Everything You Need To Know About Social Listening

To avoid using social listening is to avoid generating potential leads, fixing clients' complaints, and staying ahead of competitors.
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What is Social Listening

Hear: (v.) 1. To be told or informed of.

Listen: (v.) 1. To hear something with thoughtful attention.

There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening, although they are largely mistaken as synonyms. Listening refers to the attention and consideration added to the physical act of hearing with your ear. Social listening has the same connotations.

Today, there are social media monitoring tools available to extract insights from the billions of conversations happening online every day around the globe (and by online we mean everything from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to online broadcasts, blogs, forums, articles and comments, to name a few). To avoid using social listening is to avoid generating potential leads, fixing clients' complaints, and staying ahead of competitors. Welcome to the world of social listening.

Why You Need Social Listening

1. To generate leads by solving problems:

Monitor keywords that relate to people's problems and needs or their frustrations with a product of one of your competitors. Try searching for "[your competitor's name] and [can't/won't]". Once you've identified these unhappy clients, you can assess their influence, reach out to them immediately or add them to contact lists and reach out to them directly at another stage. Consider sending a short, friendly message greeting them and explaining in no more than one sentence how you can fix their problem. Include a free demo or link to your website.

An extraordinary 79 percent of companies don't know they are being talked about by clients, prospects or competitors. This proves that either not enough companies have adapted to social listening, or not enough are using it effectively.

Bonus Tip:

Remember to search for any company's name (yours or your competitor's) with or without the @ symbol, as most clients won't use it as they aren't intending to reach out to the company directly. Also, search for common spelling mistakes if the brand name is especially difficult. (You'd be surprised how often Meltwater is misspelt and mispronounced).

2. To attract prospects:

To generate new leads for your business, search for keywords that people may use when searching for "what to use" or "how to do" something relevant to your product. Using the advanced Boolean search, you can filter out unnecessary mentions of specific keywords. For instance, when searching for our company, Meltwater, we may need to filter out "icecaps."

Join the conversation and pay attention to what the potential client's needs and expectations are. You need to determine if your product really does solve the problem to ensure you won't be agitating anyone by unnecessary self-promotion. But essentially, this is an incredible opportunity at gaining new prospects. Is there a better time to introduce yourself to someone who is looking for what you offer at the exact moment they need it?

Bonus Tip:

Three things are essential to focus on: the right time, the right platform and the right product. You have to promote the specific product or feature to the person who is searching for what that product offers. Social listening allows your business to discover where your target market is hanging out and which platform is most useful for you to be on. Listen to the conversations and provide valuable information at the right time.

3. Identify influencers:

Social listening enables businesses to identify key brand advocates or micro-influencers – people who live and love your brand. Especially if they have a large online influence, they can be very important for your business. Influencers authentically promote your products or services, endorse your brand reputation, boost awareness, drive positive word-of-mouth and extend your reach, ultimately opening up your business to so many more potential clients. Approaching them shouldn't be too tough either – if they are true fans, they would probably love to hear from you and would promote your brand on their social media channels without remuneration. As they say, "a happy customer is the best advocate."

Sounds pretty simple, right? The difficulty lies in finding them. A small portion of people will tag brands in their Instagram photos, @ mention them on Twitter, or email them directly. As for the rest, you need social media monitoring tools.

4. Monitor feedback:

The one thing that really is vital for growth and improvement is feedback. There is no point in trying to gain new leads, prospects and influencers if you are not monitoring the feedback you're receiving from your customers.

With social listening, you can track your positive and negative reviews, determine how well products are being received and if any changes need to be made. Improve customer care by appreciating positive comments and responding to negative ones – remember, it takes twelve positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. Negative feedback can be detrimental to your brand by losing you much more than just one customer. Use social media monitoring tools to detect negative feedback as it happens, in order to change them to positive experiences, and even gain more customers than you would have without the complaint. Truth earns trust: people respect honesty and the ability to admit faults and correct mistakes.

There is also the beauty of monitoring product feedback. Again, get back to negative comments as quickly as possible.

Bonus Tip:

  1. Promote brand transparency by sending a personalised email or reply. Use the customer's name and use your personal email address if possible.
  2. Assign complaints to a specific person or team in your company that are best suited to help with the particular problem.
  3. Take comments about the manufacturing or usability of your products into consideration. Understand that there is always room for improvement (which you should always be actively looking for) and listening to the customer who's using your product or service is the best way to discover that space.

How to Stay Ahead with Social Listening

Social listening goes beyond just tracking your mentions and notifications and replying when prompted. It requires an in-depth look at conversations that aren't necessarily talking directly about you. It means extracting valuable insights from the billions of online discussions happening at any given time. It means leveraging this data to improve customer care, generate new leads, identify important influencers and boost brand reputation.

More conversations are happening about you than with you. Make sure you're listening to them all.

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