What is social listening? 4 mistakes that could hurt your business

Written by Anupam Jolly

Social listening is one of the best ways to understand what your audience is saying about your business on social media. Customers’ opinions and concerns can both increase and decrease your success and impact the terms of the products or services you provide. However, with billions of messages being shared every day across hundreds of social media platforms, listening to relevant content can be a daunting task.

If done correctly, social listening can help you engage with your customers more effectively. You can hear their complaints and provide instant solutions, and turn negative experiences into positive ones.

What is social listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring conversations of your potential and established customers on social media platforms to understand what they’re saying about your brand and about the industry. Understanding this can help you build a better product or service, address customers’ complaints before they escalate and even gain more customers for your business.

Read also: Getting started with social listening

Why should you care about it?

Tracking what your customers and prospects are saying about your business on social media is the key to building an effective engagement strategy. With social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter offering consumers platforms from which to share their thoughts with billions of people across the world, companies ranging from SMBs to MNCs now take these conversations seriously.

By analyzing relevant conversations which might be directly related to your brand, or targeting the industry on the whole, you get a fair idea of what your customers think about your service. This further helps in identifying the services they are looking forward to and services they don’t seem interested in. This is genuine data that can help you plan your next business move to gain more customers.

Common social listening mistakes businesses make:

Social listening is an extremely important part of building an effective marketing, sales and product strategy. However, the fact is that there aren’t any benchmarks for listening correctly. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to listen. Here are the most common social listening mistakes to avoid in order to create an effective business strategy that works:

1)  Listening to irrelevant conversations

Although you might be tempted to listen to every interaction that’s made on social media, just sit back and think: “What will I do with all this data?”. Rather than having a barrage of irrelevant data, focus your time and energy on capturing data that’s relevant to you. Build a focused list of hashtags and keywords so you see everything that’s important and nothing that’s not.

what is social listening

As you begin monitoring these terms, you might notice themes that let you filter even further. For example, if you own several pizzerias in different areas of a city and suddenly the revenue from one pizzeria drops,  you can focus your effort on reading and responding to comments that your customers are making for that particular location. This saves you from the added effort of listening to conversations made by customers across the city.

Read also: Tips for social listening success

2)  Not setting goals for your social listening strategy

The whole idea behind social listening is to help you understand what your customers think about your products or services. This helps you make changes to your products before concerns escalate into negative publicity. In order for your listening campaign to bring you results, you need to focus on what you intend to gain.

Here are a few questions that you need to answer before you start listening to social media comments:

  • Do you want to understand customers’ sentiments towards your brand?
  • Are you interested in customer feedback related to your latest product?
  • Are you trying to get insights into your competition?

3)  Not leveraging social for customer service

In our current social-media driven environment, customers want your business to listen to them on whichever platforms they choose. If your customers are raising complaints and you’re not listening to them, they will feel that you don’t care about their experiences. This may further push them to choose your competitor. However, by simply ensuring that your customers’ concerns are addressed on social media, you are building a credible image for your brand.

Read also: Social customer service is the new online marketing

4)  Not listening to your competition

The beauty of social listening is that it not only allows you to keep track of your customers’ comments, but it also allows you to follow the comments of your competitors’ customers. It’s easy: just set up your social listening tool to also include important keywords and hashtags for your top 3 competitors.

Your competitors’ customers are your most likely prospects, so listening to them helps you understand what they want. Competitive social listening lets you discover what your competitors’ customers like and dislike. This further helps you know where your business can fill in the gaps with superior products and services. On top of this, you will also know what kind of messages will strike a chord with these customers.

A comprehensive social listening strategy can help you address customers’ concerns and drive actionable insights. Moreover, it also helps you build better products and services, with which you can gain an advantage over your competition.

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