We’re losing out on some of the most important data that can help us grow our business if we don’t have a social listening strategy. Nearly two-thirds of marketers concur that social listening has become more valuable in the past year.
By examining what people are saying on social media, social media listening tools enable us to develop a thorough picture of exactly how clients and future customers feel about us.
So, what is it, and how do you develop one? Let’s take a look!
Social listening strategy: What is it and why is it important?
Social listening involves keeping an eye out on social media platforms for mentions of our brand, those of our competitors, and relevant keywords.
We can keep up with every time our business is mentioned on social media by using social listening. By doing this, we will gain important insights into how customers feel about our goods or services, their problems, and what they want to see from us in the future.
Tracking brand mentions is one aspect of social listening, though. It can also be used to monitor rival brands and popular content and conduct sentiment research on issues about our company.
We can utilize this insight to inform anything from marketing and product planning to customer service and support, enabling us to make more informed decisions that will improve the bottom line of our company.
Using the criteria we set, social listening tools gather any publicly accessible data on the Internet, analyze it for the audience, competitive, and other marketing insights, and let us interact with the users. It’s up to us how we decide to apply these skills.
Now that we are aware of the immense value a social listening strategy can offer, let’s get started developing one.
18 Steps to Develop a social listening strategy
Surprisingly, developing a social listening strategy is not difficult; we simply need to be careful to ensure that we don’t forget anything.
Of course, it’s a good idea to frequently revisit the process described below to see if our plan is still effective and to make any necessary adjustments in light of shifting priorities. Speaking of goals, the first stage in every strategy is to define them.
So, let’s get started.
1. Identify Goals
As we already said, social listening is a multifunctional tool that can support numerous business operations simultaneously. To make it beneficial, we must be specific about the type of assistance we seek.
The first stage in developing a plan should be defining the goals. Because the tools we use and the outcomes we measure can change depending on what we want to achieve.
Social listening may be used to achieve the following objectives:
- Keeping an eye on, evaluating, and managing the online reputation
- Social customer service and interaction with potential clients
- Find new leads and use social selling
- Monitoring and analysis of competitors
- Increasing brand recognition through influencers, content, and other marketing strategies, including social media.
Naturally, we don’t have to choose just one, but to accomplish it, we’ll need to create many monitoring subjects, or “alerts.”
We have to remember that a goal can contain several smaller targets, so we may need to set up more than one social listening alert. Additionally, it should go without saying that our goals should be smart.
We must decide on our primary corporate mission, then break it down into more manageable tasks and activities. This step is the most crucial because it determines how we will configure the tool and our subsequent workflow.
2. Identify the target audience
Understanding where to engage them online is crucial once a business has decided whom to target. It’s a popular misconception that while everyone uses social networks, everyone is using the same platform.
For instance, MySpace was preferred over Facebook by Generation Z (13- to 14-year-old) social network users, according to Anderson Analytics, while only 9% utilized Twitter and no one used LinkedIn. If a business uses Twitter to reach Generation Z, they’re not listening in the right place.
We can determine the channels that are most important to our brand and have the highest engagement by conducting a social media platform audit. We need to review our customer and buyer persona profiles. Do they frequently utilize LinkedIn? Twitter? Reddit?
Finding out which platforms our clients use most frequently and where they look for recommendations and assistance would be the basic step here. Speaking the audience’s language is key to successfully marketing a product through content such as advertising and landing pages.
This is mostly because it demonstrates our understanding of their typical line of reasoning. As a result, we can interact with them more effectively.
3. Determine Data Source
We must consider how to obtain social media posts before we can begin to analyze them. Each social media site has a distinct advantage and user base. Therefore, it’s crucial to thoroughly ascertain which ones are most crucial to our brand before focusing on them.
Even though we might want to listen in on conversations across all social networks, doing so will overwhelm us with data that we can’t process. Thus, the majority of the data will be information we don’t require.
Hence, we need to make sure to choose the most crucial data sources to concentrate on first to increase the effectiveness of our listening efforts. The next step is to find a social listening program that can extract information from our desired sources.
Because there are so many conversations happening on Twitter, it’s always a wonderful place to start. In addition, we can decide to concentrate on other well-known networks like Facebook and Instagram based on our objectives and the locations of our target audience.
As a result, we might gain some fans and spark interest in our company. The user may interact with us in the future or browse our website before making a purchase.
