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Have you ever mistaken social media listening and social media monitoring as the same thing? The truth is, the two are not the same, the former is the action taken after the latter.

Social monitoring is simply looking at social media channels. You do this to keep tabs on your brand mentions, monitor engagement rate and check relevant hashtags or industry trends.

Social listening, on the other hand, looks beyond the data. It is the process of pulling insights from those social mentions and customer conversations to identify room for improvement and take action.

If you’re only monitoring, you’re probably missing out on crucial insight about your brand. Incorporate the human side of data into your marketing strategy to grow your company and become an industry leader.

More About Social Listening

Social media generates countless business opportunities—and social listening can help you unravel them. This process allows you to understand what people think about your brand, their problems or needs, how they compare you to the competition, and the similar information.

The main thing to remember is that social listening involves monitoring. It analyses the information gathered and the mood behind the data to help you with many different aspects of your business, including:

  • Boost customer engagement
  • Manage PR crises on social media
  • Track your competitors’ marketing activities
  • Identify influencers and brand ambassadors
  • Improve your social media sales funnel
  • Stay ahead of trends and the competition

Social Listening Glossary

As with other disciplines, social media listening is full of marketing terms and jargon that can become overwhelming, especially for new marketers. 

At 2Stallions, we’re well aware that translating the marketing lingo can be tricky, so we’re here to help decipher the code so you not only understand but can learn the language for yourself. Here are some basics to get you started:

Brand Authority, also known as company reputation, refers to how the audience perceives a brand. Several factors can influence authority, including content, active online presence, and engagement over social media.

Brand Awareness describes how recognisable a business is to its customers. It involves remembering the brand’s name, its expertise in the field, customer service quality, products or services, and so on.

Brand Health takes brand authority and awareness a step further. It is a metric that determines how strong a company is and how true the brand in delivering its promises to customers.

Brand Monitoring is the process of tracking various channels to gain insights about the company, its products, brand mentions, and anything connected to the business.

Click-through rate (CTR) is the ratio of the number of users who click on a specific link or call-to-action. Businesses use this to measure the success of a social media advertising campaign.

Communication Channels refers to the platforms used to engage and reach out to potential and existing customers. It consists of the brand’s official website, blog, and social media profiles (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Consumer Insights are the interpretation of customer data, behaviours, and feedback. They help businesses understand their customers’ expectations, improve customer service, and devise new marketing strategies.

Crisis Monitoring is a series of actions performed to prepare for and prevent damages when a company faces issues.

Dark Social describes the invisible social shares that happen through untraceable or private communication channels, such as messenger, email, and text messages.

Engagement refers to the activities that the audience take on social media to communicate with a brand. Examples of such are likes and favourites, comments, DMs, replies, shares and retweets, clicks, and mentions.

An influencer is a person with a large follower base on social media because of his or her authority and knowledge in a specific industry.

Keywords are the words that describe best what you want to find on social media platforms and the web.

Reach tells how many unique viewers or social media users have seen a piece of content (i.e., blog, video, etc.).

Share of Voice (SOV) is a term borrowed from traditional media, which refers to the number of times a brand is mentioned on the web and social media.

Social Media Mining is the process of extracting data from user-generated content on social media sites and mobile apps. Businesses use this to find patterns and trends that can get them a competitive advantage.

Social Mention refers to name-dropping a person or brand on social media. It can either be positive or negative and can share a public perception of a brand.

Social Selling is a strategy that uses social media platforms to establish rapport with prospective customers.

Social Sentiment describes the emotions behind social media. It is expressed through posts or comments on social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and more.

Why Use Social Media Listening

Creating a solid listening strategy will help your business in many ways. It lets you connect with your audience, foresee and avoid disasters, monitor your competitors, find your tribe, discover new sales leads, and make your brand stand out.

1. Engage Customers

It is a rule of thumb for businesses to listen to what people say on social media channels. Thanks to social listening tools, tracking and gathering online mentions has become a lot easier.

By analysing brand mentions or online discussions, marketers can engage with customers and respond to queries immediately.

For example, a customer mentioned your brand on her social media post to raise an issue about your product. This instance allows you to address the concern. You can either reply directly to the post, share a tweet or FB post that clears out the misunderstanding, or do both.

Think of it as a long-term marketing strategy. If you keep your customers in the loop and interact with them, you encourage them and more people to trust your brand and take action.

2. Manage PR Crises

A positive social sentiment makes customer engagement easy to achieve. So what happens when people put your business in a negative light? Simple. The engagement also goes down.

It is good to be aware of any malicious content, spiteful social media users, and other negative mentions that could undermine your brand. And, social media listening can also help with that.

For example, you can create an alert “notify name@company.com if more than 200 negative posts circulate on social media in any given hour.”

Fake news and negative word-of-mouth can spread like wildfire on social media. With this crisis management solution, you can control potential crises and prevent a PR nightmare from happening.

3. Track Competitors

Monitoring your competitors is never a bad thing. It helps you identify the trends in your industry, check out similar products, and gain better knowledge about customer preferences, among other benefits.

And the best part? You can reveal their weaknesses and create better solutions that cater to the audience’s needs.

Such things are now easy to pull off thanks to social listening. The process lets you collect competitors’ data from social platforms and forums and find trends or useful insights.

Whether you want to know what events your competitions held or are holding, how attendees feel about the event, what type of content appeals to most people, and the like, social media can provide you with an answer.

