Since its early development, social media has become an increasingly important and constantly evolving component of online behavior. What used to be platforms for connecting with friends have expanded to include features that integrate everything users need and do online. That overlap includes everything from reporting features and live video sharing to news publications and e-commerce transactions, all streamlined in a way that makes social media platforms the watering hole for modern users. Users now turn to social media platforms to stay informed, post reviews, buy things, and more, and the data that shows just how many users do that is staggering:
- 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
- More than 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform
- 79% of American internet users are on Facebook
- 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases
This is exactly why brands have a vested interest in not just securing their presence on different social media platforms, but in using the prevalence of it to track their brand. To miss out on what’s being said about a brand or industry online is to willfully bypass an opportunity for business growth and improvement. This is where social listening comes in.
Social Listening is when brands monitor what’s being said about them or their industry in conversations online. Whether a brand follows a set of keywords relevant to their industry or their specific brand name, monitoring what’s being mentioned about them can provide useful information that can provide huge insights. For example, if a brand using social listening began observing several mentions about one of their product’s shortcomings, they could take how their audience is responding to it and use it to address problems. Or if an industry’s customers are buzzing over a specific trend or topic, brands would know what to weigh in on and how to engage their audience.
The idea behind social listening is for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of their own business and industry so they can perform better, and it’s not hard to do. Here’s how you can get started.
Tools for Social Listening
First, you’ll need to use a tool that helps you track the brand name or industry keywords you want to monitor. One of the best tools for this is Google Alerts, because it’s free and is convenient if you’re already using Google Analytics. Other options for social listening tools are Mention, Social Mention, Brand Watch, or Who’s Talkin.
For these tools, all you have to do is input the brands, phrases, or keywords you want to monitor. The tools will return the queries and mentions of them online, and from there you can decide how you want to use them.
How to Use Social Listening for Your Brand
You can use the information you gather from social listening however you see fit for you brand, but here are some ideas on how to get started.
- Get Content Inspiration
Anyone with a blog knows that constantly coming up with fresh content ideas can be challenging, and social listening can help with that. By reading the mentions and conversations happening around keywords pertaining to your industry, you can see what questions people are asking or what they’re excited and/or talking about to generate ideas for your website or blog. Or, at the very least, you can see what your audience is talking about so your brand can better participate in conversations and engage in relevant discussion.
- Identify Problems
If you’re monitoring a specific product, topic, service, or otherwise, you can use social listening to potentially identify problems that need addressing. Maybe there’s a glitch in a product that people are talking about or a snag in an online service. By finding the problems through your social listening tools and seeing what people have to say about it, you can use that information to identify and correct problems related to your brand.
- Reputation Management
Similarly to how social listening can be used to identify problems, it can also be used to manage brand reputations. Monitoring what’s being said about your brand can reveal damaging mentions or reviews that could contribute to a negative image. By having a tool and process in place for tracking those kinds of mentions, your brand can stay on top of its reputation and know what’s being said online.
- Crowdsourced Campaign Ideas
A lot of research goes into social media or marketing campaigns, and social listening is a great way to enhance that research. Brands can review mentions to get ideas on what type of campaign/content will be successful with their audience, see what the brand is doing that users like or dislike, and use those brand mentions to crowdsource marketing ideas.
- Find Influencers
Influencer marketing has become one of the most effective ways for brands to communicate with their audience, but sometimes finding the right influencers can be difficult. With social listening, brands can potentially find users that are saying a lot about their products or services online and recruit them to advocate on behalf of the brand.