4. Identify the influencers
Social listening is developing into a practical method to find influencers as marketers resort to well-known internet personalities to post about their products. According to a study by Meteor Solutions, the kind of people who friend or follow us is more significant than the quantity.
On average, sharing a brand’s content or website links generates 20% of total traffic for a site from just 1% of its audience. This was supported by a Forrester Research study that revealed that a small percentage of people—around 6% of them—generate 80% of online adult impressions and 80% of impact posts.
Social analytics become useful in this situation. By using social analytics, we can identify the people who are sharing content and links as well as their attitudes toward them. Influencers and target audiences probably hang out on Facebook and Twitter, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.
For instance, if we were keeping tabs on a Java programmer, Java blogs and discussion forums would offer a better listening environment. Success depends on finding these suitable individuals, which can be challenging. But in the end, the effort is rewarding. The key to a successful listening strategy and, eventually, a social business agenda, is identifying influencers.
5. Choose the Right Social Listening Tool
The next step is to decide the tool we’ll employ for our social listening. Given the range of factors that must be taken into account and the variety of social listening tools available, this is one of the most key aspects.
In addition to our budget, we should consider the uses of the features and whether they will adequately meet our needs. We should also think about whether the tool can crawl the data sources we want. Tools that make social listening easier to manage are used by businesses that are serious about getting the most out of their social listening strategy.
Choosing the finest social listening tool for our brand out of all these options can be intimidating. Thus, we need to find a tool that will best assist us in attaining our goal by using it as a compass for our decision-making.
Social listening is significantly more effective with these tools since they can track keywords, topic areas, and mentions in a central location that teams can access. It is empowering for employees to have access to discussions that will help them make better company decisions using social listening.
With the tools, we can spot trends, understand which keywords or hashtags are popular at any given time, and better position ourselves for timely and relevant interactions with clients and prospects. One tip is to pick keywords that aren’t too large; this will assist us in getting the most useful and targeted results.
6. Identify the keywords and trends
It is better to choose the subjects that are crucial to our company and list them as prospective keywords. Also, we need to decide if the audience is interested in that language by listening, and if so, we should proceed.
For instance, during a recession, “cost-cutting” might seem like a plausible term to employ; nevertheless, after listening, it becomes evident that “cost reduction” is the preferable term.
Thus, it is reasonable to investigate lost calls, 3G, mobile apps, smartphones, data plans, and other issues if we work in the wireless telecommunications sector. What’s crucial to our business should be reflected in our keywords.
Although it can seem easy, we can more effectively reach a target audience by honing our listening strategy to acquire precisely what we want, continuously looking for new keywords, and keeping track of keyword trends.
7. Create An Engagement Plan
We should have a strategy for responding to and engaging with people on social media once we’ve established our goals, methodologies, and procedure for tracking interactions. Our ability to respond rapidly to real-time updates and jump into conversations as they are happening is one of the many benefits of using social listening.
Customers care when businesses interact with them or address their problems. They want businesses to respond to their queries made on social media within a day, but the response rate of businesses across all industries is less than 25%, according to a study.
That gap is quite big! Brands that are responsive and aggressive on social media foster trust and provide customers with a more sincere and thorough experience. Potential clients who are thinking about cooperating with us can see it.
Stronger brand loyalty and sentiment for our business will result from having the tools and procedures in place to engage in conversations swiftly and effectively.
8. Build Topics and Themes
We can begin creating our listening topics now that everything has been laid out. To do this, we must decide what to look for, such as hashtags, keywords, expressions, brand mentions, etc. The queries we make to pull the data we need can then be based on these subjects and themes.
The foundation of listening is topic questions, and developing effective ones depends on the platforms, hashtags, keywords, and phrases we include or ignore. We need to keep in mind “secondary” social interactions.
Data from YouTube, Reddit, blogs, and forums can also be indexed by listening. We might uncover top talent or find inspiration for our next idea via communities that are specially intended for them.
Consider the following scenario: We want to gauge public opinion on vegan ice cream. We might come up with many search terms to use in this situation, such as:
- Vegetarian ice cream
- Vegan ice cream
- Frozen vegan dessert
- Non-dairy ice cream
- Non-dairy gelato
We can add more parameters to the query to make it much more specific, depending on the listening tool we are using.
9. Collecting the data
Utilizing the social listening tool, we can then start gathering data. Typically, to do this, we’ll need to enter the queries based on the subjects and themes we’ve created.