Get meaningful insights and data out of online conversations and brand mentions. This strategy will never fail in making your name or products more attractive than your rivals.

4. Identify Influencers

Online personalities or content creators in social media, like YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are now influencing consumer’s choices, hence the term influencer marketing.

Because of their engaging content and the trust they built with their following base, online audiences see them as opinion leaders and value their thoughts, product recommendations, and so on.

In fact, most people found influencers more realistic, more authentic, and easier to relate to than celebrities. No wonder more and more businesses partner with influencers to increase brand awareness, boost organic traffic and engagement, and generate sales.

If you’ve not engaged with an influencer before, social media listening can help you get started. This marketing process will help you gain insights into who are the important people to connect with, so you can establish a partnership with your natural brand advocates and look for opportunities to collaborate.  

5. Discover Sales Leads

Social listening also plays a significant role in discovering new sales leads. Once your online mentions are gathered and filtered, you can find the right audience and reach out to them.

Decoding your brand mentions allows you to join discussions as they happen, address the online public’s concerns, provide timely solutions, and most importantly—develop relationships with potential customers.

As the old business saying goes, “People do not like to be sold, but love to buy.” Customers hate being sold to right away. They want to feel in control of their purchasing decisions rather than having someone else tell them what to do.

This is where social media mining comes in handy. Such a process makes social media listening more effective as it helps uncover hidden patterns and trends from social media platforms.

When you understand people’s sentiments, you can nurture customer relationships and create an effective social selling strategy.

6. Improve Brand Image

As discussed, social listening does not focus alone on metrics or data analytics. Instead, it deciphers the sentiment behind every bit of data.

The fact that social media listening is two-fold means that it can help in establishing a powerful brand identity.

It provides an unbiased evaluation of audience preferences and needs, which can help in the following:

  • drive customer engagement;
  • develop lasting relationships;
  • learning trends for improvement;
  • managing online brand reputation;
  • optimising communication activities;
  • establishing a position in the industry

How to Get Started with Social Media Listening

Now that you know how following and interpreting social media conversation help your business thrive, let us look at the steps to creating a winning social listening strategy.

1. Define Your Goals

The first step in the process is to define your goals. Be clear on what you want to get out of social media listening.

Setting a goal will help plan all of your efforts going forward. It jumpstarts the whole strategy as it lets you choose the topics, brand terms, interactions, and keywords to monitor on social media platforms.

Here are a few goals that you could build your strategy around:

  • Drive website traffic
  • Manage your brand reputation
  • Understand your consumers better
  • Increase engagement with your audience
  • Create relevant content for your target audience
  • Gain more followers and retain your existing customers

2. Determine Channels to Monitor

Once you have your goals set, determine what social media channels you like to monitor. This next step informs you whether your goals are achievable on the platforms that your audience use.

For example, your goal is to drive more website traffic. Facebook and Twitter are the best platforms for this because they allow users to post links, unlike Instagram.

It helps to audit first each social media app or site. Know where most of your audience hang out and where they interact with your brand. In this way, you can keep a laser focus on social listening initiatives.

3. Choose The Right Tools

It is crucial to pick a social media listening tool that will enable you to discover your social media mentions, regardless of your company size or level of competition.       

Below are some factors to consider when choosing a social listening tool:  

  • Business needs. Check whether the tool meets your business needs—be it PR and marketing, customer service, security and compliance, customer research.
  • Pricing models. While “free” is a popular price point, free-trial tools provide limited functionality. It is better to opt for fee-based offerings that can best accommodate your needs.
  • User management. How many people will use the tool? Can people use the platform simultaneously? These are a few user-related questions that you should keep in mind before sealing a deal with a social listening tool vendor.
  • Software/ Tool features. Look at the tool’s features and compatibility. Does it have a single dashboard? Can it analyse a whole range of metrics, such as trending themes, media exposure, social sentiment, and share of voice? Questions like these can help you decide on selecting the right social listening software for your business.
  • Flexibility. A platform that allows integration with existing tools (i.e., Google Analytics, Hootsuite, etc.) is a must-have. It enables you to incorporate social media listening seamlessly into your business strategy and allows you to share reports with everyone.

4. Create Action Plans

The last step to creating a social media listening strategy is taking action. Use the insights you gathered in mapping out a series of activities that can help you achieve your goals.

For example, your primary aim is to improve your brand image. There are two things that you must do. First, make sure to respond to complaints and questions quickly. Second, take time to acknowledge and reply to positive mentions.

Bonus: The Best Tools for Social Listening

Keeping tabs across social media channels requires a great deal of time and effort. Thankfully, several tools can make social media monitoring more manageable.

Here is a list of social listening tools that you can use as reference:

  1. Awario
  2. BrandWatch
  3. BuzzSumo
  4. Falcon.io
  5. Hootsuite
  6. Keyhole
  7. Mention
  8. Oktopost
  9. Sprout Social
  10. Tailwind

The Takeaway

As more people turn to social media for product information and business research, the need for monitoring your social media channels increases.

It is indeed impossible to read the minds of your followers or customers. Thanks to social listening, you can now understand the mood behind their social activities. This process gives you access to what people are saying about your brand, industry, or even your competitors.

So, if you have not tried incorporating social media listening into your business strategy, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.

2Stallions can help you get started, establish a better relationship with your target audience, and never miss a relevant conversation about your brand. Contact us today to learn more.

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