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The Importance of Listening on Social Media

Posted by Joe Clarkin on 5/2/16 11:00 PM
Topics: social media, college store customer service

There are two sides of the coin for social media interaction. The first - the one we all think about more - is the content we put out there in front of our followers. This is how you build your following, by enticing people to come back regularly for more engaging posts. But the other side is hearing what those followers have to say in response to both the content you put out there, and what your business does in general. We don't think about this one as much, but it's extremely important. How can you get better if you're not listening to your customers?

In this article entitled "A Guide to Social Media Listening for Your Business," Hootsuite author Dara Fontein describes what constitutes social media listening, and why it's so important to a business like yours who likely uses social media frequently. You can read a portion of Dara's article below, but we encourage you to check out the full article, and other great stories, on the Hootsuite blog.

Why does social listening matter to your business?

There are countless reasons why social listening matters, but as I don’t want this to be the ‘blog post-that-never-ends’ the following points are the most notable. Social media listening matters for your business because it helps:

  • Customer care efforts, as “through monitoring what customers are saying about your brand on social media, you are able to jump in when necessary to remedy situations that require it, or just engage with your [happy and satisfied] customers.” American Express found that the top five reasons U.S. customers use social media (i.e. what you are listening for) include seeking responses from companies, praising a company, sharing information about an experience with a business, venting frustration and complaints, or asking other customers how to have a better experience.
  • Get feedback, in the same vein as social media customer care efforts, social listening can help you get feedback on your specific products and services. What are people loving or hating? What features do they think would help? All of this can be found through some careful social media listening.
  • Generate leads, through not only solving customer problems and publicly highlighting your business’ focus on the customer to future customers, but in listening to what those in your industry are talking about and strategically (and appropriately) contributing to the conversation.
  • Find influencers and advocates by paying attention to your community and those who are actively engaging.
  • Find top talent by focusing on job-seekers and those in your industry who could be a great fit for your team.
  • Competitive analysis. Social listening will give you insights into what your main competitors are doing online

For all of these reasons (and many, many more), social listening is something that your brand and business need to take seriously.

Social listening strategy

Now that you can see why social listening matters to your business, you probably want to know how to actually practice it. When planning your strategy, one of the first things you’ll need to think about is what kind of keywords and phrases you need to monitor. To help you out, here are some keywords and topics we recommend listening to:

  • Your own brand’s name (including misspellings!)
  • Your competitors (again, including misspellings)
  • Industry buzzwords
  • Brand slogans
  • Your CEO or public representative’s names (and misspellings)
  • Campaign names or keywords

Now that you have an idea of what to listen for, there are a number of tools available to streamline the process.

Social listening tools and apps

Like with any job, having the right tools can make all the difference. While there are countless tools available, the following are our recommendations:

  • Google Alerts—set up a Google alert with keywords you are tracking in your industry, mentions of your brand, as well as your competitors’ names.
  • Quora—use Quora to monitor the questions and key discussions happening in your industry. For more information on Quora’s many uses, see our guide “Write On: A Writer’s Guide to Quora.”
  • Twitter Advanced Search—narrow down your searches, search by negative or positive sentiment, explore relevant hashtags, and much more. For a guide on using Twitter’s Advanced Search, see our post “How to Use Twitter’s Advanced Search for Lead Generation.”
  • Social Mentionmonitors over 100 sources and “allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.”
  • Hootsuiteuse Hootsuite to set up streams that allow you to not only monitor conversations and keywords, but respond or assign the response to someone else on your team. For more information on using Hootsuite for your social listening, our “Introduction to Social Listening” guide is extremely helpful.
  • TweetReachoffers basic listening tools, and helps you monitor Tweets about your brand, and industry conversations.
  • ViralHeatallows you to listen to conversations around your brand across social networks and then “identify trends to drive insights around your social media performance.”
— Dara Fontein, Hootsuite
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