“Listen more than you talk.” It may be a cliche, but it’s good advice, both in interpersonal relationships and in social media marketing.
Most marketers recognize (or they should!) that it’s important to monitor or “listen” for mentions of their brand on social media.
According to new research from Clutch, the majority of businesses use listening for access to customer feedback. With today’s younger consumers increasingly turning first to social media with complaints, the importance of listening and providing customer service via social media can’t be overstated — especially given how quickly a problem can go viral.
But effective social media listening has more to offer than crisis management and customer service. Businesses that take their listening to the next level have an even greater advantage over those that primarily broadcast on social media.
Paige Leidig, CMO of the social media analytics platform NetBase, explains some of the ways companies are supercharging their social media listening and why.
Gain a Deeper Understanding of Customers
Businesses need to understand both their customers’ and competitor’s customers’ needs in order to improve business offerings.
“Companies need to go beyond basic brand monitoring to get the entire dimensional social story of their consumers and their competitors’ customers,” says Leidig.
Understanding a customer’s entire social story can help companies “better understand who is and isn’t in their target audience and what else those people like,” according to Leidig. With this deeper understanding comes an opportunity to add genuine value to customers or prospective customers.
By listening for mentions of products, industry keywords, and competitors, companies have opportunities to fill in the gaps and differentiate themselves. Monitoring for competitor mentions could reveal an opportunity to help a customer whose question has been ignored, as Brand24 did in the example below.
Monitoring for industry-related questions on forums like Reddit and Quora may reveal people looking for information that your company can provide — and an opportunity to share relevant content on a new channel.
Understand the Impact of Earned Media
Social media is actually composed of three channels — owned, earned and partnered (or sponsored).
Owned channels are a company’s branded channels, managed by the company itself. Partnered involves a brand working with a paid spokesperson or influencer. And earned consists of what is being said about the brand, separate from what the brand, and any partners are saying.
Leidig says this last channel is the most important, yet many companies primarily focus on owned channels only. While it is important to publish content and track resulting engagement, overlooking earned media is a mistake.
Leidig argues that conversations around industry terms and topics that include the company are “much more valuable.” Social listening he says, “can help us identify who those people are so that, as a brand, we can engage with them, expand their footprint, and expand the conversation around relevant topics.”
Without a social media listening tool, brands cannot effectively gain a complete understanding of their impact on these important earned channels.
Discover Product Ideas
The improved understanding of audience and industry that often results from social media listening isn’t just valuable from a marketing perspective. These insights can also drive product development or reveal a niche market.
Leidig shares that top brands like Coca-Cola and Taco Bell have recently used social media listening to research audience interest in new products and campaigns. Taco Bell’s breakfast menu launch and Coca-Cola’s introduction of cans with people’s names were both influenced by insights and feedback gained on social media.
While listening for customer questions and complaints will remain most companies’ top priority, marketers that neglect to listen for competitors and industry trends are missing out.
Clutch’s data and Leidig’s commentary provides new insights and opportunities to increase the impact of earned channels, helping businesses engage customers, influencers and prospects in new ways.
About the Author
Sarah Patrick is content marketing lead at Clutch, a B2B research firm in the heart of Washington, DC. She’s the lead research analyst on digital marketing topics and manages Clutch’s guest writers’ program. Connect with Sarah on LinkedIn or Twitter.