Social Listening: Everything you need to know

Social media interactions can become overwhelming for even the most experienced departments. With the sheer number of comments, messages, and general engagements, collecting and analyzing useful information can be slow and tedious. Enter the world of social listening.

First of all, what is social listening? Social listening is the ability to collect and process any given information from social media platforms. By doing so, specific tasks can be prioritized to better improve business efficiency. Applicable to a wide range of industries, proper social listening can easily be adopted to find out exactly what your customers are looking for.

With the quarantine and social distancing in place, traditional forms of transactions are becoming less and less frequent. Thus, businesses that have shifted their focus from their brick and mortar stores to digital platforms are seeing more success. While it is expected that everything will go back to normal after a matter of time, we see this particular situation as a brilliant opportunity for any business to go digital. Why? Because e-commerce has seen a steady increase of value over the last few years and has been pushed further due to COVID-19. Alongside the fact that we are currently in a digital age, businesses that have not adapted run the risk of losing out to key competitors that have already implemented digital marketing campaigns. Especially during a time like this, online advertisements are very effective when it comes to reaching out to potential customers. Overall, e-commerce has been identified as a great investment opportunity to allow your business to grow to significant lengths.

Once you’ve adopted an online platform and have already put out digital campaigns, it’s time to find out how effective it has been. This is where social listening comes in.

Social listening isn’t anything brand new. Businesses have been using it for years to gauge their customer’s experience and interests to better understand what they want and how they can optimize their marketing campaigns. How social listening has evolved isn’t through any ground-breaking hacks or tricks but through the innovation of social listening tools and its wide-spread availability. With the way social media has become a part of everyday life for the average consumer, literally millions of people around the world are posting about anything and everything. The only thing businesses have to do now is to find them.

Secondly, it’s important to not confuse social listening to its cousins: social media analytics and social media intelligence. While the three do have significant similarities, they also have their defining differences.

Social media analytics is concerned with analyzing the already existing data and breaking it down to bite-sized pieces for insight gathering. Its key-difference can be found in the fact that it only focuses on the processing and categorizing of data. However, both processes usually rely on the same tools.

Social media intelligence – often considered being the next step after social media analytics – is the process of gathering insights from the processed data. By analyzing the data, marketing teams can improve their campaigns based on trends and customer comments. At the end of the day, social media intelligence is meant to make business decisions easier and more effective.

With the nature of social media, people are publicly posting and commenting on just about anything. The next question is: who can benefit from social listening? Open for use by anyone, social listening most benefits the following:

B2C

For business-to-consumer companies, social listening is a success-defining tool waiting to be used. It is an amazing way to find out exactly what your customers think of your brand and its products. Whether your brand is being viewed in a positive light or not, social listening can find out the exact points that can be improved upon without having to directly engage customers. Social listening can also help create and improve your business strategies, optimizing the use of your own resources. Whether it’s updating your product line or starting a completely new one, you can easily gather the wants and needs of your customers.

B2B

For a business-to-business company, social listening can also help point out the leaders in your industry when it comes to social media engagements. Being able to find out your customers’ perceptions of the industry leaders, new industry developments, and how your competitors engage their customers can all prove to be vital information when attempting to improve one’s market share and influence on the industry. Even though B2Bs focus on partnerships on a company level, these deals still involve people; CEOs and high-level officers own social media accounts and the demographics and interests are data waiting to be collected.

Influencers

Social listening can also be an integral tool when it comes to optimizing an influencer’s brand and content. By being able to take a look at online posts and conversations, an influencer can then refocus their attention on which content works and how they can extend their reach to their target audience. By making informed decisions regarding their brand and content, influencers can continue to grow their follower base by creating in-demand content.

NPO/NGO

Whether it involves helping the less fortunate, animal sanctuaries, or education, non-profit and non-government organizations can benefit from the use of social listening. Having the ability to see what topics are becoming more relevant can give great insight into what your future plans can be. The usual brand management concerns can also be addressed using social listening. When it comes to campaigns, you can use social listening to see how effective it has been, how many people have been reached, and how well it has been received. Charity and donation drives can also be created based on the needs and wants of the people; information that can be found using social listening tools.

How do I implement Social Listening?

The first thing you need to identify is what exactly you want to analyze. With how vast the online space is, it’s crucial to zoom in to what is important to you and your company. By cutting down on all the possible targets, you’ll know exactly what can be done to improve your performance. While others may see social listening as a continuous strategy or as a one-time solution, it’s clear that it is a flexible tool that can help achieve your goals.

Once these goals have been identified, the next step is to determine which data you’ll be needing. Teams and departments such as customer service, digital marketing, and business development will know exactly what the key details are; such as common talking points, specific metrics, and branding tones. Creating a categorized database will tidy up the data collection and make the analysis run more smoothly.

Determining the timespan and range of data collection is also important. When running campaigns, there will always be peak times of effectiveness. For example, you could be a kids’ toy store preparing a promo for the upcoming Christmas holiday in hopes to further boost sales. In this context, you would want to collect data during the few months leading up to the holiday to monitor how your customers are reacting to your advertisements. Also, would you want to collect data from all social media platforms or just one? If your business mainly advertises on Facebook, maybe it would be worthwhile to remove other platforms such as Twitter and Instagram from your scope. Refining your data search process can produce higher quality insights that will better benefit your cause.

So you’ve collected the data, now what? Most people would say the next step is to analyze but it’s actually best to further clean your data first. Why? This is due to how messy data collection can be. For example, your company is Fully Booked – the Philippine bookstore – and you want to know what your customers think of your brand. So you go online and collect every Facebook and Twitter post that includes the words “fully booked”. However, now you have posts that don’t involve your store because they were actually talking about how they couldn’t get their hotel accommodations sorted out because it was fully booked. Getting rid of irrelevant data such as this will yield you far better results when it comes to analysis.