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11 Powerful Social Listening Strategies to Grow Your Business in 2019 and Beyond

Social listening can help businesses grow exponentially online, but it’s important to stay organized. Scattershot or inconsistent efforts offer disappointing results. These 11 social listening strategies will help you focus where it counts, and generate the most bang for your online buck.

Strategy #1: Make Social Listening a Daily Practice

Beginning each day with social listening will provide a better wakeup than that cup of coffee, as you’ll never know what to expect and it will rarely be boring.

Have set criteria ready to explore though, so you don’t fall down a hole and lose two hours of your day chasing a white rabbit spouting gibberish. If your root your focus in the tool, venturing out just to verify leads and capture additional insight, you’ll stay on track.

What should you explore each day? Start with this list and you can get more specific from there as you sort out which pieces work best for your focus:

  • What are the trending topics in my category?
  • Trending topics about my brand?
  • Who are the top authors – and what are they saying?
  • How do the trending hashtags about my brand/in my category look? Any surprises? Spend time investigating here.

And, of course, the rest of this strategies list!

Strategy #2: Listen to Competitor Chatter Daily Too

Designating time to specifically check in on competitor chatter is wise. Yes, competitor issues and ideas will reveal themselves as you listen for your own brand, but there will be some insight that’s specific to Brand X that you’ll miss. And you’ll definitely want to see those conversations too.

How else will you know when they’re testing an idea that feels similar to yours? Or when they’re receiving feedback that will help you fine tune your offering to capture their audience? OR when they make a stunningly amazing and industry-shaping apology that may cause you to rethink/reupp your game:

Apple music capturing strategic growth by offering to pay music artists

Apple tweeting to Taylor Swift and Indie artists demonstrating its powerful social listening capabilities

Granted, you’ll hear about major events over the virtual water cooler, but being alerted to them as they happen and planning your own actions immediately has definite advantages.

Strategy #3: Use Social Listening to Create Unmet Needs List

Why are you listening? You want to see if your campaigns are resonating, of course, but you also need to constantly ideate, even from from a marketing standpoint. Ideation is not just the domain of your service/product innovation people – and if it is, it shouldn’t be!

The team that interacts with your client base knows its needs best, and outside of that, your social listening tool should be offering intel to investigate.

Questions to ask to inform this list include:

  • What expected topics are trending – and in what unexpected ways are they being mentioned?
  • Are there unexpected topics trending too? Sort out why.
  • What are the recurring requests and/or concerns and where are they happening – on what channels?
  • Have we explored how our audience looks/interacts on these platforms?

When something happens repeatedly or grows in frequency or intensity, you’ll know it’s time to act. And you’ll have lots of intel to support your brilliant idea!

Strategy #4: Set Category/Topic/Brand Social Listening Alerts

Alerts are an amazing resource. With NetBase, you can set alerts for Any Metric, Any Mention or Triggered Alerts. The first two are fairly self-explanatory: Any Metric sends a notification whenever mentions, Net Sentiment score, or other selected metric changes by a degree that you specify. Any Mention sends an alert whenever NetBase indexes a post that matches a saved analysis.

Triggered Alerts take results beyond the first two and are pretty neat. They notify you when there’s an unusual change in volume. This allows you to set options more granularly than Any Metric alerts.

Triggered alerts - a social listening strategy to notify you when there’s an unusual change in volume 

You’ll want to set lots of relevant alerts to inform your daily explorations.

Strategy #5: Forget What You Think You Know About Brand Perception

Leave what you think you know about your brand’s perception at the door. It’s important to understand that what you think and what your audience thinks are often very different things. And their opinion is much more important than yours.

Want to know how they feel about your new widget? Monitor the sentiment around it and pay close attention to both the good and bad that’s being said about it. It’s always good to catch an issue with a product or service before it turns into bigger problem.

Strategy #6: Change What You Can & Embrace The Rest

Speaking of problems – every business has them. But hopefully, once you embrace daily social listening practices, “being caught unaware” won’t be one of them!

Social listening is key to maintaining brand health and social monitoring allows businesses to:

  • Monitor brand perception across all customer feedback channels in real-time
  • Gain visibility into the conversations and context that shape consumer opinion
  • Track brand sentiment and conversation volume over time to see if things are getting better or worse

Understanding and dealing with what you can will go a long way. And so will learning to own and accept brand challenges revealed by social listening. As Lulu Skinner, the senior marketing manager EMEA at Airbnb, said: “Conflict isn’t just part of our ad strategy, it’s a fundamental part of our brand positioning, how we think about ourselves and our relationship with the world.”

