When your branding is in its infancy, chances are that you are desperately seeking avenues to build your brand’s online reputation.
The best way to introduce your existence to people online is by shouting from the rooftop of social media channels. However, shouting out loud ‘you exist’ is not good enough. You should be able to not only build brand awareness but track and monitor how well people are responding or ‘listening’ to your branding efforts on social media.
“You know you’ve made it to the pantheon of popular brands when people on social media are saying nice things about you”
A couple of mistakes here and there could ruin all your hard work.
In other words, you don’t want to do things that could destroy your brand’s reputation. You may want to steer clear of scandals and any dubious schemes that can drag your brand’s identity through the mud.
At the same time, you need to have some system in place to closely keep track of the social media mentions your brand generates, be they negative or positive.
Today, any brand worth its salt uses social listening to closely monitor how followers are talking about it on social media channels. It is perhaps the most tried and tested means of spotting negative reactions so that brands can take measures to salvage the situation.
As attested to by successful brands, when used effectively social listening help brands remove hurdles in realising true potential.
What exactly is social listening, the buzzword every brand talks about?
Social listening allows you to monitor the social mentions and different types of reactions your brand receives on social media channels.
Getting industry-specific insights into performance metrics helps brands to reshape their branding strategy accordingly.
Using social listening you can understand the way in which your brand is viewed by followers and take necessary actions to even change people’s perception of the brand.
After all, it’s about gaining actionable insights from a cross-section of users so you can counteract negative feedback and possibly identify the right branding opportunity when you see them.
Still unconvinced as to why your brand should use social listening to leverage your marketing efforts?
In addition to keeping track of social mentions and discussions about your brand, social listening helps run a qualitative analysis of the metrics and take steps to satisfy the true needs of customers.
As a marketing strategy, it takes you right into the heart of the problems and helps you find long-term solutions.
Every brand wants to know the reason for the failure of their branding efforts, and why people trashed or bad mouthed on social media. Social listening helps them do just that.
Today, all leading brands conduct frequent social listening to make sure that they know the pulse of the followers and create content that truly resonate with their followers.
Additionally, using data extracted from social listening, you can enhance customer experience by having real-time conversations with your followers – and even conjure up new ideas and script your brand message in perfect harmony with customer requirements.
Social listening and Social monitoring are two different things
There’s no point in confusing social listening with social monitoring, in fact, both things could not be more different. The difference between the two processes lies in how social listening sieves the content that you don’t own.
The all-encompassing reach of social listening helps you track the activities on not just your own pages, but all kinds of mentions and discussions about your brand in posts where you are not even tagged.
Social media monitoring is all about keeping tabs on people’s interaction with your brand and how you react to them.
Social listening, on the other hand, is all about understanding how people talk about your brand when you might not necessarily be paying attention.
It gives you deeper insights into customer behaviour and even helps you surprise followers by offering them tailor-made brand content to satiate their tastes.
Following are some reasons why brands adopt Social listening
1. Customer love it when brands respond to them personally
Everyone likes hogging the limelight. It’s even truer of most customers who would give anything to have their moment in the sun. They all like to be given a shout out on social media.
In a study published by sprout social in 2017, 83% followers were delighted to have their questions directly answered by brands.
If these stats prove anything, it’s that it pays off for brands to turn their social media activities up a notch and be more responsive to user messages or questions.
“A well-crafted response can go a long way in building brand trust and skyrocketing consumer retention rate”
As the study suggests, a remarkable 52% of users proceed to buy things from a brand that has a history of friendly exchanges with them.
Now, any kind of response from your part may not quite cut it.
Here’s where the social listening process can help your brand.
The idea is to carefully observe different types of user responses and use your judgement to come up with responses that solve their problems and instil your brand identity in their minds.
2. Micro analyse step-by-step growth of your brand
It’s only natural for brands to run into scandals or be at the receiving end of some smear campaign.
Just one step in the wrong direction can open a pandora’s box of backlash against your brand image on social media.