Alternatively, depending on our objective, we can decide to solely pay attention to the name of our company or the product. This will enable us to gauge listening metrics like brand sentiment and voice share.
Measures of brand awareness that take into consideration influencer interactions about a business include the reach of mentions. We can alter our efforts and give consumers and prospects the maximum value by monitoring our results.
We should focus on the metrics that are important to our goals at this point in the listening process. Consider the case of gauging the health of a brand using sentiment measurements. Or we may check indicators like media exposure, sentiment, and share of voice to discover how people are reacting to the most recent campaign.
10. Find Feedback
Finding client reviews on specialized and well-known social media platforms can be done by tracking the brand and product names.
We can find reviews, complaints, and endorsements by using positive and negative phrases like “does” and “doesn’t.” As customers leave encouraging remarks, request permission to utilize them as website testimonials and make an attempt to repost or retweet supportive messages.
This is a terrific tactic since it serves to both remind the followers of how awesome the product we’re selling is and perhaps attract new leads who happen to hear others gushing about us. On the other hand, social listening can also turn up negative remarks or feedback. But the most important thing is what we do after receiving negative feedback.
The goal is to identify the public embarrassments our organization can address and handle the situation with sophistication and flair that impresses observers. It can be daunting to take note of every single piece of bad criticism, but this is where we can make an impression.
11. Tweak settings based on the data and feedback
Converting the data into insights we can utilize in our strategy is one of the most crucial tasks in the social listening process. Perhaps one of the areas where most firms suffer is this one. It requires comprehending the significance of the data and how a firm can currently benefit from it.
As an illustration, suppose we are keeping an eye on comments concerning a recently launched product, and the tone is primarily looking negative. And deeper, we find that there are numerous complaints regarding a particular feature not functioning properly.
It will help us understand that this function is upgrading. It also means that we’ll also need to consider how to address the problem that individuals are already facing.
By doing so, we can deconstruct the data and gain insightful knowledge that can help us formulate solutions. We may even put the data into context by comparing it to our analytics data to gain a better understanding of what it implies.
12. Track Social Campaign Results
Although it may seem irrelevant to some, many marketers fail to keep track of social media initiatives carried out by competitors, industry leaders, or even their own brands. We can gather information on hashtag campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and other platforms, as many social listening tools have analytics packages.
The following uses for this data go beyond performance monitoring:
- Setting objectives for the next campaigns
- Identifying the target audience’s most engaged demographics and directing upcoming advertisements and content at them
Sharing our content with readers using personalized short URLs rather than generic short links is another quick and easy way to gather useful data.
By doing this, we’ll be able to gather click data directly from the source, allowing us to examine the effectiveness of our material, quickly determine the kinds of content that our audience interacts with most frequently, and establish a solid social media plan for the future.
13. Measure the value of organic reach
For agencies and CMOs who must present measurable data to a board of directors to report the success of their strategies, measuring the value of our organic reach is extremely helpful.
How many people have chosen to buy something after watching a TV advertisement is impossible to quantify. On the other hand, if we run the same advertisement online, we can precisely track conversion rates at each stage of the customer acquisition process.
We can measure the value of online conversations about our brand with the aid of a good social listening tool.
Taking into account elements like
- The number of profiles that reference our brand,
- We can determine how many individuals may have seen mentions of our brand based on the reach of their content and the volume of interactions.
We can efficiently determine the projected worth of these mentions and conversations about our brand using this data. The exposure we gain from our web marketing efforts is reflected in the estimated reach.
14. Monitor Competitor Content
The content strategy, ideas, and strategies can benefit from keeping track of how our competitors’ content performs on social media. Content that succeeds for them can succeed for us because we probably share an audience with rival businesses.
All we need to do now is keep tabs on our competitors side-by-side. This should generate engagement data, such as how many times it has interacted with or been viewed, depending on our tool. Additionally, we could see discussions and opinions about the article.
We can put our newfound knowledge to use by
- Determining which concerns and pain point our audience can relate to
- Modeling articles, research, and infographics after the most well-liked material
- Interacting with users after they’ve complained about our competitors
We can find all references that are pertinent to our company by using social listening. And part of it is keeping an ear out for discussions about our direct and indirect rivals.
15. Follow industry recommendation posts
We can interact with our audience by using social listening. We can locate accounts relevant to our niche and interact with them in the comments by using social listening, competitor, and hashtag research. Then, provide our knowledge or strike up a chat about pertinent subjects.
