MIGRATE -- OG_Social Listening Guide

The ultimate guide to social listening

No matter the platform, social media is known for its community of sharing content, thoughts, ideas, and opinions. And while we love to share, it’s also important to listen. In fact, social listening is an integral part of any marketing strategy and should always be at the forefront of decision making. 

What people are talking about online gives brands an insider view of what consumers really think about their service or product. In order to connect with your target audience, it’s crucial to first understand what they think and want – that’s where social listening comes in handy. 

No more guessing or losing strategies; when your brand is invested in social listening your team can begin optimizing everything from customer service to campaigns. Don’t waste any more time guessing what consumers want or how your brand compares to competitors – let social listening answer all those questions for you!

What is social listening?

What are people saying about your brand online? How is the industry changing? Who’s leading the market? With the help of social listening, these questions can be answered.

In fact, a social listening report is one of the best ways to understand brand sentiment and industry trends.

The process of social listening can be broken into two steps. Step one begins by collecting data from various social channels. This may include social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, but make sure you’re pulling data from the places that your brand is most active. 

Step two consists of analyzing the collected data and making sense of conversations, trends, and sentiment. Understanding the consumer viewpoint and industry as a whole can help your brand make smarter marketing decisions and build more effective campaigns.

The more data your social listening report includes, the more accurately you can measure how your brand stacks up against competitors. The unique perspective that social listening tools provide allows your marketing strategies to work smarter, not harder. 

Why is social listening important?

The benefits of social listening are substantial as they extend further than just improving your marketing strategy. Social listening not only tells you what people are saying but also which types of content are most influential and resonates with your target audience. 

With the help of social listening, you can improve future campaigns, build high-quality content, enhance messaging, and outperform competitors. Social listening reports also provide key insights into industry leaders and influencers, allowing your brand to construct a valuable influencer program and make impactful brand partnerships along the way. 

If you haven’t implemented social listening into your marketing strategy, you’re missing out on tons of valuable insights that your competitors are surely using. Without the crucial information provided by a social listening report, you may be running the risk of misunderstanding customers and ultimately neglecting your brand’s reputation.

What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Although similar, there’s a difference between social listening and social monitoring.

Social media monitoring involves identifying messages related to your brand and responding or handling them as appropriate. Meanwhile, social media listening is a much deeper diagnosis of everything being said and, in the case of sentiment analysis, felt about your brand.

Basically, social monitoring is about the day-to-day tasks of managing a brand on social media, whereas social listening helps map out big-picture plans and improves overall campaign strategy.

But even within social listening, there are different areas that you need to pay attention to.

Deep listening vs. actionable listening

Deep listening is about pulling in as much data as possible. It searches far and wide to research across all kinds of digital channels, including forums, reviews, earned media, and more.

It’s generally an early step in the listening process and will produce a lot of unstructured data that will then later be dissected and disseminated to provide a company a comprehensive view on trends and share of voice.

On the other hand, actionable listening uses the same type of approach but on predetermined sources of data. As opposed to the overall data collection of deep listening, the point here is to learn insights that can be quickly put into practice, a critical step for a successful marketing workflow.

Actionable listening can be further broken down in ways:

  • Community Engagement – React quickly and efficiently to responses, especially critical ones, on social media, review sites, and more

  • Content Intelligence – Suggestions for marketing campaigns, including AI recommendations, sentiment analysis, and actionable listening insights

The best social listening strategies  

In order to maximize the value of social listening information, make sure to identify a goal you hope to achieve given the listening insights. A social listening report can be an overwhelming amount of information, so it’s important to know what’s useful and where to start.

If you’re having trouble making sense out of your social listening report, below are a few of the best social listening strategies to strengthen your online presence and improve your overall marketing approach. 

Brand sentiment 

If there is one thing your marketing team must stay on top of, it’s what people are saying about your brand online. Do they love it? Is anyone complaining? What could your brand be doing better? 

A great way to funnel social listening insights into results is by focusing on improving the health of your online brand. This often means taking a closer look at perception trends, content performance, and brand sentiment. 

