Social media is an outlet for every aspect of business these days: public relations, customer service, project development, marketing, and even human resources. With all of the noise you’ll find online, it can be difficult to sift through conversations that are actually relevant to your business and your brand. Just as it’s important to be listening during a face-to-face conversation, it’s essential to be listening to what others are saying about you on social networks—both competitors and consumers. When you lend an ear to your audience, you’ll find out how others perceive your business, learn how to improve your marketing strategy, learn who the influencers are in your industry, and monitor the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
Know Where Your Customers Are and Listen
If you truly want to know how your customers perceive your brand, you need to find out where they’re talking. If you own a clothing store, you’ll likely find your customers on most social networking platforms; however, if you’re in a more technical field or B2B, focus your efforts on LinkedIn or Twitter. Once you’ve narrowed down your networks, start eavesdropping on conversations. You don’t necessarily need to jump in every time someone mentions your name, but it is important to practice reputation management. If you find someone voicing their dissatisfaction with your company, address the problem as quickly as possible. to prevent it from blowing up into a crisis. Conversations come and go quickly on social networks, and you don’t want customer complaints to build up steam and tarnish your reputation.
Spy on Your Competitors
It’s OK to be stalking your competitors on social media—in fact, you should be keeping a close eye on them. Keep tabs on their social profiles and see what projects they’re working on, get a grasp on the kind of content they’re pushing, and make a note of whether it seems to be working for them or not. Listening to what their customers have to say about the company will also help you figure out how to market your services better. Listening can help you understand why these customers are loyal to that company, what they are looking for in terms of services or products.
Use Listening Tools
Most businesses don’t have the time to monitor all social networks every second of every day. Even if they did, it would be nearly impossible to catch every single conversation that takes place. That’s why social listening tools, such as Google Alerts and Hootsuite, are so useful. You can set up Google Alerts to notify you whenever a website is posting about you, except for social media and blog sites. It doesn’t catch every mention, but it may catch things that you missed the first time around. Hootsuite is perfect for monitoring Twitter, where conversations take place in the blink of an eye and then disappear. You can also scan Twitter in real time to ensure that you reply immediately and join discussions as they’re happening.
If you know where your audience is, who your competitors are, and what they’re all saying about you, you have an advantage. You can use this data to improve your marketing strategy, rethink your campaign, or prevent crises. This kind of data can’t always be measured in numbers, but social listening is just as important as any of your other marketing efforts.