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Social Listening: How to listen to your customers even when they are not talking to you

Updated: Mar 25, 2020

We will say it one more time. If you own a business and you are not on social media, you are wrong. Wrong, I tell you. Because whether you are on there or not, your customer base is, and they are probably talking about you or your industry, and you are missing all of that information.

Companies are encouraged, rightfully, to monitor what their followers say about them on social media. They are encouraged to monitor the number of likes and mentions and to respond.

For businesses, there is a ton of talk about engagement and its importance. Responding to followers’ comments and questions on social media is just good business. Like we have written before (Social Media as Customer Service), a businessperson would never ignore phone calls or face to face questions or concerns, so why do it on social media?

But there is a more complex level of engagement; that is social listening. Social listening is the monitoring of social media channels for mentions and keywords. Companies do this to see what is being said about them, their brand and products and their competitors. It is data collection meant to help companies make decisions.

Social listening is another required digital marketing opportunity companies with little to no online presence are missing out on. And yes, it is time consuming.

Why Should Companies Invest All this Time into It?

Social listening can help companies understand how people really feel about them; this is a bit deeper than the analytics the social media sites give regarding engagement.

Social listening is about reading the mood of the posts, really listening to what customers are saying rather than just seeing how many clicks or reposts a page or post gets. Social listening is also about listening to what the online community is saying about a company, and much of that discussion is likely not directly on the companies own page.

Social listening requires combing the internet looking for keywords, mentions and hashtags.

Listening is the key word is social listening. And to show people that the listening is happening, there needs to be action. A good listener, in any situation, will learn about the speaker. In this case, the company can learn what the customer base is looking for from the industry. Comments and posts can tell a company what direction they should head.

Social listening can also help a company gather information on a new product or image. The data collected via social listening is real time data; thus, incredibly useful.

As Always, Set Goals; Collect Data

Before a company can start listening to all of this data, it is important for them to establish clear goals for the listening and a plan to organize the data. Social listening can help with competitive analysis, brand marketing, damage control and customer service.

Another important part of that plan should be to narrow down where a company will listen. There are many platforms, but based on product and clientele some platforms may be more popular.

Companies spend a significant amount of time creating vision and mission, articulating and measuring goals and creating an image and brand. Social media is like a gift. Now companies have access to their customers’ thoughts, complaints and raves regarding their company, in real time for free. Leaving this data on the table is negligent.

Digital marketing has many mandates it seems. Companies have to blog, follow other companies, competitors and partners, engage with customers then measure engagement, learn about SEO and now listen to the entire internet. It requires time, know-how and the right tools.

Companies need to have a digital marketing professional at the table in 2020.

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