As a brand, you need to be aware of what is being said about you in the online sphere rather than just putting word out there about yourself. After all, communication is a two-way street, incomplete without listening. And when it comes to listening, the gossip hub these days is social media. Which brings us to social listening – one of the best ways to stay ahead in the game in the digital era.

Social listening refers to keeping a strict note of what people are saying about your brand to improve your product and services based on the input. 

It’s like collecting feedback without asking for it, overhearing conversations to make changes that you didn’t know that you need to make.

Social listening helps you with several areas of your business including your social media strategy. 

Without social listening, your social media strategy is like the monkey emoji- you know, that one that puts its hands on its eyes, ears, and mouth. 🙈🙉🙊

But why should you rely on social listening to improve your social media strategy and how do you even go about it? 

Let’s explore this in-depth in this post.

What is social listening?

Several businesses start with an ‘aha!’ moment, but epiphanies alone aren’t something they can stand on. There’s always a process to things and this process is based on research.

Social listening is a part of this research. It is a two-step process that involves tracking what people are saying about your brand and then taking action based on what you learn.

If social listening gives you the data, but your action steps are missing, then it isn’t even social listening – it’s just social media monitoring. This is important because lots of folks tend to confuse the two.

But what exactly should you listen to when you hop on to social? Here’s what:

  • Listen to what people are saying about your brand behind its back. For this, track your branded hashtags, relevant hashtags, your brand mentions, the names of important people who are the face of your brand, and other keywords relevant to your brand.
  • Note what is trending in your industry and generally on social media. Is there a new trend you can hop on? Track industry-relevant hashtags and keywords as well.
  • Keep an eye on your competitors. Track their hashtags, look at how well they’re doing on social, and what they’re doing wrong. Keep tabs on their brand mentions and keywords to know what people are saying about them.

In short, don’t just listen to what folks are saying about your business, but also what they are talking about your competitors. Not to forget, keep your eyes peeled on what is happening in your industry.  

Automating the process

Of course, you cannot do all of this manually. 

The good thing is there are tools out there that can help you track key phrases, mentions, hashtags, industry famous influencers, trends, visits, and leads. 

Some of these tools also have additional features. For instance, they enable you to compare social channels, get regular alerts for the keywords you enter, and learn more about your audience as well as allow for employee collaboration for managing customer crises. 

Awario and Mention are two social listening apps you can check out.

How social listening can help your social media strategy

Without social listening, your social media strategy is not only incomplete, it doesn’t even have a starting point.

You see, social media is more than just a place where people talk. These days, it’s like a shopping street with different storefronts. 

Your brand’s presence on social is akin to you being a store on this street. If people aren’t attracted to your storefront or find you unresponsive, they’re less likely to check out what you’re offering and engage with you.

By using social listening for social media marketing, you can refine your social media strategy and attract and retain customers. 

Wondering how exactly? Let’s deep dive into this:

1. Social listening helps you create more engaging posts

Analyzing the reach and engagement of your organic and paid posts helps you determine what type of content you should post more often. This is where social listening comes into the picture.

Your account will only notify you about the basics – the likes, comments, and shares your posts receive and where you get tagged. With social listening, you can dive in deeper.

For instance, if you’ve been sharing videos on Facebook, social listening can help you find out what public accounts have said in their caption alongside sharing them. 

This helps you see what your audience has to say about your video adverts. Apart from captions, the comments section is another place where you can find what people are saying about your content.

You can see what type of content gets more response – does your audience interact better with you when you share images, statuses, polls, stories, videos, or info bites? 

What captions and topics attract your audience the most? Based on your findings, you can create more of what interests your customers.

2. Social listening betters your chances of improving customer relations

If you’re active on social media, you’re probably already replying to the comments and messages that you receive. But is this enough? No.

Social listening helps you spot people who are talking positive stuff about your business elsewhere. 

For instance, if a fan of your brand mentions you in a tweet on Twitter, telling the world how much they love your product, here’s your chance to pop in and appreciate the love you’re getting.

Social listening customer service

Not only will this move breed customer loyalty, but it would also pique the interest of other people who come across the tweet and your reply to it.

3. Social listening helps you with reputation management

Not everyone will love your product even if you sprinkle unicorn dust on it. There will always be people who will have a bad experience with your product or service. Does this mean you ignore unsatisfied buyers? Bad idea.

When the bush fire erupts, it’s better to water it right away otherwise it can take away more customers from you than you can probably estimate. Social listening can help with this too.

With social listening, you can immediately spot unhappy customers who can hurt your brand’s reputation by leaving a not-so-flattering review about it. 

Keeping an eye on such brand mentions and addressing the concerns of your customers fast can help with damage control.

For example, look at how Grammarly has been quick to respond to this user’s concern who had already received three reactions on her status. Yikes!

Social listening reputation management

4. It assists you in finding new leads

Depending on what type of business you are, social listening can also help you find more leads to pitch your service to. 

For instance, if you’re a solopreneur, running a social media marketing agency, you can pitch your services to people looking for social media marketing services.

Groups on Facebook and relevant hashtag feeds on Twitter can be a good starting point in this regard. 

This way, social listening is especially helpful for newbie businesses, service providers, and agencies looking to grow their clientele.

Social listening to find leads

Once you get an idea of where you can best find leads, you can add scavenging for opportunities and pitching proposals at these places in your social media strategy.

5. Social media listening inspires and motivates you

Social listening is having eyes on the entire social field – not just looking at how your team is performing but tracking the opposition’s performance too. 

Being aware of how well your competitors are doing helps you in more ways than one.

Here’s what you can learn from your competitors:

  • The type of content that gets engagement. You shouldn’t copy your competitors, but you can always seek inspiration.
  • How to handle a disastrous situation. And what not to do in such instances.
  • How to get more customers and engage with them.
  • Any new growth tactics that you can adopt as part of your own strategy.

6. Social listening gives you an opportunity to connect with influencers

Social listening lets you know which influencers in your niche are worth working with. It tells you the reach and the impact of the influencers in your industry. 

In fact, social listening can increase the likelihood of a successful collaboration too.

Once you find influencers you’re interested in working with, you can set a target of building a relationship with them. This way, the chances of them agreeing to work with you, or do a favor, increase. 

For instance, an influencer whom you’re on good terms with is more likely to offer you a discount on their pricing or offer a complimentary shoutout.

Conclusion

By being an active social listener, you improve your social media strategy as you learn what content you should create, nurture relationships with customers and influencers, and maintain your reputation online. 

Considering how social media is one of the most important channels for promoting your business, social listening is not something you should ignore. 

For help with social listening and online reputation management, check out these reputation management resources.