BLOG POST BY SARAH MALCOLM, CHIEF DIGITAL STRATEGIST AT THE NEWS FUNNEL
Social media marketing excellence is more than generating quality content. A critical component requires listening to your consumers. Sure, fielding customer queries, service issues, and monitoring online reviews helps gather insightful product intelligence. But to really uncover a richer, more complete picture, content professionals need to monitor the conversations the company is not directly tagged in. Doing this requires smart social listening practices.
What is social listening?
Effective social listening discovers the chatter not just about your specific product or company, but the industry as a whole. To listen requires tuning into customer conversations about the product, company, and industry. Go beyond company-designated hashtags and keywords to follow industry-wide hashtags and conversations.
How Can You Listen Better?
During your social media strategy planning, someone in your content marketing department needs to be the designated social media listener. Larger companies may designate a single person solely focused on social listening, sometimes referred to as an analyst. This monitor must tune in to all channels, including ones the brand may not be actively using. Furthermore, a competent social listener will monitor all the time: during campaigns and outside campaigns. In this way, you will identify industry influencers, changing trends, and head off potential social media crises.
Think about the words that are used to describe the industry. Sometimes using these keywords cues you into important conversations. When using hashtags or keywords to monitor social media conversations, remember to look for misspelled versions, too. Use paid or free tools to conduct the searches you need when tracking industry conversations. One shortcut to find industry chatter is to identify the industry influencers, follow them, and subscribe to their RSS feeds.
Remember listening isn’t just pulling metrics on mentions and content shares. Anyone can run the numbers, but quantifying the social mood is something more intricate. Social listeners are the first people to recognize new trends that the company can jump on. Mannequin challenge ring a bell? A listener responds to positive and negative consumer feedback. They share great content from others to build relationships inside the industry.
By listening, you're gathering content that's being produced by everyone in your industry circle. You will see the feedback your competition is receiving through their content strategy. Gain insight into how the competition is conducting their business and what your key customers are looking for in the ideal product.
Update Your Plan
While social listening, pay attention to where the conversations are happening. If your current social media strategy focuses on Facebook, but a large number of industry-related material is cropping up on Instagram, think about experimenting with the changing the content focus to Instagram for a quarter. To be proactively part of the conversation, you have to be where the audience lives.
Polling consumers and reading social media reviews do help businesses gain valuable feedback. Social listening elevates your insights and paints a fuller picture. If you’re not already doing it, try it. Use the insights to fine tune your content strategy and products.