Gone are the days of marketers sitting around in a room deciding what they want to say, what products they want to feature or what they want to sell. This type of old school marketing just doesn’t cut it any more. For brands to truly resonate, it’s time to stop talking and start listening.
There’s a pressing need for businesses to get closer to their customers right now. While many brands know they need to make changes, they might not know where to start. This is where data comes in. It’s every brand’s north star in guiding business decisions. The more targeted the data, the less time wasted on creating content that simply won’t resonate. Think of all the resources that can be saved with this approach!
This is where social listening can come in. Social listening is how marketers understand, resonate, and connect with their audience. We’ve spoken before about how recent content shifts on social make tools like social listening a crucial part of your digital marketing strategy. Without it, you’re at risk of being deaf to what’s happening with your customers.
Here are the key ways social listening can make your marketing more effective:
Context is King
We’ve heard it before: content is king. But what about the context you need to be relevant and heard through the noise? Remember, social media is a volatile space if you don’t know how to filter through the noise, and right now there’s a lot of it.
With everyone wanting to weigh in on current events, there’s a lot to compete with. If you’ve had a hard time combing through industry specific discussions on social media in the past, think of all the challenges that come with the universality of this pandemic. Everyone has something to say. This is where context marketing becomes critical:
So how can brands listen before they speak? Enter social listening: the tool that does the heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on creating high quality, on-trend content that’s constantly dialed in to your audience. During this period, we’re seeing how brands are using social listening to really understand, serve and connect with their audiences.
So we now know why social listening gives you the context you need to reach audiences: but what does that look like in practice? As a reminder, here’s exactly how social listening augments your brand’s presence on social:
- Understand if you’re reaching the right audiences for your brand
- Monitor and forecast trends and themes
- Stay ahead by engaging with trending content
- Stay aware of overall brand health
Let’s take a closer look at each of these…
Know Your Audience
You may already have a target demographic in mind when it comes to who you want to reach on social media. You might even have some engagement metrics that show how you’re reaching that audience already. But without social listening, you’re not seeing the complete picture.
You need to know your audiences inside out. Without targeted insights that reveal exactly what your customers are thinking, feeling and saying at any given moment, you’re not just jeopardizing your content strategy, but also missing valuable opportunities to strengthen your SEO, paid media, and influencer marketing.
That’s where social listening comes in. With this tool, you can determine:
- Key demographics based on proprietary searches. Social listening tools have databases that can filter through millions of targeted results for social. Think: can a simple internet search do that?
- What your audience is talking about, how often and in what context. Social listening tools give brands the ability to add multiple keywords, hashtags and profiles to dashboards for a holistic view of just about everything audiences are talking about.
- The top influencers in your chosen queries and topics. Your brand gets a firsthand insight into who’s dominating the conversations that matter most to you, so that you can engage with them accordingly.
- The exact keywords they need to target for SEO purposes
- Demographics on their current and ideal audience to inform paid media targeting
All this information impacts multiple verticals within your marketing strategy in a big way:
- Paid targeting: keywords, audiences, as well as what content to promote
- Influencer selection as well as what topics we want to guide them on
- Organic social: what conversations to highlight and what your channel topic mix should be
- Content marketing: highlight trending topics and focus on them heavily, looking for the intersection between your business value proposition and your audiences’ needs.
Monitor Trends: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Whether it’s positive, negative or neutral: brands need to know everything that’s being said, not just about your company, but about industry topics, too. Let’s say your brand is interested in artificial intelligence. Within that topic, you can identify key subtopics such as:
- Internet of Things
- Machine Learning
- Autonomous Vehicles
In whatever regions or countries and languages you’re looking to target.
Then, within those topics, you can include relevant keywords and hashtags. Let’s take ‘Machine Learning’, for example:
- Keywords: machine learning, deep learning, neural networks
- Hashtags: #machinelearning, #deeplearning #neuralnetworks
This gives your social listening tool the power to detect and analyze every conversation happening around the specific topics, subtopics and keywords that are important to your brand. This is in addition to the information you’re pulling from direct mentions about your brand on social: giving you a true picture of social trends and attitudes towards them.
Think Connection, Not Content
Whether it’s in real life or online, one-way conversations don’t get you very far. With social listening, brands can access valuable insights on general sentiments towards how customers feel about interactions with their company. Awareness of those sentiments is key to creating engagement and communication strategies to respond to them. In industries where positive and negative brand sentiment can be as close as a few points, it pays to have a social listening tool to give you the exact numbers.
Take Starbucks, for instance, with an audience made up of 30% brand lovers, 23% brand haters, and the remainder fallingsomewhere along this spectrum. With such a close breakdown of people who do and don’t like their brand, keeping a close eye on social media sentiment is key for the business. Why? Because it’s easy for those numbers to shift in light of a tone-deaf marketing strategy. We’ve seen it in action, too. Starbucks is no stranger to widespread social media backlash. This is where social listening becomes critical: giving brands the ability to monitor and redeem negative sentiments in real time.
But what can’t you track?
For starters, all those indirect interactions that monitoring alone can’t alert you on. Not everyone will ‘@mention’ your brand. In fact, 31% of company mentions on Twitter don’t tag brand handles. With a social listening tool, brands have the power to monitor everything: tagged or not.
The same goes for hashtags and keywords related to your brand or niche. Highly-customized dashboards within social listening tools give brands the exact data they need without having to spend time and effort finding them manually.
With all this data, your brand can leverage real-time insights to keep your marketing strategy on trend. Currently, as customers navigate this new normal, those strategies might not look like what you’re used to. That means more of a focus on experience and empathy, and less on sales.
The brands truly dialed in to their audiences are those that will emerge from this period stronger.
How’s Your Brand Holding Up?
Authenticity is a much-needed feature of every social media marketing strategy right now. With social listening, brands have the ability to respond to everything on their audience’s minds in real time, and with the intention of creating meaningful connections as a result. Unsure of which tool is right for you, or looking for some help in implementing social listening into your strategy? Don’t forget that we’re always here to help brands resonate with their audiences on a deeper level!