Why Brands Need Social Media Listening

September 2020
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As the rock band Neon Trees famously reminded us with its catchy single years ago, “everybody talks.” They talk about relationships. They talk about the weather. And yes, they talk about your business. 

Whether you realize it or not, people have probably been talking about your company on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or other social media channels. As part of your content-marketing strategy, social listening — monitoring mentions of your brand on social media and then taking appropriate actions in response — helps you join and influence the conversation. 

As we’ve seen throughout these unprecedented times (a global pandemic, racial-injustice protests, “murder hornets” and more), social media plans can fly out the window during a crisis. But through readily available tools such as Hootsuite, Mention, Sprout Social and HubSpot, social listening helps you stay abreast of what people are saying about your brand online, so you can quickly adapt your social media strategy

Social listening is a two-part process. It starts with scanning social media channels for conversations about your brand, competitors or keywords related to your business. The next step is to study the results and determine what actions you need to take. Indeed, taking action is what separates social listening from social media monitoring. The latter solely collects data such as engagement and reach from your social media channels. 

Engaging with your audience 

People are already talking about your brand and your industry online, but you won’t be able to engage with your target audience and identify their needs without listening. Engaging with your audience is an important aspect of your social media presence. Whether they’re asking questions or praising your product or service, your audience will appreciate your responses. People like to know their voice is being heard.

Social listening also helps brands assess their performance. If you’re seeing positive conversations about your business, keep up the good work and join the conversation when possible.

On the other hand, if you’re seeing complaints or concerns about your business, listening and understanding your stakeholders’ points of view will reveal any changes to your business strategy that you need to make. Listening and taking action is the basis of PR and has become even more important during these times of crisis, when so much is at stake.

Using social listening

Consistent social listening helps you understand your audience’s likes and dislikes and how you can reach them. It also reveals what stakeholders are saying about your competitors, giving you valuable insights about your own brand’s position in the marketplace.

If you see a positive conversation online about one of your competitors, it may give you an opportunity to implement something similar for your own brand. And if you see negative interactions between customers and competitors, you’ll have a better chance of preventing similar problems for your own business. 

Analyzing social media chatter about your industry also lets you identify influencers or advocates who potentially could partner with your brand. Pay attention to who’s talking about your industry on social media, especially people with large followings. These experts can benefit your marketing efforts. 

Now is the time to improve your social listening efforts. Compile the data, determine what’s working with your brand and your social media plan and what’s not — and most important, commit to making improvements.

Return to Current Issue The Tech & Social Issue | September 2020
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