Brands haven’t always had the tools and strategies to listen to what their target market and customers were saying about them.
Sure, here and there they heard, “Oh, I just love this new pumpkin spice latte” or “Oh, no, I’m not sure cinnamon and basil truly works together in this smoothie.”
If they were lucky, they could act on the feedback and keep what works and improve what doesn’t.
These days, businesses are more fortunate with the tools available that allow them to listen and act. That is if they know how to listen and if they realize how important this is for business growth.
One such tool is social listening, and yes, you are right. It involves “listening” to your fans and customers on your social media channels.
What Is Social Listening?
As a two-step process, social listening occurs when brands track their social media channels for conversations and mentions that are related to their business or brand. This is the first step.
The second involves action. From the mentions and conversations you monitor, you analyze the data and see where you can take action.
The action doesn’t always need to be something big. It can be as simple as saying “thank you” to a happy customer. Or it can be bigger like fine-tuning your brand to better target your ideal audience.
Social Listening vs Social Media Monitoring
Social listening may seem similar to social media monitoring, but these concepts are different.
When you monitor your social media platforms, you look at various metrics like brand mentions, industry trends, competitor mentions, relevant hashtags, and more. Then you analyze what the data tells you.
This is great when you need to monitor your return on investment or do A/B testing campaigns to see what yields the best results.
On the other hand, social listening doesn’t just look at the number of mentions and engagement rate. It considers the feeling and mood of the mentions.
This helps you understand how your audience feels about your brand and your competitors. The most crucial thing with social listening is that it looks forward and backward to guide your actions and strategy.
Why Social Listening Is Important for Growing Your Brand
We’ve touched a bit on why social listening is vital to help you grow your brand, let’s dive into more detail:
Improving Crisis Management
Not managing a crisis properly or doing it too late can really tank your brand. By effectively implementing social listening, you can track brand sentiment in real-time and act to rise above.
Track what’s wrong and make changes by apologizing or pulling a message.
Perhaps most important here is reflecting on what lessons can be learned to avoid similar missteps in the future.
Boosting Customer Engagement
Social listening gives you opportunities to engage with your audience. This can be in direct ways, such as responding to an issue or compliment. It can also be more indirect where you notice a trend and address it accordingly.
According to research by Sprout Social, nearly 50% of people prefer brands to respond to their customer service questions in a timely manner. From the same study, almost 30% of people want brands to engage with them on social media platforms. This is specifically true for those in the 24 – 39 age group (at 37%) compared to 18 – 23-year-olds (at 31%).
As such, social listening enables you to respond more efficiently to feedback or mentions so that you can improve your audience’s experience with your brand.
Keeping An Eye On Your Competitors
Sure, you definitely want to know what your audience is saying about you. However, you also want to keep track of what they are saying about your competitors.
It indicates what your competitors are doing well and what they aren’t. It also gives you insight into where you fit in the marketplace.
Social listening lets you know what your competitors are up to in real-time. This enables you to plan and adjust your own strategies accordingly.
Finding New Leads
While customers love it when their pain points are solved, they hate right-in-your-face sales and marketing. Social listening helps you toe this line a bit better.
Instead of being in their face with sales, you can nurture relationships with your would-be customers.
First, reach out. Second, make a connection. Third, share helpful information so you establish yourself as an authority and establish trust.
This helps convince leads to become paying customers when it is time for them to make a buying decision.
Understanding Pain Points
By listening to your social media channels, you get data on how your brand is working for your audience and also how it isn’t.
You can use what you learn to tweak a product or service to better address pain points. It can even lead to a new product/service that better serves your target audience.
Tracking the social conversations about your brand and industry will reveal who the influencers are. Connect with these people as they have an influence on how your audience feels about your brand.
Natural brand advocates are those people who already “heart” your brand. Reach out and connect with these influencers and look at ways you can collaborate with them that results in success for you both.
Tracking Brand Growth
Social listening can help you see whether your brand is growing, stagnating, or declining. You can analyze incidents, both positive and negative, and see if there has been an increase in followers or sales, as well as mentions.
From your analysis, you can determine what are the next steps to improve your brand image (if needed) and how to improve the growth of your brand.
Social listening is a tool that cannot be ignored in this digital age. It enables you to track conversations and mentions about your brand to engage better with your followers so that you can better understand what they want and need.
As such, it helps you to take strategic action to improve your brand and build better relationships with your target audience.