This is a mantra that all marketers live by. The more content you create the more people will get attracted to it and the higher the lead conversion rate. But for an effective communication to take place and a long-lasting and fruitful relationship to be made with the customer, it is equally – or more – important to listen.
Social listening gives you access to powerful business insights by helping you track, analyze and respond to online conversations that are about your brand and your industry. Social listening is somewhat similar to social media monitoring and hence often get confused with each other. They work best together but shouldn’t be used interchangeably.
Dan Neely, the CEO of Networked Insights had the perfect description that helps distinguish the two; “Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest”.
To best understand this difference, here’s a fitting analogy.
Let’s say you own a fast food restaurant and you source your meat from a couple of different vendors. A customer comes in on Monday and orders a cheeseburger. But on taking a bite they complain about how chewy it is. You apologize profusely and give them a refund. On Friday, a customer orders a cheeseburger and the feedback is amazing.
Next Monday, another customer comes in and orders a cheeseburger. The complaint again comes to you that it is too chewy so you give them a refund like the customer from the previous week. This trend continues for about a month.
Looking at these situations on a case-by-case basis, you might write them off as one time issues. You solve the problems as soon as it arrives. That’s social monitoring.
But after a month, you can see a trend developing. As all the complaints come on Mondays you conclude that there’s probably something wrong with the meat on that day. Using that knowledge, you can address the issue by dealing with the vendor about the meat he supplies to you on that day. You can then stop losing money on refunds and in turn be able to provide much better meat on Mondays. That’s social listening.
With social media monitoring, you can track mentions and notifications and take immediate action which is key to an effective engagement strategy. But analyzing context and larger trends that surround those conversations through efficient social listening will give you valuable insights that will enable you to better speak and serve your audience.
The Aim of Social Listening
The Nature of Social Listening
Role of the Social Listener
The Relationship between the Listener and the Speaker
Very often, when companies talk about social listening, they don’t include consumer perceptions and customer experiences. The conversation turns to influencer scores, metrics, sentiment, and volume or the focus shifts slightly to the social media channels managed by the brand where consumers can engage with them about their service and support issues.
This is a very reactive approach and only involves monitoring of inbound conversations and responding to specific concerns. When a company looks beyond numbers and keywords, they will be able to discover the conversations that the customers are actually having about their company and its products and services.
It is important to not just hear your consumer but to actually listen to them. Listen to understand and not just to reply.
Social listening can be used to improve customer relationships. Social listening isn’t just community management and an avenue to solve brand challenges but also a method to use insights from the social research to advance customer interactions. Social listening helps to create a truly integrated customer care strategy that addresses issues like lower customer satisfaction scores, escalating call center costs, and loss of market share.
Listening for the sake of listening is pointless. It is crucial, for the success of your brand, that listening leads to valuable insights that allow your company to make better decisions.
You now understand that social media listening isn’t just about identifying and analyzing what is being said about your brand, products or services on the internet. Neither is it just the job of the marketing or customer service department. Social listening has a huge impact on the company as a whole and can bring greater benefits. You get actionable feedback and valuable real-time data when you come across the concerns, critiques, and compliments that customers upload on social media. Through being a good social listener, you can utilize deep consumer and market insights to ground your entire marketing strategy on.
If your brand listens intentionally, your company will grow exponentially. In this day and age, listening is a very important skill. Once you create a defined listening strategy, you will be able to uncover your brands potential on social media. Keep the following in mind: