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As an amplifier of societal trends, social media reflects the voice of the consumer — their needs, desires, and pain points. And, with today’s rapidly changing climate, it’s more important than ever for the best and brightest businesses to stay cognizant of that voice.
The most socially relevant brands are on the pulse of today’s trends by engaging in meaningful social listening and social monitoring. To take it a step further, they then proactively and organically participate in the conversations that are the most relevant.
Read on to discover how best to leverage social listening by dialing into what your consumer is really looking for, ultimately improving brand awareness and authority, increasing engagement, customer loyalty, and retention; and using social listening to drive more conversions.
What is Social Listening?
Social listening is a three-fold process made up of monitoring, interpreting, and then putting insights into action.
Begin by monitoring what your audience is saying about your brand, market, industry, products and services, and competitors. Interpret your findings with audience insights and analysis to better identify your customer’s pain points, industry trends, and any market gaps. Then, put those insights into action by personalizing marketing campaigns to reflect the temperature of your target audience.
The TL;DR? Both social listening and social monitoring are core elements of any modern brand’s growth. Employing a successful social listening strategy lends your business the power to understand what your audience really wants and needs, and then allows you to act on the “what” and the “why” behind their sharing on social platforms.
Nowadays, the bulk of conversations are happening on social media. The dedicated brand infrastructures built into Facebook and Instagram make them top marketing contenders for most businesses. YouTube also dominates the field, with Google search pointing users directly to YouTube results for their video search functionality.
In recent years, TikTok has begun to rival YouTube as a video search engine. And Linkedin remains significant for B2B content research, while Pinterest can also provide valuable marketing opportunities.
Conducting social media monitoring helps brands to keep track of dynamically changing trends as their audiences react to them, across all of these platforms. Once you’ve identified the key conversations your target audience is having — opinions, emotions, frustrations, feedback, and more — you can begin to step into the minds of your target consumer.
Brands that leverage insights gleaned from social monitoring across several or more social platforms can better stay abreast of dynamically changing trends. What social platforms does your brand consider most valuable in perceiving audience needs and pain points to better drive desired business outcomes? Are you sticking with tried-and-true social networks such as Facebook and Instagram, or branching out into relatively newer platforms like TikTok?
Gathering Valuable Insights
Popular social media and customer management tools such as Hootsuite, Metricool, Buffer, Mention, Brandwatch, Sprout Social, and Sprinklr provide brand performance tracking and insights by allowing access to customer data across multiple touchpoints. Brands can track consumer trends as well as current audience sentiments, preferences, and pain points through a number of elements, such as:
mentions of brand name, social handle, and keywords
mentions of competitor names, handles, and keywords
and industry-wide hashtags and keywords
In addition to collecting data around audience sentiments, these tools can track spikes in volume and sentiment.
Brands can take action on this knowledge by setting up notifications for mentions, monitoring regularly in order to listen competitively, responding promptly to feedback, analyzing findings, and iterating and testing new strategies, products, and services based on observations.
Social media monitoring tools provide brand performance tracking by allowing access to customer data as it changes in real-time. Marketers can track audience insights such as brand sentiments, desires, needs, and pain points, and take action by proactively responding to customer feedback, plus other critical strategies.
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Personalizing Marketing Campaigns
Once you’ve begun the process of social monitoring and social listening, brands can then enact more innovative marketing strategies and campaigns according to the data collected. For example, in the eyes of today’s consumer, social justice issues, sustainability, and other environmental causes are more important than ever. When brands know which topics and issues are most important to their target markets, they can launch purpose-driven, well-segmented marketing campaigns based on those findings.
Taco Bell is an example of excellent cause-based brand marketing; with knowledge of their customer base’s interests. Most Taco Bell customers fit within the 18-34 age demographic. To appeal to their target market, Taco Bell instituted a foundation in 1992 that continues to award annual scholarships today, and funds youth nonprofit organizations for the purposes of education and career readiness.
When successfully implemented, these strategies should also foment continued positive sentiment around the brand — while furthering causes that truly matter. Brand to demand marketing, anyone?
Once you’ve implemented the use of social listening and monitoring tools, you can begin to tailor your content marketing strategies and campaigns to target markets according to the customer data you’ve collected. Issues of social justice and sustainability are crucial today, and when strategies like these are done right, they can garner positive sentiment around your brand while doing good in the world.
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After enacting an airtight social listening and monitoring strategy, the logical next step is to gauge the effectiveness of your strategy. Staying aware of brand mentions and sentiment is a given, but as you’re establishing a regular social listening routine, it’s important to decide what other metrics matter most to your business.
Social followers. An increase in followers is no small feat in today’s world of shifting algorithms and trends. Tracking your brand’s number of social followers across multiple platforms is a key metric — but let’s remember the number of followers isn’t everything, especially if they’re not engaging.
Engagement rates. Increasing engagement is the name of the game, and by showing up for important social conversations, brands have a far higher likelihood of staying relevant. Maximize your best efforts — and resulting business outcomes — by establishing a firm grasp of what your audience prefers to engage with.
Customer acquisition and retention. Social listening and monitoring can help foment faster social growth, which in turn increases the likelihood of audiences converting into customers. By listening competitively and using that understanding to create valuable content marketing campaigns, you’ll guide your customers more decisively through their buyer journey, improving retention rates as you go.
Part of establishing a regular social listening and monitoring routine is deciding which analytics are most important for your brand to measure. Brand sentiment is a hard metric to quantify, but tracking social followers, engagement rates, customer acquisition and retention, and competitors is highly valuable, too.
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