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What is Social Listening and Why Does it Matter?

What do your customers really think about your brand? What do they think about your competitors–about those you look to for inspiration? Social listening – a key component of audience research and a true asset to any social media marketing plan – enables you to follow, analyze, and reply to conversations about your brand and industry online.

Social listening is a large part of every social strategy we build for our clients. Contact us if you are looking for someone to do the social media heavy-lifting (or heavy-listening, get it?) for you.

What is Social Listening?

There are two steps to the listening process.

Step 1: Monitor all social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, product, and any keywords relevant to your business or industry.

Step 2: Analyze that information and brainstorm ways to put the things that you learn into action. Putting things into action might mean something as small as replying to a very satisfied, appreciative customer. On the other hand, it may also imply something as large as rethinking your overall brand positioning.

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring

It’s the second step in social media listening–the “put things into action”–that separates this process from a close relative known as “social monitoring.” Social media monitoring focuses solely on data collection. It allows you to look back at what has already happened and learn from it.

For example, you can use the data you gather through social media monitoring to monitor ROI or test one strategy against another. In addition, this collected data will help prove the value of your social efforts when it comes time to pitch services, create monthly social reports, or set the yearly budget.

Metrics like engagement rate and number of mentions are tracked using social monitoring processes. The listening process, however, looks beyond the numbers to get a deeper understanding of the mood behind those social media posts. Why? To help you understand how users actually feel about you, your competitors, and your industry as a whole–rather than simply counting likes, followers, or the number of times your name appears in a Google search.

Social Media Sentiment

Social media sentiment is the phrase for describing the “mood” behind social posts. Being aware of your company’s social media sentiment is a fundamental part of social media listening. Knowing how people generally feel about your brand helps you shape and reshape your marketing and product development efforts as needed.

Listening closely to your customers also allows you to respond immediately to positive or negative posts. This can be a huge way to improve your brand’s overall sentiment.

Why is Social Listening so important?

Social media listening looks forward instead of backward. If you remember nothing else from this blog, remember that. It’s all about interpreting the information you collect and using it to guide your overall social media strategy and day-to-day actions and engagements.

Without the consistent implementation of listening techniques, your social media marketing strategy is missing something vital. Think about it. Real consumers are talking about you, your competitors, and your industry online. Why wouldn’t you want to know what they’re saying? And can you really create a social media strategy you believe in without listening first?

To conclude, social listening matters because your customers matter. If you care about your audience, you also care about insights that can be tapped through the listening process.

 

Interested in taking your current social media marketing strategy a step further? We want to help you implement the social tactics listed above. Work with us.

 

– Written by Lily Tillman

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