The Importance of Social Listening
Every marketing initiative requires a solid strategy.
Businesses need to know where they currently stand, how the initiative needs to be established, what resources are required to establish it, how to monitor and optimize the process.
If you aspire to build a successful marketing strategy, having great communication skills isn’t enough. You need to master the art of social listening.
Now, social listening is not merely monitoring your mentions and responding to customer queries – you need to go beyond these notifications and discover people who are talking about you without tagging your official account.
Take Twitter for instance. It is estimated that a whopping 30% of the tweets mentioning your company don’t include your Twitter handle.
Essentially, you lose out on a huge number of people who discuss about your business.
Why Is It Important?
Social listening or social media monitoring is not a notion that is new to marketers. The concept of monitoring what is being said about a company/brand/product across social networks has been around for a while but the burgeoning need for it is becoming apparent now more than ever.
Let’s look at what social listening offers –
- Facilitation of improved interaction and engagement
- Opportunities to resolve problems promptly
- Adequate information to formulate and measure effectiveness of social media strategy
- Ability to measure the performance of social media campaigns
- Ability to manage brand reputation
- Feedback that can be utilized for product development
- Benchmarking against competitors
- Discovery of content ideas
- Identification of relevant communities online and offline
- Identification of advocates to support branding efforts
Merely signing up for a social listening tool won’t help.
The act of monitoring social mentions needs to lead to some sort of social intelligence that can be acted upon. Once the opportunities for conversations have been identified, organizations must deploy trained experts who would know how to react to particular situations in ways that benefits the organization rather than hurting it.
It would also help if these experts are provided a 360 degree view of what is happening with a particular prospect/customer.
For instance, if you realize that person A has just tweeted about your product – and if you knew where A is in the sales funnel, it would help you formulate a much more relevant and accurate response to encourage him to take the action you want him to.
Ideally listening, publishing, monitoring and analytics should be integrated together to be able to gain a comprehensive view of what is transpiring in the social medium.
But how do you formulate a social listening strategy that aligns with your marketing goals?
Here are some pointers –
- Identify your target audience to get a better idea of what is being said.
- Identify your influencers.
- Choose your platform wisely keeping in mind what you require (the most!) no matter what fancy features are offered.
- Appoint an experienced social listening expert.
- Set up an initial set of keywords. Ideally the topics that are important to your business, your industry as well as your competitors.
- Optimize the listening to exclude irrelevant results.
- Filter and sort through collected data.
- Use the refined set of data to spur on action.
- Tweak the keywords periodically to reflect what you’re seeking.
- Track offline campaigns.
- Integrate listening with CRM for better integration of your efforts.
- Track competitor activity.
- Monitor the effectiveness of the social listening exercise at regular intervals.
- Anticipate crises as far as possible and formulate response strategies for different situations.
Having a social listening practice in place is good for every brand.
But organizations must gauge whether they have the required resources to pull off the activity on a regular basis.
Additionally, it is also important that brands maintain the required etiquette and privacy standards while engaging in social listening so as to not infringe over customers’ privacy and lose their trust.
Image by Yuliya Libkina: