Social listening is an essential tool for businesses looking to stay ahead of the competition and gain a better understanding of their customers and prospects. By monitoring conversations on social media, companies can identify opportunities to engage with potential customers and get real-time feedback about their products or services.

The insights gained from social listening can be invaluable when it comes to making strategic business decisions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why social listening matters and provide tips on making the most of your social listening efforts.

What is social listening?

Social listening refers to observing conversations about your brand, product, or industry across all social networks. It’s an active process companies use to identify and analyze conversations about their brand that are taking place online to better understand customer sentiment and interests. With this kind of data and analysis, companies can achieve a better understanding of their customers and provide a more tailored experience that improves satisfaction and retention.

Social listening versus social monitor

Chart of the 3 key differences between social listening and social monitoring.

Social listening and social monitoring are often used interchangeably, but there are some big differences between the two. The differences might appear to be subtle, but they’re unique in practice. While both focus on pulling information from online conversations, the similarities pretty much end there. Before we get into the specific areas where social listening and social monitoring differ, let’s understand what social monitoring is.

Defining social monitoring

Social media monitoring involves regularly tracking conversations and interactions on digital channels as it relates to your brand. This practice helps organizations connect with customers to address concerns as well as provide thoughtful feedback which can help you make any appropriate changes. Social monitoring keeps brands engaged with their audience while they obtain insights that allow them to deliver better service and experiences.

In other words, social monitoring requires two-way communication involving followers whereas social listening exclusively services the business side of things. Let’s take a look at some more differences between the two.

Macro versus micro

Social listening is more of a macro approach. It’s a high-level overview of your online conversations with the purpose of identifying trends, measuring sentiment, and studying consumer behavior. These insights can help inform your marketing strategies for long-term gains.

Social monitoring is considered more micro because you are assisting customers on a case-by-case level. Such as responding to comments, answering questions, and resolving complaints. These actions are short-term gains.

social media guide

Proactive versus reactive

With social listening, organizations are taking proactive steps to better understand their customers, their interests, and how they generally feel about the brand. A social listening platform can also serve as an early-warning system for potential customer service issues because it lets you anticipate a need you weren’t aware of. As a result, you’ll be ready with solutions before problems arise.

Social monitoring is more reactive because it mainly focuses on responding to current customer feedback and issues. This means that businesses can react quickly and efficiently to changing consumer sentiment about their brand and provide timely responses to customer complaints or questions. These efforts will help the organization maintain a positive online reputation.

Business-facing versus customer-facing

Social listening lets you gather data from conversations while data analysis is what lets you extract actionable insights. Now, you can deliver relevant data-driven information to internal stakeholders to support decision-making processes.

Social monitoring helps you stay on top of any customer feedback. Answering questions or solving problems not only helps the customer in need but also shows potential customers what experience they can expect when dealing with your company.

5 ways companies use social listening

Social listening has become an essential tool for companies in recent years. By tracking and analyzing online conversations, businesses can obtain valuable information about the customer journey. Here are five ways organizations are using social listening today.

1. Gauge sentiment

By tracking conversations across digital networks, companies can gain insight into how their customers feel about their brand. For example, if a large number of people are expressing negative feelings towards a certain product or service, this could be a signal that improvements are needed. Positive comments, on the other hand, can help inform marketing strategies and identify areas that resonate most with your target audience. By understanding what customers are saying about your brand online, companies can understand how their digital marketing efforts can be adjusted to provide a better customer experience.

Social media listening can also help you identify trends. By studying the data from social media conversations, companies can uncover their customers’ interests, preferences, and buying behaviors. This helps you recognize trends that can be used to inform product development, research direction, marketing strategies, and even build relationships with influencers who can help expand your reach for promoting the brand.

3. Competitor analysis

Social listening can also be used to keep tabs on competitors and monitor how they’re interacting with their customers. Companies can use this information to learn from their rivals’ successes and failures, which can influence the direction of upcoming campaigns or events.

4. Better customer service

Social listening also helps with responding to customers in a timely manner. By quickly identifying customer concerns or complaints, businesses can respond in real-time to improve the overall customer journey. Companies that offer excellent customer service can enjoy the benefits of turning one-time customers into loyal brand advocates, elevating their lifetime value.

Social media post example of how social listening can improve customer service.

5. Improving products and services

By tracking customer feedback online, companies can better understand how to improve their products and services. Social listening helps businesses identify areas they are lacking and what customers want from them. The data mined from online conversations can help inform product development, pricing strategies, or marketing campaigns so that the organization is better able to meet customer expectations.

Social media post example of how social listening can improve products and services.

Social listening tips and tricks

Chart of 3 key social listening tips: ID pain points, research keywords to track, and improve the customer feedback process.

Knowing how to effectively use social listening is key to saving time and staying in touch with your target audience. Here are a few tips and tricks to get the most out of this initiative.

Identify pain points

Identifying customer pain points can help you target conversation better for the purpose of learning your customers’ issues. This will provide tangible ideas that help solve their problems sooner. It can also alert you of pain points you might not be aware of. Companies can then build a product or service that customers need as opposed to what they think they need.

