8 Powerful Ways Brands Can Use Social Listening Tools
Social listening tools can boost the way companies do business and help brands reach more of their target market. Whether you need to understand consumers better or outsmart your competitors, social listening tools give you the information you need to build a powerful brand and company.
There’s a treasure trove of consumer opinions and customer feedback out there just waiting to be tapped into. That treasure trove is social media.
One of the most efficient ways to extract these insights is via social listening.
Social listening finds insights within social media conversations. It’s the process of analysing social media data to uncover patterns and trends.
Don’t confuse social listening tools with social media monitoring tools. While monitoring tools gather social media posts about a brand, campaign or topic, listening tools also draw insights from posts to give businesses what they need to make informed decisions.
We explain social listening in more depth in our post, Definition: What Is Social Listening?
Ready to find out what social listening tools can do? Here are eight ways they can improve every brand, company and organisation:
For your business:
1. Create a better business strategy
A social listening tool can help you tap into the conversations people in your industry are having.
It does so by first gathering data from public social media conversations from experts and professionals in your field. It then identifies the topics that are top of mind for these people.
Their posts might share the latest news about developments that will affect your sector, for instance. This information can help you improve your business strategy so you are prepared for these changes.
In this way, social listening is like a finger on the pulse of your industry.
2. Discover changing consumer demands
Consumers speak their minds on social media. If you listen to the right voices, you’ll be able to pick up on the needs of your target market.
Use your social listening tool to find criticism or praise that consumers have about your solutions, as well as similar solutions by other companies. With this information, you’ll get to know what they do – and don’t – want.
A good social listening tool should be able to sort positive and negative social media posts for you according to sentiment. Posts that have positive sentiment usually compliment a business or speak favourably about a topic. Posts with negative sentiment speak unfavourably about a company or topic.
A good social listening tool should be able to sort positive and negative social media posts for you according to sentiment.A feature like this makes it quick and easy to separate complaints from compliments, giving you more time to identify issues and opportunities.
Advanced social listening tools are now starting to rely on artificial intelligence and especially machine learning, to automatically determine sentiment. They also allow you to decide what you view as positive and negative, and rate the social posts accordingly.
3. Retain your customers
Social media is where consumers complain – about politics, the weather, the news and, sometimes, your business. Don’t be the last to know when some of your customers are, for instance, unhappy with your solution or find your customer care service unhelpful.
A good social listening tool will uncover this information for you and this data is invaluable. Where else can you find direct customer input into your solutions?
What you do with this information can make the difference between a successful and a mediocre business. Use these insights to improve your solutions or make changes to the way you do things.
4. Develop targeted products
Social listening tools can also do more than help you improve your current offering. They can also help you create new products and services.
Use a listening tool to track conversations people are having about products within your category or the issues that your target market face. This information is the inspiration you need to develop new solutions.
If your company is in the financial services industry, for instance, you can listen to conversations surrounding financial well-being and money problems. Can you think of a way you can solve these pain points? Is there a gap in the market for creating a solution that answers these specific demands?
In the same way that some companies use focus groups during product development, you can use social listening to tap into the massive pool of social media users that are often very happy to express their deepest needs and most honest opinions.
5. Outsmart industry competitors
Using social listening tools to track competitors has many benefits:
- You can learn from the content that your competitor posts on social media
If, on the other hand, you notice that a competitor is struggling to engage audiences on social media, take it as a sign that there’s a gap for you to reach their audience with better, stronger content.
- You can identify customers and markets that are unhappy with a competitor’s service
Create marketing messages with a strong focus on how your services will offer these customers what they’re not getting elsewhere.
- You’ll get a heads-up when your competitor is introducing a new solution or making major moves
This can give you an indication of the solutions your competitor is launching or significant changes they are making. Use this insight to prepare for these developments, whether they present threats or the potential to gain the competitive advantage.
For your brand image:
6. Manage your brand image
It’s hard to determine the perceptions people have of your brand – unless they volunteer their opinion. This is exactly what happens on social media.
