Social listening is one of the most powerful ways to observe the market firsthand. It can help savvy marketers develop a marketing strategy based on people’s real online actions and behaviors. While it might seem like a daunting or time-consuming task, the process has become (and continues to become) easier all the time.
One of the biggest struggles marketers face is developing a clear understanding of the customer. An ideal avatar (aka buyer persona) can tell quite a bit about the type of customer the brand is likely to attract. Finding actual people and knowing how to market to them is, however, an entirely other proposition.
Social listening provides the ability to confirm what is already known about the buyer persona with the added benefit of verifiable data that proves the marketer’s perceptions of his customer. In many cases, social listening reveals things about the ideal customer that were never considered when developing his or her avatar. The data gathered can mean the difference between keeping up with the competition and falling too far behind to recover.
In simplest terms, social listening involves monitoring digital online conversations with the intention of understanding what customers and leads have to say online about a specific industry or brand. Marketers use social listening primarily to identify pain points and respond to questions, comments and complaints. It is also used to discover organic feedback that helps shape the face of a specific brand. That feedback is then used to create product and service offerings that have a greater appeal to the target audience.
How, then, does an informed marketer use the information gained from social listening to advance his or her brand? Let’s look at six ways marketers are using what they learn through social listening to elevate and improve their brand images. How many of these have you tried? Which ones could use a bit more attention?
Monitoring the use of your brand’s name is the foundational element to effective social listening. Unlike social media (that only informs page owners when they are @mentioned or tagged), social listening shows where and how people are using the name of the brand in organic conversation.
It might sound a little involved, but it really is as simple as creating a search for the specific brand name using one of the tools linked above. This part of the process helps identify customer service problems, threats to the brand’s reputation, and unique opportunities to personally weigh in on questions, comments, or concerns. Once a search has been created, alerts can be set up to capture and report on any and all new mentions of the brand name. It is then up to the marketer to determine and implement the best responses (should any prove necessary in context).
Successful social listening starts with creating focused, brand-specific content that stands out amongst competitors and encouraging conversation about it. Content marketing is the most successful marketing strategy in a majority of cases and across virtually all industries.
Savvy marketers also enlist the aid of reliable writing services to create, proofread, and even publish their content. The more authoritative the content, the better the feedback about the content and how it relates directly to the brand will be.
Another effective way to use social listening is to identify social selling opportunities. Some of the more common ones include:
Some social listening tools do these things automatically, but manual searches will always be necessary to reveal more pointed information. Research currently relevant keywords from within the brand’s niche. What specific keywords are people searching right now to search for similar products or services? Any common keyword tool or planner should reveal the type of information needed.
It is also advisable to monitor competitors’ brand names and what is being said about them. This is an effective way to do pointed market research and identify issues and problems to avoid. Never making the same mistakes competitors do can expedite the process of reaching the right leads and avoid some of the things that generate negative conversations.
While this concept drastically predates social listening, it is enhanced by the process. Much more data can be gathered and analyzed in a shorter period of time using common online search tools. All of the above advice can be applied to this part of the process. In fact, it is every bit as important to mine as much data as possible about the competition as it is for your own brand.
What influencers and thought leaders have to say about an industry or niche matters. What they say about specific brands matters even more. Once key influencers have been identified, familiarizing them with your brand can have a huge impact on the reach and growth of the brand. Use outreach campaigns and personal engagement on the influencer’s social channels to promote positive branding and conversations about the brand itself.
As mentioned, having a clear image and understanding of the ideal buyer is crucial for success in any marketing initiative. Social listening teaches everything the marketer needs to know about his or her audience, including:
Once these things have been identified, monitor conversations in key groups on all relevant platforms. Interact directly with group members and participate in conversations. This is a great way to increase brand awareness and visibility. Do not, however, hijack conversations or attempt to sell anything. The goal here is to listen and learn so be sure to do both through this process.
The information and advice in this article represent just a small peek at the potential of social listening. Apply all of the above to both your own brand and any relevant competitors. Be sure that this is an ongoing effort and not just a one-time thing. The market and it’s needs change constantly. There is no better way to keep up with those changes than through social listening.
About the Author:
Jilian Woods is a freelance journalist and a contributing writer having more than two years of writing experience. As a writer, she sees her purpose in producing and sharing relevant content with people who are willing to expand their knowledge base and learn something new for themselves. Apart from her day job, you may find Jilian engaged in volunteering or doing yoga.
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