Social media platforms allow a brand’s audience to have a two-way conversation with them, whilst enabling a brand to create a distinct voice.
If your brand isn’t using social media yet, it probably should be! It may be that not all platforms are right for your brand, but some probably will be. If you are already utilising social media to increase brand awareness and improve audience perception- good for you! Now let’s take it a step further and implement a social media listening strategy.
What is social media listening?
Social media listening is the process of finding and evaluating what is being said about your brand across these platforms, and then actioning any insights that were gained, in order to achieve a goal or improve a process.
It’s a two-part process:
- You must monitor and analyse what is being talked about
- You should then act upon any useful insights
It may be that you only look for what is being said directly about your brand or company, but social media listening can be taken a step further by looking for topics that seem to be commonly spoken about among your target audience and competitors.
Once you’ve gathered these facts you can gain insights and action opportunities.
Let me explain…
Let’s say you run an independent restaurant in a town.
You notice that Tuesdays often have many more bookings than the other non-weekend days. You begin to add an extra member of staff to the rota on Tuesday evenings, as well as buying in a little extra produce to ensure you have enough to get you through the week.
Now that’s done, and everyone’s happy. But you still don’t know why Tuesdays are busier than the other weeknights.
You begin to ask the customers where they’ve been prior to coming to your restaurant this evening, and many tell you they’ve just been to the cinema. After a little further investigation, you find that the cinema a few streets over is offering 50% off all cinema tickets on Tuesdays. It’s bringing people out and some are then making a night of it by finishing their evening off with some dinner at your restaurant.
So why not take advantage of this? Perhaps offer a reduction on meals for anyone who shows their cinema ticket upon payment? You could even take this a step further and ask the cinema to advertise your new discount.
This is social listening; you’ve spotted a trend and acted upon it.
What can you do with social media listening?
1. Increase engagement and following
Customers like it when brands respond and engage with them, it makes them feel valued as a customer. Try and craft responses that give value in order to encourage brand loyalty and increase repeat custom.
Ultimately, a B2C relationship is like a friendship. The more you have in common, the more likely it is to last.
2. Keep track of your brand’s growth.
Social media listening is not only helpful in increasing positive engagements, it can be useful when something not so great happens in your business too.
You can keep track of your followers. Get to know your audience and create a profile that reflects the majority of your audience to ensure you’re giving them content they are interested in and will engage with.
If there has been an incident within your company this always runs the risk of increasing negative responses and opinions on social media. By implementing social media listening you can see if this has had a negative impact on your metrics e.g. a decrease in followers/ an increase in comments with negative sentiment. This may help you decide whether there will be lasting effects if actions are not taken, or if you can just wait for it all to blow over.
3. Discover new opportunities
Stay ahead of the game and see what customers of yours, and other brands in the same industry, are saying. If they all have a similar issue, or there is a certain recurring problem, why not see if this applies to your customer base and fix the issue, before it even becomes one.
If your customers or target audience are suggesting an issue with either your service or the service of other companies, it’s probably worth looking into.
Find pain points within your brand, or your industry. You can tackle these before they begin to affect the overall sentiment of your brand. On the flip side of this, you can find positives and shine a light on them.
Complete the same level of social media listening that you do with your own brand, on your competitors’. Use the insights you gain to find areas where you can improve.
You may discover most competitors have one thing in common. Or that they all offer a similar service. Why not use this to your advantage and make yourself stand out from the crowd? Do something different in the knowledge that no one else is. This falls under tactical differentiation.
4. Increase customer acquisition.
Is there something your customers need or want? Or a new product that others are offering which you aren’t yet? Are they all talking about the same thing? You should too.
Remember the restaurant story I mentioned before? This isn’t just about keeping current customers happy (although that is also pretty important), it’s about making your deal even more attractive to an audience you know is already in the area.
Create relevant offers and content, matching your customer’s taste with your brand, in order to increase your conversion rate.
5. Get Influencer recognition
Find key people within your audience, who have strong followings from your target audience. Engage with these people and build relationships. This doesn’t need to be a paid relationship: if your content is relevant and worthy, they’ll most likely share it.
How is it implemented?
The sad truth is that social media listening just isn’t used as much as it should be. It does take time, and it often feels like there are other, more pressing, jobs to complete. But it’s important to make time for Social Media Listening. Put it this way: most successful brands do.
Netflix is one company that carries out social media listening extremely well. They know the ins and outs of their target audience, and they effectively use this information to tell their audience exactly what they want to hear. In this case, Netflix’s audience are big fans of self-irony and sarcasm.
“when we aren’t posting, we’re listening, looking for the new trends igniting the entertainment works”.
Through their social listening, Netflix discovered an “issue” with their service. Many people were falling asleep whilst binge-watching their shows, and then waking up to find a screen full of spoilers and confusion. Not a serious problem, we know. But it is one that could be leveraged to create even more buzz around the company.
And so, Netflix socks were born. These are socks that detect when a viewer is nodding off and send a signal to the user’s TV and pause the show. The product went viral.
Another brand that implements social media listening is Paddy Power. They have said that:
“20-30% of our activity is planned with the remainder being tactical… a lot of our engagement comes from Tweets reacting to breaking news”.
In other words, Paddy Power often looks at what their audience is engaging with on social media, as well as how they are engaging with it. They know their target audience inside and out, but it is still good to check that their tweet is in line with both Paddy Power’s brand values and the opinion of their target audience.
This kind of reactive tweeting means that they are always in the conversation, no matter what it may be.
Paddy Power does, however, also admit that they have a slight advantage:
“We’re quite lucky as a brand in that we can talk about anything from Boris Johnson being elected PM to Liverpool’s latest signing because we take bets on a lot of different things.”
This gives them an easier task when it comes to finding relevant conversations.
So you’ve implemented social listening on your own channels… what now?
Act on them! Give your audience what they want. Answer FAQs that have come to light through your search, find issues and solve them, find successes and shout about them, and find key people in your community and engage with them.
What about after you’ve completed social listening on your competitor’s channels?
This is never time wasted- its always a good think to get a sense of your share of the social media audience. I would not suggest stealing their customers, however winning them is a different matter. See what they’re not doing so well and show people how you’re doing it better.
Don’t forget to get down to the nitty gritty too: see which posts of theirs are performing well, and question why this may be. Then try and create some of your own content which is equally, if not more, successful.
And finally, what about after you’ve looked at your industry as a whole?
Make sure you know exactly what’s going on here. Keep track of anything that could slightly affect you and be sure to track key political and social issues that may affect your brand’s positioning.
You don’t always need to comment on these things, but you do always need to be aware of them. If the topics are relevant, and in line with your brands voice, then this may be the right option for you.
Want to get back on track with your social media campaigns?