To become a good speaker, you must first become a good listener; the same is true for businesses. Social listening gives brands an opportunity to track, analyze, and respond to conversations about them on social media. 

A key component to audience research, social listening is when you track social media platforms for mentions and conversations related to your brand, then analyze them for insights and opportunities to improve or act upon. 

What is Social Listening? 

Social listening is more than taking a look at your social media metrics and monitoring your return on investment. It’s a two-step process that happens when you take action in response to the data that you’ve collected on your brand. This includes: 

Step One: Monitor social media channels for mentions of your business, competitors, products, and keywords that are related to your business. 

Step Two: Analyze the information for ways to put the data that you’ve gathered into action. This can range from responding to a happy customer, or shifting your entire brand to align with what your audience is looking for. 

All too often, brands are guessing and not listening. Keeping track of the overall sentiment of your brand helps to keep your marketing and product/service developments on track. It also helps you respond immediately to positive or negative feedback. Social listening is more than simply counting the number of times that your brand gets mentioned. It helps you understand how people feel about you and your competitors. 

One great example of social listening happened in 2019. Nike found their brand in the middle of a major controversy when Duke basketball player Zion Williamson’s Nike shoe exploded mid-game. The game was being broadcasted on national television- and all eyes were on Nike from everyone from people watching at home to news stations and celebrities. Immediately, the social media team at Nike jumped to the challenge- responding to concerned customers, and releasing a statement the next day wishing Zion Williamson well and promising investigation. Within 24-hours of the potential-crisis, Nike rectified itself by responding quickly and effectively, offering Williamson an advertising deal. 

In addition to the positive benefits that social listening can have to your brand’s messaging and engagement, it can also help you to track what people are saying about your competition. Knowing what others are saying about your competitors, the good, and the bad, give you important insights into how you can outshine your competition. Learn what your competitors are doing in real-time. Are they launching a new product or marketing campaign? Find new opportunities and potential threats as they happen, so you can plan your marketing strategies accordingly. 

Setting Up Social Listening

What are you listening to? Begin by choosing keywords and topics that are relevant to your brand. As you continue to use social listening tools, pay attention and learn what other words people are using in conjunction with your business and industry, and get a sense of what else to listen to. 

To get started, use this list of important keywords and topics to monitor from the start: 

  • Your brand name and handles. 
  • Your competitors’ brand names, product names, and handles. 
  • Your product names, including common misspellings. 
  • Campaign names or keywords. 
  • Names of key people in your company and your competitors’. 
  • Your slogan and those of your competitors. 
  • Industry buzzwords. 
  • Your branded hashtags and those of your competitors. 
  • Unbranded hashtags that are related to your industry. 

Insert the next step: searching these daily, or using social listening tools, like Sprout, Hootsuite, Agorapulse, Tweetdeck, etc. 

Top Social Listening Tips

1. Listen Everywhere: Conversations about your brand on LinkedIn are likely to be very different than on Instagram. Knowing where your customers talk about you is just as important as how they talk about you. It helps you set a clear strategy for joining the conversation through organic engagement. 

2. Expect Changes: As you begin to collect information, you’ll develop a sense of the overall sentiment around your brand. Once you know how people feel, you’ll know when or how the feeling changes. Major changes in your engagement or sentiment can mean that the overall perception of your brand has changed, and you need to understand why so your strategy can adapt.

3. Take Action: Social listening is all about gaining insights into what your customers and potential customers want from you, and how you can give it to them. Be sure to analyze patterns and trends as the overall insights that you gain from social listening have the most powerful effects in guiding your future marketing. 

Are you ready to get started? Set up social listening with the social media gurus at D3 and jump into the important conversations happening about your brand.