The question of social listening is one that we get asked a lot here at South Coast Social and one that is so important to business growth within the digital world.
The definition of social listening is the tracking or monitoring of digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.
The ultimate goal of this process is to better understand your target markets which can range from potential clients to your competitor customers.
The data sourced from these results can determine how a brand is perceived, identify common issues that consumers have and to analyse the behaviour of those consumers.
Why is social listening so important?
Hopefully most businesses and people using social media for business purposes will know that there’s a lot more to social than just broadcasting. Social is a platform for building a marketing strategy to reach your ideal audience and to reach and attract the right people at the right time. This doesn’t happen overnight and is not a simple case of replying to your notifications – it is built on strategy and gaining a true understanding on your audience.
How do you gain that understanding using social media platforms?
Before you start to monitor your conversations, you need to figure out what your goals are and what you hope to achieve with your online marketing.
Every business is different and all goals are different – so there is no set way to achieve social listening but there are some basics to get right.
Once you have your goals in place, you’ll have an idea of the direction that you want your business to head in. What do you want to achieve out of social listening?
- Are you looking to source a specific hashtag or phrase?
- Are you looking to engage with people to provide resolutions to problems?
- Are you looking for ways to find niche influencers?
- Are you looking for leads to develop into sales?
- Are you looking to see how you’re seen within your competitor market?
When you’re ready to implement your social listening plan, it’s a good idea to take a look over quite a few social platforms. Even if you’re not active on them, your competition may well be and a section of your audience may well be too. If your marketing efforts are focused on Facebook, why not try monitoring LinkedIn for example?
Check for your hashtags, check for your handle names – and a good idea is to search for variations for common misspellings.
Of course all these practices can be done manually if you have the time, but there are also some great social listening tools out there. You will find as with anything, there are some free services and some services you will need to pay for.
To list a few:
- Social Sprout
- Twitter Counter
- Twitter Analysis
- Google Trends
- How Sociable
- Ice Rocket
Always remember that you want to give value to your customers and everyone out there could be a potential customer…
Here’s a simple but great quote from Hootsuite:
If you’re not engaged in social media listening, you’re creating your business strategy with blinders on.
Hopefully this will give you an insight into what social listening is and to steer you in the right direction for your business.
Please feel free to comment below on social strategies that have worked for you and any tips that you’d like to offer our readers.