What is Social Listening?
Updated: Dec 14, 2017
Chatter about net neutrality has been ongoing on social media for at least a week. People wondered what exactly was at stake if the Federal Trade Commission, or FCC, overturned a two-year-old set of rules passed during the Obama administration. The rules were intended to protect consumers by regulating telecom and cable industries, which includes companies like AT&T and Verizon. If left unregulated, broadband businesses could do things like fluctuate the speed of service for some apps and websites.
However, today was the day they would learn what the FCC would do. People at work could simply put in a hashtag and within a few swipes on their smartphone discover the fate of the Internet. Ironically, the hashtag that drove the most interaction was spelled wrong, According to USA Today, #NetNeutality was trending this morning and not #NetNeutrality. Despite the misspellings, both were the top trending items on Twitter for most of the day.
So, while this is a great example that demonstrates how people gravitate to the Internet to listen to online conversations, it also offers a great lesson about social monitoring. Make sure to pay attention to different variations of hashtags.
#Sociallistening is when you track, analyze, and respond to online conversations. It is similar to uncovering a treasure trove full of golden coins, trinkets, and gems. These items represent the types of conversations taking place throughout #socialmedia.
The conversations consist of the chats your prospects and customers are having about your products, services, and brand, and the conversations that are taking place about your competition and the industry as a whole.
Social listening helps to determine the value of your activities whether they occur online and offline. You can use the information to influence action far beyond marketing. Social listening can help to create meaningful and relevant content and insights that provide the C-suite with real-time support.
Here are some “treasures” you can listen for:
Customer needs and expectations
Comparisons with competitors
Customer’s perception of the brand or industry
Triggers for negative responses
Activities that your customers are doing or working on
Problems with products, services, or features
Feedback that indicates what’s been working and what hasn’t
The information that you are paying attention to isn’t necessarily presented in a way that makes it easy to identify, so you will need to establish a process. First, do some social monitoring. This is when you look for mentions about the brand and its products and services; the competition; the market; and the industry as well as the top industry that customers gravitate too. You’ll also want to track social sites, #hashtags, and communities. Then, listen to the conversations. The tools that can help you monitor these conversations for mentions, include #Hootsuite, #SproutSocial, and #Mention.
While social listening is effective for existing audiences, it can also help create an audience. When you are building a platform, use social listening to find out the needs and expectations of potential customers, customers’ feedback about similar products and services, and get customers’ perceptions about the industry.
Start by looking at the conversations taking place on your competitor’s platform. Next, find and join online groups and communities on social networking sites where your potential customers congregate. Listen to them and chime in from time to time to help further the conversation, and get the answers that you need for your social media strategy and promotions.
Social listening gives you some insight on what consumers think about your activities, your brand, your competition, and your industry.
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