A social listening report will help your team keep pace with online conversations and pay attention to customer questions, comments, complaints, and demographics. It’s a simple way to boost customer engagement while building a more positive brand sentiment

Industry trends 

Keeping an eye on social media trends before they become obvious is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the game – and a social listening report does just that!

By analyzing industry hashtags and staying tuned in to important discussions, social listening can advise you on where the market is headed. In fact, analyzing industry trends can point out gaps in the market and present unique opportunities. It can also identify potential industry disruptions, including important political and social issues that may impact your brand. 

Social listening will not only keep you up to date with the market, but it will also point out what’s working for others within the industry. For example, identifying industry leaders and how your brand can create a similar presence online. 

Competitive analysis 

If you’ve already covered all your bases, analyzing brand health and getting a grasp on the industry, then it’s time to start focusing on your competition. Who are they and what are they doing better than you? 

With the help of social listening, you’re able to quickly identify where your brand is booming and which areas could use some improvement. It’s easier than ever to directly compare your audience, customers, satisfaction rates, and strategies to competitors.

Social listening allows your brand to quickly identify where your business stands within the industry and pinpoint where competitors are falling short. Ultimately, with every piece of competitor data, your brand will be able to gain a competitive advantage online and with product development.

Measure campaigns

Many brands spend months putting together the perfect campaign. However, your team shouldn’t spend nearly as much time calculating a campaign’s results. Thanks to social listening tools, you can monitor the success of your campaign in real time.

In fact, social listening breaks down impressions, engagement, sentiment, and mentions that were generated by the campaign in order to evaluate its overall effectiveness. Social listening also gathers information surrounding the campaign to further understand what resonated with your audience.

Success is not always straightforward in marketing but with social listening, it’s simple to identify what needs to be improved and then build upon those efforts. 

Identify influencers

In the age of social media, influencers can be a prominent investment for brands looking to expand their audience and reach. Social listening has become a highly effective method of identifying notable influencers and niche thought leaders. 

It can be quite frustrating sifting through follower counts and like to comment ratios, so let social listening do the heavy lifting for you. Social listening reports will point out exactly which accounts are leading the way and why.

From discovering the best influencers for your industry to confirming their quality and analyzing results, get all the tools you need for end-to-end influencer marketing success

Social listening use cases

Audiences want brands to be easy to deal with no matter what form of communication they’re using. Brands want to keep their audience (and employees) satisfied and happy.

Using social listening with a tool can accomplish both in one fell swoop.

For many of the most common communication channels – like Instagram and Facebook – a social listening tool like the one in Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud gives a brand real-time access to mentions, comments, and reviews. Most importantly, it funnels them into one centralized dashboard where your team can easily, and quickly, respond.

That’s crucial for both good news – nurture that brand love by acknowledging their comments or showcasing them on social media – and bad news, where listening can help detect waves of negative sentiment before they become a tsunami.

Looking for a more big-picture type of view? Social listening can also be used to gain insights into audience interests and demographics, as well as monitor larger patterns of behavior in engagement and sentiment.

It’s clear that social listening is an integral part of the marketing process, but with so much data potentially available, social listening really isn’t possible without the right tool.

The best social listening tools 

If you’re ready to implement social listening into your marketing strategy, it’s important to invest in the right social listening tool. Whether it’s insights on hashtag campaigns or clever industry analytics, each platform has its own unique social listening report.

If you’re looking for a unified marketing platform that specializes in a lot of areas on top of just monitoring, Emplifi is a great option. Others, like Digimind, Keyhole, or Brandwatch, offer in-depth diagnostics that help take in data and use it to elevate your brand to another level.

The takeaway

Social listening is an integral part of any brand’s online success and marketing strategy. Relying on quantitative insights can give your brand the information it needs to step up content, revamp messaging, and gain a slick competitive edge.

Whether your team is tackling changes to the industry or fighting an uphill battle of negative brand sentiment, the analytics provided by social listening reports can be used in many different ways. Whatever goal your brand is striving to achieve, there is a social listening strategy to maximize its efforts.

As the population on social media skyrockets, don’t miss out on key audience insights and transformative information. Social media is constantly changing and requires a high level of agility on your part, but with the help of social listening your brand can stay one step ahead.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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