Social media listening.
It's a term you probably hear often, but you might not know exactly what it means... or how it differs from social media monitoring.
And that's okay. Social media listening is a relatively new phenomenon in the social media marketing world—but at the same time, it's a vital one you cannot ignore in 2019.
So, let's start with a simple definition of social media listening: in short, social media listening tells you what your customer wants in a product, service, or other offering and why they want it.
But how does social media listening do that? And further, how does one actively listen to social media without keeping tabs on hundreds of social media searches manually?
If you're asking those questions, you're in the right place—because in today's article, we'll discuss what social listening is, discuss how you can do it, and end with six key things your brand can learn from social media listening.
The information we share in this article is meant to be practical and actionable. So by the end of this article, we're confident that your brand will be convinced to use social media listening to expand its audience knowledge.
Sound good with you? Let's dive in!
But first, what's the difference between social media monitoring and listening?
Did an elementary school teacher ever tell you that there's a difference between listening and really listening?
And by that he or she meant: there's a difference between smiling and nodding along with a conversation and actually thinking through a conversation, articulating your thoughts, and giving a meaningful response or learning something from it.
That's very similar to the difference between social media monitoring and social media listening.
Social media monitoring is—more often than not—waiting for a problem to arise, responding to it, and moving on. For example, if a customer has an issue with your website, you monitor for that tweet and respond with a solution.
But social media listening takes this one step further.
With listening, you actively keep tabs on industry hashtags, keywords, and competitor accounts on your brand. Then, you read through matching tweets, pins, and other social posts and see what you can learn from them.
For example, search for things like:
- Your brand name and social media account handles
- Product names and misspellings
- Company slogans and nicknames
- Competitor names and related keywords
- Generic industry hashtags
- Industry buzzwords
Find trends within these search results and use them to harden your product offering, keep up with cutting-edge new trends, and otherwise ensure your social media is running smoothly.
For example, if you're a coffee company, you'll likely want to run searches for your brand's name, different blends of coffee, "[your city name]'s best coffee shops", competitor coffee shop names, and more.
Then, read through these results and see what insights you can pull from them. Maybe you'll see that local coffee-holics love a type of specialty latte at your competitor's shop but hate their new breakfast sandwiches.
Or, you might learn that a specific part of town has no good coffee shops, uncovering a possible new location for your shop.
This is what your brand can learn from social media listening
You're halfway there. Now you know what social listening is, but now, let's took a look at six things you can learn from social media listening in 2019 and how you can take action on your newfound knowledge.
1. Know your key demographics
Keep an eye on who is talking about your brand, related products, and competitors.
Then, look at their location, age, and other demographic information.
Doing this will help you better understand who your audience is and how you can better market to them—so make sure to take full advantage of it.
Even better, you can use tools like Social Report to pull this demographic information without having to manually search through profiles.
Just make a new search and click on the Performance tab to view age, following, and location data for people using your keywords.
You should still go a step beyond this though.
Look through some individual accounts and try and keep track of common interests. Use this to curate future content and make sure that you're writing for the right audience.
2. Find influencers in your industry
When social listening, there's no doubt that you'll start to see social shares from influencers in the space.
Don't gloss over these: instead, take note of them.
Follow the popular influencers in your space and pay attention to what they're talking about. These people are at the forefront of your industry and there's no doubt that they're on the hunt for new trends themselves, so why not capitalize on their research?
Keep these influencers in a database. This will come in handy when you want to start your own influencer marketing campaign.
Social Report can help you with this, too.
Just make a new search and click into the Influencers tab. Here you can view people using your keywords the most and the most popular people that have used your keywords.
3. Tweak and adjust your content strategy in real-time with sentiment analysis
Sentiment analysis is a hot topic in 2019 and not something you should ignore.
In short, this is when you run searches for your product names, brand names, and related buzzwords on social media. Then, you gauge how your audience feels about said topics.
You can—and should—run sentiment analysis on your own brand and its products.
Look for what people love and don't love about your product, and forward it to your engineering team. Your whole team this as groundwork for continuing to improve your products.
We recommend treating sentiment analysis like a project. Look for downturns in your brand's sentiment, find the root of the problem, and work to solve it before it becomes a brand image disaster.
Further, run sentiment analysis on industry terms and your competitors. You can also use this to find which new industry terms are popular, and which should be avoided—trust us, it's a lot easier than making the mistakes yourself.
4. Market research for all: find new product ideas right from the source
Market research has long been an expensive and time consuming process.
