch to start your free brand monitoring right away!

About George Mastorakis

George is a co-founder of Mentionlytics supervising Financial Planning and Analysis and our Cloud Architecture. He is an Associate Professor on Emerging Technologies and Marketing Innovation. His interests include Cloud Computing, Web Applications and Internet of Things.