First things first, what actually is social listening?
Social listening involves tracking mentions of your brand, competitors, and anything relevant to your industry, on social media. To get a detailed picture, you’re going to want to monitor mentions across a number of social channels. Focusing on platforms where your target audience is most active might seem like the obvious thing to do, but don’t forget that anyone who is aware of your brand could have something to say about it. So, cast your net wide! Through collecting and evaluating data such as tags and mentions across social media, you’ll have some actionable insights to improve your communication strategy.
Here are just a few ways social listening can be useful for your brand.
Why Social Listening Should be a Key Part of your Social Media Strategy
To assess the mood surrounding your brand
Use mentions to get a feel for how people are viewing and interacting with your brand. Sometimes it’s easy to assess the mood. We all remember the social media backlash that Pepsi unwittingly created with their tone-deaf Kendall Jenner ad. It was pretty easy to get a feel for the mood then 😬. But, hopefully, the way people are interacting with your brand is more nuanced – which means you have more digging to do.
By tracking mentions across social media and monitoring the use of your brand and campaign hashtags, you’ll get a clearer picture of how your brand is positioned in your industry and beyond, and hopefully pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t.
Investing in social monitoring tools such as Mention, BuzzSumo or Keyhole is a great idea if you’re a bigger brand with a budget, but there are also cheaper options out there too. Though it’s more time consuming, you can manually track hashtags and mentions using native social analytics such as Tweetdeck. You can also track your mentions across the web with Google Alerts, which is completely free.
To bring social media users into your community
Tracking mentions of your brand can help you take an active role in engaging with your audience outside of the your own social media pages. Engaging in these conversations can help you better position your brand and attract new members to your community.
Remember: DO be genuine and be helpful. DON’T try to upsell everything to everyone all the time.
Focus first of all on how you can provide value to those already talking about your brand – this could mean explaining something about your product, solving a problem for an unhappy customer, or sharing some relevant content that might interest those in the discussion. If you do this, users are more likely to follow you, engage with your content, and eventually use your product or service.
If you can provide value to users who are particularly active on social, they could end up recommending you to their network, which is free (positive) publicity for your brand! Which brings us to the next point…
To discover influencers and brand ambassadors
Wouldn’t it be great if the people talking about your brand were not only saying nice things, but saying them to a large, engaged follower base? Well, good news – that might already be happening! But you’ll only know if you monitor social mentions.
The aim should be to pinpoint potential ambassadors for your brand and reach out to them with a friendly comment or DM. Instagram is the biggest social platform for influencer marketing, with 1 billion spent last year on influencer marketing. If you want a piece of the action, it’s important to find the right influencers to work with.
One way to do this is to stay on top of Instagram mentions. Track when your account has been tagged in photos or captions and by who, and start building relationships with those already repping your brand. Iconosquare’s new mentions feed, which you can see here, makes it easy for you to do this on a daily basis. If you have an ADVANCED or AGENCY plan, you can access the feed by logging in to your Iconosquare account and selecting ‘Media’, ‘My Feeds’, and then ‘Mentions’.
Though not everyone mentioning you will be a future brand ambassador, you might be surprised how many micro-influencers are already promoting your brand for you!
This post is a great example of how social listening can help you find great brand ambassadors who are already promoting your brand, and who reflect and speak to your target audience. @reformation regrammed this pic from @minamigessel, who’s sporting one of their swimsuits, and the response speaks for itself. They listened to the feedback from their community and recently announced a new, more inclusive range of clothing in sizes 0-22.
To discover brands you can collaborate with
Look out for mentions from similar brands (not direct competitors, that point is up next!) that could be potential collaborators.
Let’s say you’re an interior design brand selling cute cushions, and you notice you’ve been tagged or mentioned in great photo shoot for a fashion campaign because, yay, your cushions were used in the shoot.
So what do you do?
You reach out and see if the fashion brand in question want to work on a campaign together!
Even if you don’t end up planning a big project, there’s always the option to feature or share each others content occasionally to utilize each others audiences and maximise your reach. Obviously, the collaboration has to be mutually beneficial, so be prepared to offer some airtime in return.
Always be picky about the brands you collaborate with though. Make sure they’re interesting to your audience, and in keeping with your own brand identity and niche.
To monitor your competitors
Stay ahead of the game by monitoring your competitors’ mentions. Knowing what the mood is around their brand and their marketing campaigns can help you understand what could also work for you and give you fresh ideas. Keeping a lookout for negative mentions can also allow you to pinpoint the mistakes they’re making, and stop you from making the same ones!
Tools like Mention let you create a dashboard where you can monitor competitors’ mentions and apply direct filters so you can focus in on particular topics of conversation. But just like when you’re monitoring your own mentions, you can also track your competitors brand hashtags with native insights, or if your focus is on Instagram, with Iconosquare’s mention feed.
For more insights into your competitor’s performance on Instagram and Facebook, including tag usage, follower/fans growth and posting times, check out Iconosquare’s Competitors feature (available on PRO and ADVANCED plans).
If you’re willing to listen, there’s a lot you can learn! Make the most of the information out there to inform your social media strategy and develop your brand so that it really speaks to your audience.
Are you already using social listening? How has it helped you develop your strategy? Leave a comment and let us know!