You need to put together a focus group, compensate participants, and hope that they give you honest responses to your questions.
Thankfully, social media listening puts an end to this archaic process.
Now all social media users can be your focus group. And the best part? It's completely free and they don't know they're a part of your experiment.
But don't worry: it isn't as evil as it sounds.
Just put your ear to the ground and listen for pain points, feature requests, and "wishes" from people in your target industry and demographic.
Take note of these complaints and wishes and use them to improve your product lineup, content offerings, or whatever else you sell.
For example, if you're a coffee shop, look for social media posts that reference someone's favorite coffee flavor or type of latte. There's a good chance that you can move caramel cappuccinos if you see 300 tweets wishing for one.
And like discussed earlier, you can even use tools like Social Report to restrict your searches to a specific location, so you can get hyper-local insights on what people want.
Just make sure this information is shared outside of your social media team. After all, finding this data does no good if it never makes it to your product development team!
5. Find leads and start social selling
When running searches for related industry terms, look for people looking to make a purchase.
For example, if you're a car dealer running a local search for "used cars" and "used BMW", make note of the people that are discussing making this purchase.
Then, when appropriate, reach out to these people and introduce your product. Try and help this person solve their problem with your product.
Oh, and make sure to keep a close eye on your social media mentions too.
When you see someone reaching out with a product question, make sure you actively respond and answer their questions. Otherwise, your lead go cold.
Make social selling easier with Social Report's Tasks feature
Do you work with a sales team? Use Social Report's Tasks feature to delegate tasks.
To do this, just add your sales team as project users so they have access to the Social Report dashboard.
Then, when you find a qualified lead in Social Report Search, click the blue pin button next to the social media message to open the task creation window.
You can then choose Sales Lead from the task type, chose who you want to assign the task to, and click the Save Task button.
The salesperson will be assigned the message and can reach out directly to the lead directly—no emails, Slack messages, or other communication between sales and marketing teams required.
6. Search outside of traditional social networks
Ready to start social media listening? Great news! Just make sure you're listening to more than just LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
Your brand should also be listening to blogs, review sites, and forums sites like Quora and Reddit.
Listening on these sites will give you a super well-rounded look at your social media and what people think about your products and industry.
One great example of this is Reddit. Keeping an eye on related subreddits can be a great place to gauge opinions on any number of topics in your industry.
For example, if you sell invoicing software to lawyers, keep an eye on r/lawyers and r/law. Chances are you'll see lawyers discussing what they love and hate about their current invoicing software.
Further, we've found that conversations on Reddit, Quora, and other related sites go much deeper than social media discussions, so you'll get better insights.
Thankfully, Social Report's social listening tool supports Reddit.
Just add a subreddit of your choice, and you'll be able to monitor for mentions of keywords of your choice. This will save you time and expand your listening—nice.
How to start social media listening with Social Report
Thankfully, you don't need to run thousands of manual social media searches to start social media listening—just use Social Report.
Here at Social Report, we package a social listening tool with our complete social media management tool. It doesn't cost any extra to use and it's included with all of our plans.
We call this tool Search. 🔎
Using this tool, you can create Search Agents that run ongoing searches for up to ten keywords at once. Here's how:
You can create a search by clicking on the Search button on the toolbar. Then, click the New Search button from the drop-down menu.
Now, fill out your search criteria. Here's a rundown of all the options on the New Search screen with a quick definition:
- Name – Give search a name.
- Where would you like to search? – Choose whether to search everywhere (all publicly accessible networks) or only within your own networks connected to your Social Report account (the people you're following). You can also search within a specific set of RSS feeds.
- What keywords would you like to search for? – Enter the keywords, hashtags, or social media handles you'd like to search for. You can add any mix of these here.
- What keywords would you like to exclude? – You can exclude specific keywords from your search if you'd like.
- Would you like to restrict results by location? – You can search within a specific country with a custom radius of any address worldwide. Just keep in mind not all posts from networks are geo-tagged, so using this option will reduce the number of results.
Once your search is ready to go, you're ready to start social listening. Just click the blue Save button at the bottom right-corner of the screen and the search will initialize—your search results will be available in the next hour or so.
Then, monitor your searches regularly. You can export all results to a PDF or Excel document too—just click the export button at the top of the Search Agent's window.
In this article you learned what social media listening is, how to do it, and what you can learn from it. Let us know how your brand uses social media listening in the comments—we're excited to hear from you.
Need an awesome social media listening tool? Try Social Report free for 30 days.