Of course, brands often steer clear of the spite and vitriol people spew on social media but rarely do they let the negative remarks to overshadow the positive ones.
Brands use social listening to find out if you have started losing your followers after the social media backlash.
More importantly, they don’t just limit their investigation to a specific metric, rather they include a host of other relevant metrics such as sales and traffic to address the root cause of the problem.
Having all the information will help you get a broader picture of the problem, determine whether it requires a solution or whether it is just a phase in your brand journey.
3. Help brands see brand new opportunities
When your branding is on the mark, you can leave the rest to your customers.
The best part about branding is that it lets you gather information about how consumers reach your social media activities.
If you hear an outcry from a certain section of customers over a particular problem, it’s time for you to put on the investigative cap and start taking notes.
Now, with Social Listening, brands can go one step further by seeing in these situations new business opportunities.
Let’s say you are running Zumba dance centre, and lately, your customers have been growing frustrated about how quickly the seats are filling up.
Looking at this situation from another standpoint, you have a chance to make the Zumba dance accessible to more customers by introducing more number of classes.
You may have to open up classes in a new space or even put a limit on the number of classes people can attend per week.
Even if you don’t find a one size fits all solution, you still get to experiment with various methods and see which one connects with customers the most. Actionable data, that’s exactly what brands get out using social listening.
4. Allows brands to improve customer acquisition
Social media presents brands with endless options to broaden their reach.
When users thoroughly enjoy the content you offer them, they will always come to you to get the value and before you know it, they turn into your loyal customers.
Ideally, you should always try to target people who have a good chance of engaging with your content, because that’s the practice you can learn from the best brands in the world.
In a way, inbound marketing holds the key to attracting the relevant audience and delivering valuable content of their liking.
After all, the regular subscribers of your content are more likely to turn into your loyal customers than those to whom you deliver content indiscriminately.
Brands rely on social listening to find the type of content that will really connect with followers.
Using metrics like social mentions, hashtags, post shares, you can pick out the diverse range of content your potential followers may be interested in.
Once brands know what their target audience like and follow, they create content to satisfy their tastes and convert them into their regular audience.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of social listening tools your brand can use to leverage online assets. Social media experts at Mr Digital has compiled a list of tools later in this article.
Why do brands believe in social listening?
If you are an up and coming brand that isn’t investing your time or money in social listening, then you are missing out on big opportunities.
As you read this, there may be people out there discussing your brand on social media, and you don’t even know it yet.
You are curious to find out what people have in mind about your products or services, aren’t you? Well, you should be.
If you want your brand to have a future, then you should start caring about what people say about your brand on social media.
Well, let’s look at some reasons why major brands continue to make social listening an integral part of their marketing strategy.
Look at all the customer engagement
With an effective social listening strategy in place, a brand can actually seize new opportunities to build brand awareness by striking up productive conversations.
Conducting social listening on a timely basis allows businesses to spread the good word about their brands.
As a brand which is constantly undergoing changes, social listening will keep you on your toes at all times and urge you to engage conversations with potential followers.
Ask yourself this simple question, when was the last time you engaged your customer in a meaningful conversation?
Well, start using social listening to identify the right opportunities.
For example, let’s say you’re running a health and wellness centre that is using social listening to build brand reputation.
On the cancer awareness day, you are organising hair donation programme.
With social listening tools, you can identify and directly respond to donors and people who may be interested in donorship while spreading the good word about your brand.
Make changes to brand strategy in real-time
Engagement is undoubtedly the most important signal on social media.
But what’s just as important is the emotional impact it has on the target audience.
This is where brands use social listening tools to identify the slightest changes in the emotional responses of their followers.
Tools help brands to make sense of the changes by measuring them up against their recently published posts.
The process allows brands to better understand what has gone right and what has gone completely wrong.
In essence, all the positive reaction you get is the result of something that you did right.
Your job is to look for the reasons behind such a reaction.
Customers, especially the loyal ones, are known for sharing their likes and dislikes with brands.
Brands use this information as a framework to shape their marketing strategy on social media.