Research keywords to track

In the same light, research keywords relevant to your product so that you can hone in on the conversations most pertinent to your brand. Knowing the language used by your customers will help you narrow down what conversations to monitor so that you’re able to see what they’re really saying. A good way to track your keywords is by setting up alerts within your social listening tool so that you’re notified as soon as any conversation containing those keywords appears.

Enhance your customer feedback process

Setting up mechanisms to capture and analyze customer feedback will enhance your customer feedback process. Now you can use this information to improve your overall decision-making. Additionally, it gives companies the ability to track and measure the impact of their marketing campaigns, so they can adjust their strategies accordingly.

social media toolkit

Getting started with social listening

Social listening is a powerful tool that can give organizations valuable insights into their customers and competitors. However, just like any marketing tactic you need to formulate a strategy around it. Here are a few ideas to get your social listening strategy off the ground.

Set goals and outcomes

Before diving into social listening, it’s important to identify the goals and desired outcomes that you want to accomplish. This will help inform which conversations you should be monitoring and what data needs to be collected.

Choose the right social listening tool

Once you have your goals set, selecting the right social listening tool is key to making sure relevant and accurate data is collected. There are many options available that provide various features to help you identify and monitor conversations across multiple platforms. Select the one that will help you accomplish your goals and fits your budget.

Determine topics and themes

The internet is vast, so to get the most out of social listening, determine the topics and themes that make the most sense for your situation. Selecting topics to monitor will weed out unnecessary conversations and help you gather the data relevant to your brand. This includes keywords related to your product, industry, or competitors.

Tracking and analyzing data

Once you have the platform and topics set up, make sure to track only the appropriate data so that you are working with smaller data sets. With the right data in place now you can analyze the information to extract relevant insights. This will give you an accurate picture of how customers feel about your brand and what they’re saying about it.

Prepare a report

Finally, prepare a report with all of your findings. This should include insights related to customer sentiment, popular topics of discussion, and any issues or challenges that were identified. This will equip business stakeholders with actionable information to make data-driven decisions.

The social media cycle

With nearly 5 billion people using social media, social listening also plays a big role in what’s known as the social media cycle. This is a framework that helps companies interact, engage, and convert their social media followers into paying customers. It lets companies realize the full potential of their social media marketing efforts and maximizes the return on their investment. The social media cycle can be broken down into four distinct stages:

Graph of the 4 stages of the social media cycle: listening, influencing, networking, and selling.

Stage 1: Listening

As we’ve mentioned, social listening will help you get a pulse on what people are saying about your brand so you can create or adjust your marketing strategies and keep them relevant to your target audience. Without listening, you run the risk of creating a strategy that people don’t respond to and wasting your time, money, and effort.

Stage 2: Influencing

This can be done in a number of ways, including creating and sharing high-quality content, engaging with influencers and thought leaders in your industry, and running targeted social media ads. The goal is to make sure that when people are talking about your products or services online, they see your brand name front and center.

Stage 3: Networking

You can do this by joining relevant online communities and forums, participating in Twitter threads, Facebook Groups, webinars, and attending offline events like conferences and meetups. The goal is to establish yourself as a thought leader in the industry and build relationships that can further your company’s goals.

Stage 4: Selling

There are plenty of ways to make sales through social media, including running targeted ads, using social media to drive traffic to your website, and leveraging influencer marketing to promote special offers or discounts. The goal is to turn casual followers into paying customers.

Frequently asked questions about social listening

What are social listening examples?

Social listening examples include tracking customer sentiment, monitoring conversations for brand mentions, identifying popular topics of discussion related to a business, and understanding how people are responding to competitors in the industry.

What are social listening tools?

Social listening tools are software applications that collect and analyze data from online platforms to allow companies to monitor their brand reputation and customer conversations. These tools provide insights into public opinion of the brand by tracking keywords related to the company’s products or services.

What is the importance of social listening?

The importance of social listening is that it allows companies to gain a better perspective on how people perceive their brand and provides valuable insights into customer preferences.

How is social listening measured?

Social listening is measured using metrics and techniques such as the number of mentions, sentiment analysis, audience demographics, and engagement levels. Social media listening tools can help measure how often certain topics or keywords are mentioned across all digital channels.

What are the three benefits of social listening?

Three social listening benefits include: gaining valuable customer insights, understanding the competition better, and creating more effective marketing campaigns.

What is social media listening?

Social media listening is the process of monitoring conversations and interactions specifically on social media platforms. It enables companies to identify customer sentiment in order to adjust their marketing strategies to maximize their ROI.

Birdeye Social makes social listening easy

Most businesses spread out over multiple social media platforms so that they can reach their customers anywhere. This can be overwhelming and time-consuming for companies managing multiple accounts for multiple locations. With Birdeye Social, you can funnel all your social media conversations into one, easy-to-use platform. Schedule some time and speak to one of our experts today to learn more.

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