Social media listening.

It’s a term you probably hear often, but you might not know exactly what it means… or how it differs from social media monitoring. And that’s okay. Social media listening is a relatively new phenomenon in the social media marketing world—but at the same time, it’s a vital one you cannot ignore in 2019.

So, let’s start with a simple definition of social media listening: in short, social media listening tells you what your customer wants in a product, service, or other offering and why they want it. But how does social media listening do that? And further, how does one actively listen to social media without keeping tabs on hundreds of social media searches manually? If you’re asking those questions, you’re in the right place—because in today’s article, we’ll discuss what social listening is, discuss how you can do it, and end with six key things your brand can learn from social media listening. The information we share in this article is meant to be practical and actionable. So by the end of this article, we’re confident that your brand will be convinced to use social media listening to expand its audience knowledge.


The difference between social media monitoring and listening?

Did an elementary school teacher ever tell you that there’s a difference between listening and really listening? And by that he or she meant: there’s a difference between smiling and nodding along with a conversation and actually thinking through a conversation, articulating your thoughts, and giving a meaningful response or learning something from it. That’s very similar to the difference between social media monitoring and social media listening.

Social media monitoring is—more often than not—waiting for a problem to arise, responding to it, and moving on. For example, if a customer has an issue with your website, you monitor for that tweet and respond with a solution.

But social media listening takes this one step further. With listening, you actively keep tabs on industry hashtags, keywords, and competitor accounts on your brand. Then, you read through matching tweets, pins, and other social posts and see what you can learn from them.

For example, search for things like:

  • Your brand name and social media account handles
  • Product names and misspellings
  • Company slogans and nicknames
  • Competitor names and related keywords
  • Generic industry hashtags
  • Industry buzzwords

Find trends within these search results and use them to harden your product offering, keep up with cutting-edge new trends, and otherwise ensure your social media is running smoothly. For example, if you’re a coffee company, you’ll likely want to run searches for your brand’s name, different blends of coffee, your city name’s best coffee shops, competitor coffee shop names, and more. Then, read through these results and see what insights you can pull from them. Maybe you’ll see that local coffee-holics love a type of specialty latte at your competitor’s shop but hate their new breakfast sandwiches. Or, you might learn that a specific part of town has no good coffee shops, uncovering a possible new location for your shop.


What your brand can learn from social media listening?

You’re halfway there. Now you know what social listening is, now, let’s take a look at six things you can learn from social media listening in 2019 and how you can take action on your newfound knowledge.


1.  Know your key demographics

Keep an eye on who is talking about your brand, related products, and competitors.

Then, look at their location, age, and other demographic information. Doing this will help you better understand who your audience is and how you can better market to them—so make sure to take full advantage of it. Even better, you should still go a step beyond this though. Look through some individual accounts and try and keep track of common interests. Use this to curate future content and make sure that you’re writing for the right audience.


2. Find influencers in your industry

When social listening, there’s no doubt that you’ll start to see social shares from influencers in the space.

Don’t gloss over these: instead, take note of them.

Follow the popular influencers in your space and pay attention to what they’re talking about. These people are at the forefront of your industry and there’s no doubt that they’re on the hunt for new trends themselves, so why not capitalise on their research? Keep these influencers in a database. This will come in handy when you want to start your own influencer marketing campaign.


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3. Tweak and adjust your content strategy in real-time with sentiment analysis

Sentiment analysis is a hot topic in 2019 and not something you should ignore. In short, this is when you run searches for your product names, brand names, and related buzzwords on social media. Then, you gauge how your audience feels about said topics.

You can—and should—run sentiment analysis on your own brand and its products.

Look for what people love and don’t love about your product, and forward it to your engineering team. Your whole team this as groundwork for continuing to improve your products. We recommend treating sentiment analysis like a project. Look for downturns in your brand’s sentiment, find the root of the problem, and work to solve it before it becomes a brand image disaster.

Further, run sentiment analysis on industry terms and your competitors. You can also use this to find which new industry terms are popular, and which should be avoided—trust us, it’s a lot easier than making the mistakes yourself.


4. Market research for all: find new product ideas right from the source

Market research has long been an expensive and time consuming process.

You need to put together a focus group, compensate participants, and hope that they give you honest responses to your questions. Thankfully, social media listening puts an end to this archaic process.

Now all social media users can be your focus group. And the best part? It’s completely free and they don’t know they’re a part of your experiment. But don’t worry: it isn’t as evil as it sounds.

Just put your ear to the ground and listen for pain points, feature requests, and “wishes” from people in your target industry and demographic. Take note of these complaints and wishes and use them to improve your product lineup, content offerings, or whatever else you sell.

For example, if you’re a coffee shop, look for social media posts that reference someone’s favourite coffee flavour or type of latte. There’s a good chance that you can move caramel cappuccinos if you see 300 tweets wishing for one.

Just make sure this information is shared outside of your social media team. After all, finding this data does no good if it never makes it to your product development team!


5. Find leads and start social selling

When running searches for related industry terms, look for people looking to make a purchase.

For example, if you’re a car dealer running a local search for “used cars” and “used BMW”, make note of the people that are discussing making this purchase. Then, when appropriate, reach out to these people and introduce your product. Try and help this person solve their problem with your product.

Oh, and make sure to keep a close eye on your social media mentions too. When you see someone reaching out with a product question, make sure you actively respond and answer their questions. Otherwise, your lead go cold.


6. Search outside of traditional social networks

Ready to start social media listening? Great news! Just make sure you’re listening to more than just LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. Your brand should also be listening to blogs, review sites, and forums sites like Quora and Reddit. Listening on these sites will give you a super well-rounded look at your social media and what people think about your products and industry.

One great example of this is Reddit. Keeping an eye on related subreddits can be a great place to gauge opinions on any number of topics in your industry. For example, if you sell invoicing software to lawyers, keep an eye on r/lawyers and r/law. Chances are you’ll see lawyers discussing what they love and hate about their current invoicing software.

Further, we’ve found that conversations on Reddit, Quora, and other related sites go much deeper than social media discussions, so you’ll get better insights.


End Thought

In this article you learned what social media listening is, how to do it, and what you can learn from it. Let us know how your brand uses social media listening in the comments—we’re excited to hear from you.