If your current strategy is not attracting positive engagement, social listening tools can help you inform your strategy and improve the engagement rate.
For instance, the timely application of social listening has helped many brands to save their blushes by averting major PR disasters.
Let’s say the social media pages for your educational institution is not generating the desired level of engagement.
Using social listening, you can figure out which topics your target audience may be interested in real-time and start optimising your content for the specific keywords.
With relevant insights into your audience tastes and interests, you can start engaging them with meaningful content.
How brands can identify industry influencers using Social listening
Most brands realise the role industry influencers play in driving growth for businesses, hence they all invest in influencer marketing without any hesitation.
Influencers figure high on the agenda of many brands largely because social media users pay more attention to individual influencers than businesses. After all, when influential individuals talk, people listen.
Brands take that extra step and identify the social listening tools to leverage their influencer marketing efforts. These tools give you systematic guidance in discovering actionable insights on social media.
Let’s now look at some general ways in which brands use social listening tools.
Identifying an influencer for your brand
Brands customise the features in the social listening tool to spot the influencers based on a number of metrics including hashtags and keywords.
You may also want to find out who your competitors are using in their influencer marketing strategies.
Influencers tend to wield a good amount of influence over specific industries, and they often make a point of using hashtags and keywords related to the industry.
The moment an influencer gives a shout out to your brand, you officially enter into a collaboration with the influencer.
Selecting the perfect influencer for your brand
When it comes to choosing the right influencer for your brand, you should not settle for just anyone.
Use a social listening tool to analyse all types of people that you may deem fit for the influencer position.
The idea is to choose the one with the greatest amount of influence.
Identifying one such influencer often involves measuring the scale of their engagement, the size of the community they reach, and the average reach of their posts. You may also want to look into the number of mentions and other social engagement metrics.
Conducting your homework about the influencer
Make a list of influencers following the previously mentioned tips.
Once you have done that it all boils down to personally reaching out to each one of them until you have found the right one.
Don’t forget to perform your research on all the influencers, and personalise your message for each of them. This way you are giving them a good reason to take your pitch seriously.
If an influencer finds something special in your pitch, they will immediately show interest in collaborating with you.
For this, you need to be familiar with the influencer culture on social media and must use social listening tool to learn about the influencer’s track record and achievements.
Once you get more background information, you will be in a better position to determine whether the influencer is the right person to represent your brand.
“So how do you identify the right influencer for your budding brand especially when you don’t have a lot of money to spend”?
Well, the one way to find the right influencer for your brand is by looking for them like the average person who simply wants to be influenced one way or another.
When you feel like you’re making progress, it’s time for you to take the next and start investing more of your time and energy in influencer marketing by using different social listening tools.
Some examples of how brands are killing it with social listening
For a while, social listening techniques have become the go-to strategy for brands that want to stay on top and beat the competition on social media.
It’s arguably the most trusted social data analysis practice there is.
Your followers are spending more time on social media platforms and they might just be talking about your brand now, but you don’t have any way to learn what they may be saying about you and brand.
That’s just the reason why brands are today depending on different social listening tools to take part in the social conversation.
So let’s see what brands are doing with their social listening tools:
Addressing consumer questions and worries
For brands, social media is where the real magic happens and social marketers along with all others are expected to keep their eyes open for any actionable customer signals on social media.
An active social community forms the foundation of every successful brand.
You can use social listening to build community and give all your followers a good sense of community experience.
In essence, it’s about making all your followers an organic part of the community by being there to answer their questions and overcome any concerns.
It’s certainly not about unloading a huge amount of information on them on a regular basis. Rather you should offer them valuable content and engage them in life-affirming conversations by solving their problems in real-time.
Conducting competitor research
Good marketers imitate competitors, but great marketers perform competitor analysis and outshine them.
As a brand, you should always stay one step ahead of your counterparts and be wary of the competition.
Before you can establish your brand’s presence on a social sphere, you must first understand the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
This is where big brands effectively use social listening tools to spy on branding activities.
Finding out how people talk about competitors is the first step to understanding what people don’t like and tailoring your content accordingly.
