5 Tips for Using Social Listening to Understand Customers

By Kimberlee Morrison Comment

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Data has become an increasingly important part of the social media equation. However, for many marketers the challenge is giving this data context and using it to optimize campaigns. While some social media marketers feel as though they have to become data scientists, there are plenty of social listening tools to help marketers uncover useful insights about their customers.

Anil Kaul, CEO of social analytics technology provider Absolutdata, says that many marketers think social listening is changing. For the last few years, marketers have been focused on listening in a very literal sense to what consumers are saying about their company, product or brand and using that information to take some form of action.

Now, marketers are going beyond what Kaul referred to as “traditional listening,” and applying social data to decision-making processes. For example, Kaul said this kind of listening can be used when developing a pricing strategy by using social to find out whether people are complaining about prices being too high, if they like the value of your product or if you’re hitting all the price points.

He added:

I think just the definition of listening itself is starting to broaden compared to what it has been over the past few years.

Kaul said the most common mistakes marketers make are listening inconsistently, listening too literally and not listening on enough social platforms. It’s important, he said, to listen consistently, across a wide range of platforms, for the purpose of understanding the sentiment behind what consumers are saying.

He offered these five tips for using social listening to understand your customers:

  1. Listen regularly and often. Kaul said that not listening regularly means missing clues and trends you could be using to improve your business. Make sure you have tools and people in place to take action before it’s too late.
  2. Listen beyond word frequency patterns. Too often marketers listen to what people are saying but don’t look for the deeper meaning behind what they’re saying. Understand the underlying theme that emerges from the data you’re gathering.
  3. Avoid a myopic view of social media. Social media trends change quickly and listening on only established platforms could create a very limited view of what’s happening. Kaul said the most effective social media marketers are on established platforms like Facebook, but also pay attention to emerging platforms as well.
  4. Don’t look at data in isolation. Leverage social media data across your entire organization. Kaul said from pricing to customer service to product development, every department can use social media data to make better decisions.
  5. Invest in technology wisely. Kaul warned against seeing technology as the solution to everything, adding that technology requires skilled people who know how to interpret the data. 

Readers: How do you listen to the conversation around your brand?

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