Users either blatantly express their feelings about brands and their solutions, or they give subtle clues in the language they use to indicate their impressions of your brand. Their collective impression influences the health of your brand image.
If your brand’s health on social media is not where it should be, it’s time to take action. Use your social listening tool to see what negative topics people talk about most in relation to your brand.
If your brand’s health on social media is not where it should be, it’s time to take action.The results will show you whether you need to make improvements to the way the company does business, or whether you need to change perceptions through public relations and marketing campaigns.
The key here is to know the status of your brand health – and where to start working to improve it. Social listening gives you that knowledge.
7. Nip a PR crisis in the bud
Your brand’s ability to stop a PR crisis from spreading often depends on how fast it can react.
PR professionals recommend that brands have a crisis communications plan – especially for social media issues – and open channels of communication between the marketing and executive team. That way, decisions are made faster.
Sadly, brands don’t always know about bad publicity on social media until it’s too late. Checking your social media notifications helps you see negative responses to your marketing messages. However, you won’t see the social media conversations that happen away from your account, i.e., those that don’t use your handle.
Social media monitoring and listening tools gather posts that mention your brand's name – even those that don’t include your handle. Cutting-edge social listening tools will also send you alerts when a specific topic is gaining more and more attention within your social media coverage.
You’ll get ample warning when there is a surge in posts that complain about a particular issue regarding your brand.
This gives you the opportunity to create a response and react to negative posts as they start to surge. You’ll get a chance to change the way people feel about the issue and keep your brand image healthy.
For your marketing team:
8. Build a killer marketing strategy
Social listening can improve every aspect of your marketing strategy, from social media and advertising plans to the content and influencers you choose.
Social mediaA social listening tool can show you all the posts related to your social media marketing campaign. You’ll be able to learn a number of things, including:
- how engagement with your campaign has grown
- the social media users that are mentioning your campaign message most frequently, and
- the regions in which your campaign received the most attention.
Use your listening tool to see which social media platforms you’re getting the most engagement on. This will show you where to spend more of your resources.
Dig even deeper into your social media data to see which topics that people talk about are most popular. Use this information as inspiration for future social media posts.
It could inspire hashtags too. If you’re wondering which hashtags to use with posts, look no further than the hashtags that people use most often when they talk about your brand – provided, of course, that they are positive and uplifting.
Content strategyYour creative team probably has to come up with blogs and social media topics every day. It’s easy to run out of ideas or end up writing about irrelevant topics if you don’t know what readers want.
Tap into conversations through a social listening tool to find out what your target market loves – and what questions people often have about products like yours.
This gives you the information you need to create content that will resonate with your audience – whether it’s content that entertains or provides answers to typical consumer questions.
Influencer marketingYour social media listening tool will tell you which people are saying good things about your brand, or even a specific topic, on social media.
These social media users are your potential influencers. Armed with a list of users, you can start examining their profiles, typical topics they post about, and their relationships with other brands.
Keep on checking your social listening tool for potential influencers until you find a profile with the right audience, tone of voice and reach for your purposes. Reach out and start to build a relationship.
Which type of influencer is right for your business? Find out in our post, Micro-influencers are Changing Marketing for the Better.A good social listening tool can provide your brand with the data and insights you need to strengthen your social media, content and influencer marketing strategies. Let the knowledge you gain from social listening guide you on the road towards marketing success.
Let’s recap:We’ve had a close look at the many ways in which brands can use social listening.
We’ve learnt that social listening tools help you:
- Create a better business strategy
- Discover changing consumer demands
- Retain your customers
- Develop targeted products
- Outsmart industry competitors
- Manage your brand image
- Nip a PR crisis in the bud
- Build a killer marketing strategy
It digs into the opinions of potentially thousands of people to give you information that can change or improve the way you do business, develop offerings, market products and sell solutions.
The key is to listen.
Want more ways to improve? Learn how to refresh your marketing plan in our post, Three Ways to Update Your Social Media Strategy in 2018.