Say that again? Why social listening matters

On December 7, 2017

As Oscar Wilde famously put it: "There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

There's something else we think is worse: being talked about, and not paying attention to what's being said. This marketing mistake is what happens when you don't engage in social listening.

Find out what your customers really think

So what is social listening? The definition is there in the name. You listen to what people are saying about your brand, your industry and your competitors – and you do this by monitoring social media channels.

Social listening is like an online, network-based focus group.

Think of it as an online, network-based focus group, says market researchers Upfront Analytics – except the key difference is that the members of this focus group don't think of themselves as such, which means they're happy to speak freely in a way that they might not under more formal circumstances.

As social media management platform Hootsuite explains, social listening is different from social media monitoring, which is something you may well already be doing. While social monitoring means looking at data – how many shares, which people are commenting – social listening is more about mood. It goes beyond the metrics of how many people are talking about your brand, and focuses instead on what they're actually saying.

For example, metrics can tell you which of your posts or campaigns is getting the most engagement. But is that engagement positive or negative? A customer commenting on a post to praise your brand is very different to them commenting to complain, or ask a question because they need help. If you limit your monitoring to numbers, all those comments look the same. But to the social listener, they each mean something different, and each needs a unique reaction.

Social listening isn't passive - it involves taking in and giving back.
Knowing how people talk about your brand lets you decide how you should talk about yourself.

Don't just listen – talk back

Social Media Examiner describes social listening as half awareness, and half response. It's not enough to just follow the conversation – you have to join in. Having a social media presence and taking part in the conversation shows your customers that you care what they think. It lets you constructively address negative feedback, and build on already positive relationships.

The understanding you gain from social listening doesn't just help your immediate responses on social media. These insights are valuable when it comes time to design marketing and mail campaigns, whether they're for current or potential customers. Knowing what people think and say about you lets you plan strategies to improve your brand's appeal.

For more advice on how to make your next marketing campaign engaging and relevant, get in touch with us here at The Prospect Shop.

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