Strategy #7: Use Social Listening to Monitor Niche Conversations Wherever They Happen

Niche conversations matter – a lot. They’re the conversations your very targeted (and potentially – very loyal) audiences are having about your business. Knowing who they are – and where they are is extremely helpful.

Capturing insight from forums, news and review sites is super helpful here – particularly Reddit. it’s where lots of influential online folks anonymously congregate to gripe or share accolades around experiences.

For example, food industry folks would be interested in knowing this is coming for them, no doubt. Let’s hope they have some social listening alerts set up to do so:

Food industry post revealed on Reddit using social listening strategies

Strategy #8: Get Specific With Social Listening-powered Benchmarks

It’s tempting to generalize and capture all the best intel around your brand to share with your C suite folks. But that won’t tell you what you need to know to move forward meaningfully and you’ll eventually have little to show for your social listening efforts.

We have dashboard templates that make capturing benchmarking data a breeze. They can help you understand normal monthly metric values for your brand, competitor, category, or a subset thereof. And you can use these insights to:

  • Identify a focused business objective to find situations where you need to intervene by escalating internally or responding and engaging.
  • Create processes to detect decreases/increases in sentiment to evaluate brand health by identifying a baseline sentiment number for benchmarking.
  • Help you determine threshold volumes for Any Metric alerts, as well as provide context for reporting.

Social listening dashboards that help you understand normal monthly metric values for your brand, competitor, category, or a subset thereof

Strategy #9: Integrate CRM Data to See The Big Social Listening Picture

Big data requires big effort – mostly around the analysis of all structured and unstructed data sets available. Social listening offers amazing insight, and combined with CRM data – a business could be unstoppable.

Picture it: Next Generation AI analytics working its magic not only on social sentiment but combining it with intel captured during your account manager’s client calls, as well as that of customer service representatives?

The larger picture provided there would be an incredible bit of insight for any business. The ability to create a single, unified view of your customer voice cannot be oversold here.

And then imagine using it all to create those benchmarks mentioned earlier! So you could see if there’s an uptick in questions about your new product, or even in passing during a client contacting your sales team about something else entirely. You wouldn’t have to wait/rely on someone to mention it during a staff meeting – it would all be readily available in your tool in real-time, to be alerted to – and take advantage of – opportunities as they happened.

And you can integrate customer experience data into third party reporting tools and management systems to provide a unified solution for enterprise analytics and reporting using NetBase APIs right out of the box. Pretty neat.

Strategy #10: Closely Monitor Existing Influencers with Social Listening

Your influencers are probably amazing right now, but that could change at any time. It’s important to have criteria in place to monitor their activity and engagement levels and ensure they’re still what’s best for your brand.

Capturing all of their channel and domain data makes this a snap to do. You can see how they’re performing on each channel, and how they’re doing in comparison to each other:

Using socal listening to analyze how influencers performing on each channel, and how they’re doing in comparison to each other

Strategy #11: Identify New Influencers Regularly

Even if everything is sunshine and lollipops with your regular band of influencers, having a  few likely suspects in your back pocket is always wise. Keep track of top authors in your category and vet one or two each week to add to your “potential influencers” list in case an unexpected crisis hits and you need to cut an influencer loose, or just require some additional online juice in  your corner.

As you already have a list of similar bloggers or sites you’re looking for, you can create a topic based on blogger names, Twitter handles, domains, etc. to uncover who else is interacting with or linking to this content.

Or you can create a topic based on key terms your influencer would potentially post about. It’s not difficult to do, as the intel is readily available in your dashboard, but you do need to look at it and spend a few minutes exploring a person of interest.

When it comes time to potentially collaborate, you’ll want to vet him/her further, of course. Fortunately, we can help you there too, with the ability to search back 27 months and find all the potential trouble spots that an influencer may not offer up on his/her resume!

Making It All Work for You

What it all comes down to though, of course, is trusting the accuracy of the insight derived from your tool.  Having the ability to drill down and explore what is behind the insight provided, the actual posts informing the sentiment, is mission critical. Reach out for a demo and we’ll show you why that is, and how you can get your own growth strategies germinating today!

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