In 2020, businesses experienced one of the worst possible scenarios as the COVID-19 pandemic ripped its way across the globe, shutting down in-person operations for almost everyone. As brands scrambled to adapt, it was critical to understand just how successful they were at creating a smooth transition for their consumers, but when in-person communication is no longer an option, where do they turn? The obvious choice — to social media. Successfully navigating social media is a necessary skill in the modern era. Over half of the world’s population has now logged on, according to a study by Smart Insights, and a brand’s ability to stay relevant in the ever-growing cyberspace has never been more important.
To keep up, it’s important to implement what’s called ‘social listening’ into social media strategies. So, first things first:
What is Social Listening?
Social listening is a two-step process involving tracking and analyzing keywords, trends, and conversations related to your business on social media. When done successfully, social listening can lead to:
- New campaign ideas
- Meaningful interactions with other users or brands
- More profound knowledge of your brand’s impact within the industry
- A better understanding of competitors
Unlike traditional forms of media, social media changes by the second as billions of users interact simultaneously. This creates the opportunity for constant engagement—should you know where to look.
The first step in social listening involves monitoring social media for all content relevant to your business, including trending topics, hashtags, memes, conversations, mentions, etc. From glowing reviews to harsh criticisms otherwise kept quiet, social media is regarded by users as a safe space to vent, allowing users to express themselves individually and share their honest opinions. Monitoring for these posts outside of your brand’s direct mentions can help you make informed decisions about how to fill the gaps effectively, thus embarking on the second step of the social listening process—the analysis.
How to Leverage Social Listening to Stay Competitive
- Take Advantage of App Features
Monitoring can look different on each platform, so it’s essential to stay up to date on each app’s latest features to optimize your brand’s presence on all platforms. For example, polls are a simple but effective way to understand your audience better. It’s rare anyone will ever be in the mood to fill out lengthy questionnaires, less so if there’s no financial incentive involved, but social media polls offer consumers the ability to communicate their opinions directly at the touch of a button. Social media polls also allow businesses to make informed decisions quickly, thanks to real-time feedback.
- Engage in Humor
At its core, social media is a tool for people to be social. Duh! When users log on, they’re looking to interact with the world around them and, naturally, will be drawn to interact with people and pages they like. Studies show humorous content is more memorable and can lead to your brand coming across as relatable, personable, and empathetic if done correctly—all likable qualities. Social listening can help determine trending hashtags, topics, and memes relevant to your content, helping your brand’s chances of going viral. This tactic can be especially helpful when choosing strategies for new product launches.
- Collaborate with Influencers
As social media grows, so does the world of influencer relations. Social listening allows you to find influencers with relevant audiences to your brand, which can then lead to lucrative collaborations. Influencer relations differ from influencer marketing because the influencer does not get paid. Influencer relations showcase an authentic relationship built between a creator and a brand’s product or service. When consumers see an influencer they trust advocating for your brand, it offers credibility that leads to a more trustworthy relationship between you and your consumers in the long run.
- Gain Competitor Intelligence
Social listening for competitive intelligence can give you insights into product launches, branding strategies and overall consumer sentiment. Monitoring users’ engagement with content from your competitors can give you a better idea of how your brand measures up in terms of branding strategies and overall consumer sentiment. Awareness of competitor mentions can also help you identify industry conversations in which you’d like your brand to be involved. In a crisis, real-time access to competitor movements and users’ responses on social media can help you decide how to best move forward with your own brand.
Remember, your ultimate goal on social media is to sustain a relationship with your clientele. Like all interpersonal relationships, efficient communication is necessary to maintain a positive connection, and communication involves both speaking and listening. Social listening offers your brand a chance to be proactive in the digital world and can lead to lucrative success when properly carried out. Monitor your audience’s feelings, and communicate with them throughout their journey to ensure their needs are met.
Bottom line: I wouldn’t stay in a relationship if I didn’t feel I was being listened to, would you?