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Incorporating Social Listening Into Your Strategy (And Why It's Vital)

You're often heard me use the term "social listening" when I talk about crucial elements to a social media marketing strategy. But what really IS social listening and why is it such a big deal? And maybe more importantly, how can you go about incorporating it into your own social media marketing strategy?

With more than 76% of marketing professionals claiming that data is the backbone of success, (which I would agree with) it's not surprising that businesses need a significant amount of data to market their business properly.

And this is where social listening plays such a critical role. Are you ready to jump in and find out all about it? Let's hit it.

The Social Listening Run-Down

If you've been in the marketing world for any amount of time, you'll notice that just blasting out to your followers and your target audience is hardly ever effective. Instead, you've had to sink a good investment of time, money and creativity to learn to do something huge. And that's listening.

You've had to pay attention when something goes wrong and when things seem okay, find and respond to customer complaints and find out what the needs and goals of your target customers happen to be at any given time.

This, my friend, is social listening. And it's one of the most powerful ways to market effectively on social media. It will open the doors to allow you to make better, more logical, more effective and less time-consuming decisions about how to move forward with your social strategy. And this is because with enough data about what your target audience wants and needs, you'll better be able to respond to their needs in a more effective way.

Social listening is a tool that goes beyond monitoring your analytics trackers and CTRs. It's a tool all on it's own and when wielded correctly, can prove to be incredibly powerful.

Without social listening, well....

What you don't know can really (really) hurt your brand, so social listening is of vital importance if you're going to avoid your brand getting run into the ground by comments made from strangers that you're not hearing or seeing.

And that's why as we dig deeper today, we're going to make sure YOU know how to use it.

What Do You Stand to Gain From Social Listening?

Obviously smaller businesses aren't going to have a constant stream of comments, tweets, replies, postings, queries and all that jazz going on under their nose and that's only because the bigger your brand, the more brand reach and recognition, the more interaction customers are going to have with you.

However, just because you're a smaller business doesn't mean you should put the brakes on social listening. Nope! And that's because social listening doesn't just apply to your brand, you have to be applying the practice across your industry, your look-alike audiences, perhaps even your region and location depending on the circumstances.

Of course, sifting carefully through all of this information, even with a team of people would take hours and hours and the scary part is that you would hardly walk away with enough information to make it worth your while.

Enter social listening tools like Sprout Social, or HubSpot. These tools can help you sift through the information quickly to find exactly the data you need, when you need it.

"What are the Benefits of Social Listening, Anyway?"

While quite the loaded question, we're going to dig a little deeper here to provide you some insight on how social listening can directly affect your marketing and your brand as a whole.

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Among other things, social listening can:

  • Give you topic ideas for the subjects your audience WANTS to know about and not just what you think they might want to hear about;


  • First and foremost identifying your competitive advantage and then taking advantage of it;


  • Social listening allows you to "tune in" to all of the ways your competitors might be (and probably are) undermining your efforts to grow and succeed in your industry;


  • You'll be able to better optimize your marketing efforts and narrow down on what is and isn't working in the grand scheme of things;


  • Optimizing your ROi is pretty high on the list, and definitely one you'll want to take advantage of;


  • Social listening will allow you to increase brand awareness through previously undiscovered channels and improve your overall brand sentiment;


  • Track your brand health, overcome and adapt in the ways you need to in order to be successful;


  • And finally, social listening can help you stay on track when it comes to your social media efforts and strategy as you shoot for the stars. (And success, of course.)

Social listening can influence other major business decisions too, like whether you should be present in certain areas or the introduction of new products.

The important thing is not jumping at every comment and making changes, but rather looking at overall themes and taking action where they seem to be the most prominent.

There's always going to be haters that you can't please, so pleasing everyone is not an option. As you embark on your social listening journey, I advise you to take every shift slowly and keep an eye on the data you have available. If you make a wrong turn, retrace your steps and try again. It's not failure, it's just a piece of the puzzle and a part of your journey. Don't forget that.

The Incorporation of Social Listening Into Your Social Media Strategy

There's a billion different ways you could incorporate social listening, but the important thing is sifting through the noise and getting at what really matters.

With all that's going on constantly on the internet every minute, it would be borderline IMPOSSIBLE, (okay, forget borderline) to sift through every single bit of information just to walk away with so little.


Image Credit: Lyfe Marketing

So the first step you need to do when it comes to social listening is identify the words people are using when they're talking about or around your brand on social media. We call these particular words your "brand buzz words" and identifying them is a crucial step in the process of finding out what and how people are talking about your brand.

And no, this isn't your social handles and usernames, or even your product names and brand name alone. It can include anything from mascots to certain industry hashtags, and even local hashtags and industry names and products.

With the help of the tools that we mentioned earlier, you'll be able to easily sift through the information to find what you need to move forward with your data analysis.

Keep in mind that it might take several weeks to find the "typical" in all the noise. Once you have it, though, you can use the "typical" to make decisions about what needs to change, shift or stay the way it is for your future success.

As you track over longer and longer periods of time, your data will change with it as your "typical" changes. This is all to be expected and actually leads to more accurate data and thus better results!

You'll (Most Likely) Uncover Some Unknown Customer Problems

Social media is usually the place we share the best points in our lives. Marriages, celebrations, new jobs, our growing businesses, new babies, grandchildren, giggles, cake, accomplishments...all of the wonderful pieces of our lives become a collage on social media.

However, you'd be surprised at the number of people who take to social media to vent anger, misplaced trust and disappointment. And this is where things can get sticky for businesses. After all, one wrong word or angry comment can often result in lots of lost traffic and a damaged reputation on social.

We say all of this to say that you shouldn't be surprised when you basically inevitably pull up painful problems and comments from your audience. It happens. And thankfully integrating social listening into your social media strategy can result in more opportunities to respond to hate filled comments and upset customers to minimize the damage.

Social Listening is Ultimately a Way to Grow and Stay on Top

Whether you're using the data you get to better utilize your ad campaigns or just connect better with your audience and tailor content to their needs, social listening is ultimately the way to grow and stay on top of your competitors.

And guess what??! We're HERE TO HELP! From social listening to tailored content and paid ads campaigns, we're THE social media agency with the tools, expertise and inspiration to get your brand to a place where you can thrive on social media.

Are you in? Get in touch with our creative geniuses and get started TODAY!

Adam Palmer

Cocktail Connoisseur | Traveler | Social Media Strategy Enthusiast | Chicago, IL

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