What is social listening?
Social listening is the new “authentic”.
It's hard to find marketers who didn't say or write the word "social listening" as part of their 2021 strategy. Just as authentic content was the marketing term of all terms a few years ago, social listening is the marketing term of the year today.
Social listening has gained so much fame because it is an absolute necessity in 2021 and beyond. Marketers have been using their social channels for years to survey their target audience and ask them what content they want to see or what products they need. Social listening takes this survey to the next level.
With social listening, brands can not only listen to content and product ideas. You can find out what your customer avatar is thinking and talking about.
And that's THE power tool in a marketer's toolbox.
What is social listening?
Social listening happens when a brand listens to its audience on social channels. As you listen to your audience, read comments and look for flagged content that will tell you where your customer sentiment is. Sometimes that feeling is specific to your brand, and sometimes it's global events.
For example, brands can use social listening to see their audience's opinion on their latest campaign, or to see what their customers think about their products. Or brands can use social listening to find out what their customers are talking about and find a way to join the conversation.
With social listening, brands (and especially social media marketers) can build a brand presence that aligns with their customer avatar. We now have a direct line of communication with our customers and it is important to take advantage of that.
Why does it matter?
Social listening is the future of marketing. Technically, it has always been part of marketing. Brands have listened to their customers for years by asking them to fill out surveys and leave their feedback. With social media, marketers get a different approach to their customers. Instead of getting their filtered opinions through curated surveys and feedback, they can be a fly on the wall of the conversations that their audience and customers have.
This gives marketers the ability to create campaigns that are specifically tailored to their clients' thoughts and ideas. For example, if a beauty brand finds that their audience is always asking for a specific shade of eyeshadow – and the brand doesn't already have that color – they can use social listening to validate the new shade of eyeshadow. That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social listening.
Brands can determine when their audience is talking about a particular book, podcast, episode, or TV show and create content that shows they know their stuff.
Brands can use social listening to:
- Think about new product ideas
- Validate product ideas
- Create timely campaigns
- If necessary, apologize
As the social continues to mature, the ability to listen socially will increase. This is where social listening differs from authentic content. With authentic content, we've seen a trend of people wanting to see real life through curated Instagram photos. Social listening gives us permanent insight into the real opinions of our customers.
And that gives us an advantage that we've never had before.
Examples of social listening
Social listening comes in all shapes and sizes.
For example, here's how Lowe used social media to hear the audience's complaint about ice cream in the parking lot. They responded by asking the customer which store they'd gone to so they could get salt in the parking lot and avoid further complaints or, worse, accidents.
Most of the time, social listening can be used to have a better experience. This experience can either be in the first three phases of the customer value journey (awareness, engagement, and subscription) before someone becomes a customer, or in the fourth phase (conversion) when they make their first purchase.
With a comment like this, the ATP card game has two clear requests from its customers. 1) Make their instructions easier to understand. 2) Your customers want sample games and tutorials that show them how to play the game. ATP Card Games uses social listening to improve the customer experience (and exactly how to do it!).
To be clear, social listening doesn't always lead to negative comments. The negative comments are great for making improvements, but you will also find a lot of great feedback by listening to your audience.
BarkBox received this positive tweet from a happy customer. BarkBox can see that the customer experience is exactly what they want from social listening. You have now validated your customer experience and received free promotions thanks to your satisfied customer.
Social listening is not to be considered. It's something that you can put into your marketing strategy right away.
Social listening tools
There are a ton of tools out there, some of which are extremely sophisticated and which can make this process a lot easier.
Tools like Mention (that's what we use here at DigitalMarketer) and the more sophisticated Radian6 can provide your community manager with live streams of social media notifications that specialize in keywords:
These platforms can also assign individual comments and tweets to specific members of your team, making the feedback loop process a breeze. For example, ATP card games can ping their content team and ask them to create some tutorials while also pinging their product team about the feedback on the instructions.
While social listening has the same viral tone as authentic a few years ago – it's an animal in itself.
Social listening gives marketers information they've never had before. The more you know about your customer avatar, the better your products and campaigns will be. Social listening allows marketers to see a new page of their customer base – the page that is not reflected in curated surveys and other types of feedback.
Use social listening to keep your brand updated and prepare to be creative when an opportunity arises.