Learn what they are doing right and where they are way off the mark.
Brands have a long history of tapping into the weakness of their competitors in the hope of using it to their personal advantage.
Using industry terms for branding
The power social listening tool lies in helping brands discover emerging trends.
Stay at the forefront of the most happening social events and jump on the bandwagon before your competitors do.
On social media, it’s absolutely essential that you get to be in the thick of everything trendy.
With social listening tools, brands discover the latest hashtags in perfect alignment with their unique brand message.
Brands also use this strategy to discover people who might be already talking about them on social media.
The ultimate goal is to engage the audience and remain relevant and shareworthy. Use listening tools to find ways to effectively communicate your brand message and understand the demographics of your audience.
Find the content that gets them all excited and stay away from divisive topics that can provoke negative sentiments.
Leverage the potential of your brand executives
Most companies are guilty of overlooking the potential they have in their own backyard.
Take, for instance, brands who run after influencers when they could look to their own brand executives do the influencing. Great brands always unearth in their executives the potential to be true thought leaders in the industry. They use social listening tools to monitor what the representatives of rival brands are saying on social media and use the information to broaden the presence of their own brand.
You may also imitate or get inspiration from major influencers in the process.
Understand what types of posts connect with followers and what posting frequency you should adopt.
Find out how executives manage to remain true to their selves by publishing original content.
Brands use listening tools to compare the engagement rate and share worthiness of the content they post.
Now use these 5 social listening tools to take your branding to the next level
Hootsuite is an easy-to-use social media management tool that lets you keep track of social messages, brand mentions and engagement metrics on different channels.
Using this tool, you can easily manage all your prospects in lists and import them on the go. The tool offers three different plans that you can choose based on your social listening and brand goals. It’s inbuilt with a wide range of features to track social media activities in real-time.
Sometimes tracking conversations on social media can be a drag, especially when you are trying to keep tabs on some unknown topic. Using Synthesio you can track all kinds of social conversations that take place within specific audiences.
The tool offers a reporting feature that comprises of social reputation rating. Use the social listening tool to track your mentions based on metrics like region, language, emotions, influence and follower demographics.
Every social marketer can use a tool like Mentionlytics that can offer uninterrupted access to mentions across social media channels. Using this powerful tool you can find the right influencers and build your brand’s credibility and reputation in no time.
Mentionlytics is used by brands of all shapes and sizes. It offers comprehensive monitoring of your social clients and follower while streamlining your social activities with easy data reporting.
Buffer is really a multifaceted social tool that social marketers cannot do without.
When it comes to social listening, you can’t go wrong with Buffer as it allows you to access various stats and engagement metrics on a single interface. It serves as a perfect scheduling and publishing tool that lets you manage social media campaigns with great ease. It also comes with reporting and analytics features that will easily help you gauge user engagement and user behaviour.
Social marketers of leading brands use this tool to primarily identify the engagement rate of niche posts across various social media platforms. The engagement metrics such as shares and impressions are then used by marketers to determine how to create fresh and share-worthy content. It also serves as a powerful tool for monitoring a wide range of activities on Facebook.
The tool can help social marketers with posting frequency and content ideas.
How can your brand get started with social listening?
While big brands rightly take the expensive routs to leverage their social media strategy, not every brand in the world can afford to do that.
Of course, there is always a powerful tool tailor-made to do the social listening for you but at the same time, small guys understandably take a manually driven approach to economise their social listening efforts.
For example, you can start off by creating a list of industry buzzwords to look up every now and then to see if you are getting any new ideas for content creation.
Turn on your Google alerts and look out for any brand mentions, while you’re at it find out how your competitors are doing.
Go that extra mile and look up your company name on facebook regularly to see if you are receiving any brand mentions.
You never know, you may get to see brand mentions on posts in which you were not tagged.
As you get things started you may also want to consider approaching professional social media marketing agency with proven experience of helping brands realize their potential.
Social Marketers at Mr Digital love collaborating with interesting brands and help them along their unique journey.