How to Harness the Power of Social Listening

Social listening is one of those topics that gets swept up into conversations about social media but rarely gets the full attention it deserves.

Perhaps that’s because it’s still one of the areas of social media that’s not fully understood, and you might also have concerns about whether social listening is a good use of your time or a black hole of search terms.

If that’s the case, we don’t blame you for thinking that! Social listening is one of those things that you really need to have a plan for and a strong idea of what you’re listening for. But when done right it can actually help you to achieve more on social media in less time and with less effort. Want to know how?

Read on to learn 5 quick wins you can achieve with social listening that are applicable to all organisations. But first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page.

What is social listening?

Social media listening is the process of proactively searching social media channels for mentions of a specific keyword or phrase, such as a brand name, a person, product or service. Once you start listening effectively, you can analyse conversations, draw insights from them, and use that information to your advantage.

How can you benefit from social listening?

1. Identifying opportunities to engage

For most organisations, increasing engagement is a high-priority social media objective but it’s not always so easy to achieve. Driving engagement with the content that you’ve created is just half the story. Have you considered what conversations might be going on across social media about your organisation that could provide the perfect opportunity to get involved?

For instance, this post from The Late Late Show was the perfect opportunity for Lego to get involved and keep the conversation going or even just re-tweet the content. Not only is user generated content super powerful as audiences tend to trust the opinions of real people over brands, but in this case, James Corden has a massive following in his own right and could help to appeal to different audiences.

This is the kind of content that can be missed without basic social listening set up for your brand name. Not all social media users will tag your brand directly when they talk to you or about you so make sure you don’t miss out on easy opportunities to create more noise!

Top tip! If you’re a SoCrowd user don’t forget that you can spot key influencers to prioritise engaging with by the blue tick next to their name making it even easier to find awesome engagement opportunities!

2. Collecting immediate feedback

When it comes to understanding what your customers or audiences think of your latest product/initiative or campaign, collecting accurate feedback in a timely manner can be tricky. We’ve all seen emails asking for feedback in our inboxes or on websites, but chances are even if you’ve had the best possible experience with an organisation, they’re asking for feedback too late and you’ve already moved on.

Increasingly, if customers do have comments, questions or concerns following an interaction with an organisation they will talk about it on social media in the moment. Not wait for when you’re ready to receive their feedback in a formal channel.

Innocent Drinks receive lots of lovely feedback about their smoothies including comments on which flavours customers are loving and how popular their social media activity is. This is information that can factor into product development and supports continued investment in their social media activity!

Of course not all feedback will necessarily be positive but understanding what your audiences think can definitely help when it comes to making crucial business decisions. Consider analysing the sentiment of this feedback to build a more detailed view of customer opinions and track how this changes over time.

3. Curating relevant social media content

We recently discussed the value of having a balance of social media content you have created, and social media content that you have curated because it’s often a much faster way to generate content that helps to position your channel as an authority on the topic. 

However, curating content is only an efficient tactic if you can find relevant articles, news and insights to share easily. That’s where social listening can help by doing the hard work of searching various social media channels for you and presenting you with a list of content that matches your interests. It’s then just a case of picking and choosing which posts to share/re-tweet/quote tweet!

The team at Goals Soccer Centres have found this to be a particularly useful tactic for finding fantastically shareable content all about 5-a-side football such as this post from the Premier League. Curated content is a strong element of the organisation’s social media strategy as it helps to position their social media channels as a source of the latest news and entertainment from the football world that will keep audiences engaged.

You can find out more about how the social media team at Goals Soccer Centres co-ordinate content creation and manage campaigns across their 46 UK sites in our upcoming webinar — click here to find out more and register!

4. Stopping potential crises in their tracks

We all know that a sticky situation raised on social media can impact an organisation’s reputation in just minutes and so speed is of the essence. It might be a complaint that escalates or it might be a problem with your product or service – either way, listening out for conversations that could develop into full blown crises is an important part of social listening.

It’s as simple as outlining potential risks to your organisation and then setting up related searches for key words associated with those challenges. That way you won’t be the last to know if a situation does start to turn sour!

In this case we’ve chosen an example from a Tesla customer who found himself stranded with his young children after his car would not turn back on once they were in a more remote location that did not have mobile service. Fortunately the Tesla team are very proactive when it comes to social listening and picked this commentary up to offer their help and the customer actually praised Tesla for their quick response in getting the problem resolved.

5. Competitor comparisons

Finally, don’t forget that where you can see what your own customers and audiences are saying about you, as this information is all public it’s also possible to see what your competitors’ customers are talking about.

By establishing a set of searches for your main competitors you can start to get a feel for how you compare in the eyes of customers. In this case as Bannatyne have been tagged they can see that they are successfully drawing customers away from their competitors, but Pure Gym have no oversight of this as they have not been @mentioned. Without listening for these conversations it’s very difficult to determine how your organisation may be viewed in comparison to others in your market and also to capitalise on these opportunities to ask for feedback.

Tools for social listening

You can use tools like SoCrowd’s Buzz Monitor to further automate and simply your social listening by setting up searches that will send relevant results to your email inbox each morning ready for you to review and action as required. You can further tailor results by applying geo-filters to listen for conversations in specific countries, regions or even postcodes.

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Is social listening part of your social media strategy and what results have you seen so far? We want to hear your thoughts – get in contact @SoCrowd!