What is social listening and why should I care?

Social listening can have a major impact on your brand, whether you're in education or business. Learn what you need to know about social listening and the best practices to use for your brand.

Illustration of users commenting on social networks.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, products and any other ideas or themes that are relevant to your business or school. Beyond monitoring these platforms, the next step is to analyze the information received into actionable insights. These actions can range from engaging with happy customers to shifting your overall brand’s positioning strategy.

If you’re not engaged in social listening, you’re essentially creating your business strategy with blinders on. You could be missing out on mountains of actionable insights from real people who are actively talking about you and your industry online—why wouldn’t you want to listen to them? In short, if you don’t care about social listening, you don’t really care about your customers, and that’s just bad business.

Here are just some of the ways social listening can benefit your brand:

  • Customer engagement or research
  • Identifying key wins or areas of opportunity of your marketing efforts in real time
  • Discover how your customers perceive you compared to your competitors
  • Uncover pain points in your industry and be the first to address them
  • Identify leads, influencers and advocates that you can further develop

Social Listening Best Practices
Here are some key points to keep in mind to get the most out of your social listening efforts.

Identify where people talk about you and what they are saying.
Rather than just using the big social networks like Facebook and Twitter, cast a wide net with your social listening program. You may be surprised to learn that conversations about your brand are very different on LinkedIn than on Facebook. There could be a lot of conversation on Twitter, but nothing on Instagram. Understanding where people are talking about you and how those conversations vary, will allow you to create an effective strategy and join the conversation.

Learn from your competition
If you’re not taking action, you’re just engaged in social monitoring, not listening. Social listening is about gaining real insights into what your customers want from you, and how you can better address those needs. While you never want to follow someone’s strategy too closely, you can gain insights into what works and what doesn’t in your industry by listening closely to what audiences think of your competitors’ actions.

Collaborate with customer service, content marketing and product development
Your social listening efforts can provide a range of information from ideas on content marketing to new products. Share your social listening insights will all relevant teams throughout your company or. Seek input from those teams to learn if they have specific questions that you could answer by tweaking your social listening approach.

Benchmark what is normal, then watch for changes
As you start collecting social data, you’ll develop a sense of what’s normal for your brand in terms of conversation and sentiment. Once you establish your benchmark, you can actively work to improve those numbers and results. Significant changes in engagement or sentiment are flags that overall perception is changing and you need to understand why so you can adapt your strategy and amend the misstep.

Examine what your data is telling you and take action
Remember if you don’t take action, you’re just monitoring, not listening. Social listening is not just tracking metrics, but gaining real insights into what your customers want from you and how you can better address those needs. It’s important to allow time and budget to analyze the data and trends gathered, rather than just comments, as these overall insights can have the most powerful results in guiding your future strategy.

Want to learn more about how social listening can benefit your brand? Our experts would love to talk with your team.