The sheer number of social media posts blazing through feeds every minute can be overwhelming, but don’t let it deter you from engaging in one of the most important things modern marketers need to master: social listening.
It’s crucial to cut through the noise, sit back, and truly listen to the digital conversations taking place around you. Doing this will show you who your audience really is, make it possible to develop a campaign that delights them, and add a whole new level of responsiveness to your company.
The Advantages of Social Listening
For example, let’s say you begin tracking conversations on Twitter that include a hashtag of your company’s name. If you happen to encounter a recurring customer service issue that several customers are complaining about, not only could you quickly reply to each individual with an appropriate resolution, but you could also circulate that information throughout your company to help improve future products and steer future initiatives.
By monitoring and appropriately responding to these sentiments, you not only have a golden opportunity to reverse poor customer perceptions and actively resolve customer service issues, but you also appear more compassionate and human.
More specifically, turning an ear to online conversations can result in a few distinct marketing advantages:
- Increased brand devotion: Through consistent online engagement with your audience, you can build a band of devoted followers. When customers and prospects feel like their voices are heard, your brand can forge an emotional attachment that translates into deep-rooted loyalty. In fact, 53 percent of Americans who follow brands on social media are more loyal to those companies.
- Two-way, instantaneous intimacy: Social listening does more than provide insight into your true audience demographics; it’s also a two-way street. Customers have the opportunity to engage and connect with you on a more intimate level, which only further tightens the bonds of loyalty. They won’t have to wait on hold for an hour or repeatedly press 0 to hear a human voice — effective social listening swiftly and humanly responds to customer queries.
- Valuable perspectives:When it comes down to it, your company is nothing without its customers. How could you possibly have all the answers without their feedback? Product research can only tell you so much, but by tapping into real, unfiltered customer reactions and gripes about your product, you can start to connect the dots, chart out trends, and uncover areas for improvement.
- Areas for exploration: Customers and prospects aren’t afraid to voice their opinions about what they wish you could offer or companies that upstage your service. Pay attention to these sentiments as potential areas of growth and advancement.
How to Listen With Meaning
Think about it: No customer wants to follow a content machine. You have to strike a balance between participating in marketing-based conversations and blasting out information. When you take a “wait and react” approach rather than the typical “buzz creating” attitude that tends to drive audiences away, you’ll emit a refreshing and approachable presence.
It’s a long-term approach that will produce dividends in brand evangelism down the road, but to make your social listening efforts worthwhile, there are a few best practices to consider:
- Go in with an actionable game plan and goals.In the congested social world, it’s difficult to know where to start your search. By developing a clearly defined strategy, objectives, and keywords and adhering to those throughout the listening process, you can better allocate your resources and home in on the most pertinent people and information.
- Seek out customers, prospects, and thought leaders. Although your customers are the ultimate target, they aren’t always the ones commanding the industry conversation. It’s important to be vigilant of customers and prospects, but don’t discount the value of industry influencers who could be engaging with the same people you’re after.
- Start your own social conversations. If the conversation surrounding your brand is quiet, make some noise by reaching out to targeted individuals to see who bites and what feedback you can gather.
- Analyze the results.What does the main demographic that uses your product look like? Which influencers and brands do they revere? Which types of campaigns do they respond to best? What does this persona want more or less of from your brand? Consider all the information you learn from social listening, and launch a social-specific marketing campaign to pull even more data from leads that interact with you.
- Hone your marketing accordingly. Take note of the customers who speak the loudest and the most often. You can create personas and personalities based on the overarching type of person who follows your brand to better pinpoint your target market. Armed with their perceptions, suggestions, and attitudes toward your brand and offering, you can optimize your campaigns to appeal directly to this audience.
Listening to both the good and bad conversations around your brand can illuminate your product’s impact and reveal rich details about those who have taken notice of your brand or used your product.
But the brand that yells the loudest won’t win over the hearts and ears of those who matter most to it. Let your audience do the talking, and you’ll walk away with the information you need to craft a message that customers and prospects want to hear.
Brandon Houston is the CEO of Switch Video, a video animation company that produces simple videos that “explain what you do” in an engaging and compelling format. He welcomes anyone to reach out to him on Twitter.