For instance, we can follow “recommendations” posts in our business and respond with advice and product recommendations when appropriate. However, depending on the organizational structure of the company, putting these concepts into practice may necessitate collaboration with a different department.
Regardless, discovering them starts by tracking broad industry trends. As marketers for an analytics company, we might track “metrics” and “social data,” for instance. Somebody will ultimately express a need or want.
If we can already alleviate their problem, it’s better to reach out to them. If not, we should think about making the needed changes.
16. Protect your brand reputation
It is both the most prevalent and obvious use case for social listening as well as a crucial one. Rapid responses to a negative review or phony comment can frequently avert a brand reputation crisis.
An example of brandjacking is when someone poses as a brand online, frequently with bad intentions. If not caught right away, this could seriously harm the business’s reputation. These online imposters are free to post whatever they want to harm our company and present a poor image to our clients.
If we find a phony profile like this in time, we may instantly fix the problem and prevent social unrest. It also relates to disgruntled customers who voice their complaints about our service or merchandise. We can attempt to address the issue before it becomes out of control if we can identify their public remarks before too many people see them.
17. Establish a social listening routine
At this point, we choose how we’ll apply the tool to our professional endeavors. By developing a social listening practice, we can turn our aspirations for the tool into actionable steps and address problems as they arise. Here are a few inquiries to make at this point:
- How will I participate in a pertinent conversation?
- How frequently should I review these conversations?
- What insights and analytics are crucial to me?
- How frequently should I look at these analytics?
A workflow can be made once we know the answers. To improve our social listening strategy, we need to choose whether we want notifications and how often we want to get them.
Of course, the workflow will vary depending on our team’s size, the amount of time we have available, and other factors. We have to recognize what serves our objectives and stick to them.
18. Apply What You Learn
The business applications are what give social listening to a significant impact. We can listen all day and find insights, but the actual value comes from putting them into practice. Through social listening, new questions, passions, and concerns can be found that can help us position our goods and services more effectively.
The language that real people use to discuss our products can be mirrored by content marketers using social listening strategies to produce more relevant content for their audience. By participating in real-time discussions and identifying better leads who are already talking about us or our rivals, sales teams can boost their social selling.
These discussions can help hiring managers identify the qualities and perks that job candidates value most. This can enhance our talent pipeline and promote our company brand. If used properly, digital listening can help brands in various ways.
Brands can use current trends and conversations to significantly affect their performance and perception by using the correct tools and social listening strategies.
Why is social listening important, and how is it measured?
We can use social listening to start new discussions, get insightful information about our audience, locate champions or influencers, foster brand affinity, or discover chances for real-time customer service and sales.
Here are some ways it helps a brand:
- Presents a single feed for all brand mentions:It can be difficult to keep up with all of our social media, especially if our following is active. The good news is that social listening tools will make it possible for us to stay informed without having to check all of our social media accounts.
- Engage target audience:One of the most important advantages of social listening is undoubtedly developing a full grasp of our target audience. It all boils down to paying attention to the wants, and preferences of our audience. As a result, we can maximize our efforts to guarantee the best outcomes.
- Lead generation: Lead creation is one of the most significant opportunities in social listening that brands sometimes ignore. This strategy is incredibly successful because it’s individualized and caters to the needs of our lead.
- Keeping up with the competitors:Perhaps even more crucial than monitoring our brand is monitoring our competitors. Additionally, monitoring our brand as well as that of our rivals enables us to accurately assess how we compare to one another in terms of visibility and receptivity.
So, how can we measure it? Using social listening metrics. Here are a few.
- Mentions:We can monitor the number of mentions and the reach of mentions to gauge the amount of brand awareness. We will be able to comprehend our brand’s online reach with the help of the combined data from these two social listening measures.
- Engagement:One of the most frequently monitored social listening measures is social media engagement. It includes a range of user activities, such as likes, comments, shares, follows, and more.
- Sentiment Score:The social listening indicator known as a “sentiment score” can show us how satisfied our target market is with our company. Customer satisfaction, or CSAT, is a crucial KPI to confirm that our consumers are happy with our products and customer service.
There is a continuous exchange of information at high volumes, whether it is about our brand, our industry, or our competitors. The growth of our company can be tremendously aided by social listening in several different ways.
We must continue to listen and observe to inform our social media and commercial initiatives. With all this knowledge about social listening at our disposal, all that’s left to do is pick a suitable tool and start using media intelligence to expand our company!