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Taking the Mystery Out of Social Listening

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Dodgeball seo social listening blog

Everything You Need to Know to Gather Intel on Your Consumers, Competitors, and More

How would you like to keep track of your buyers and other businesses in your industry?

It may be easier than you think.

Social listening is a marketing tactic that can help you gather intel on your competitors and people in your customer base, stay on top of industry trends and find out who is talking about what.

It’s a tactic woefully underused by marketers because most don’t understand it.

Here is how to max out your use of social listening so you can take your marketing and communication campaigns to the next level.

Social Listening: The Basics

A lot of data is currently available for marketers to find and analyze through social listening. Only eight percent of brands are using the tactic according to a report by Socialbakers. This could give marketers who adopt social listening now a real leg up on their competitors in the future.

Social listening allows marketers to monitor social media channels, forums, websites, and more for mentions about things they want to find out about. This can include brands, products, services, topics, persons, industries, and companies, including your competition.

Tailored query strings are used to monitor these things through specialized tools like Brandwatch, Socialbakers, and Falcon. Coupled with some human research, they can provide you with a lot of intel.

A marketer who uses social listening in creative ways can:

  • Find out what consumers think and feel about topics, trends, brands, news, and more.

  • Identify influencers and thought leaders and find out what they’re talking about.

  • Gather information to improve your content and marketing campaigns.

  • Learn about competitors.

  • Stay ahead of industry and marketplace trends.

Think about the impact knowing these things could have on your marketing and communication efforts.

Use Social Listening to Learn About the People in Your Target Audience

As a marketer, you probably make assumptions about the consumers you’re trying to connect with all the time. But are they true?

Social listening can help you know for certain.

You can leverage a social listening tool to collect social media content that matches keywords, parameters, and criteria that you choose. You can leverage the information collected to create a clear and current picture of the people and businesses in your consumer base. You can find out about:

  • Topics they’re interested in.

  • What they’re talking about.

  • The content they share.

  • The things they engage with.

  • What they think about your business.

  • How they feel about your competitors.

  • And much more.

Perhaps even more important, you’ll also see what they’re not interested in or talking about.

Having this three dimensional timely picture of the people you market to is certainly more valuable than an out of date — and mostly made up — consumer persona.

If you carefully work through the data, you can learn:

  • The words and phrases your consumers use.

  • Their tone of voice.

  • Level of formality or informality in their communications.

You can use this information to align your marketing and communications to match their style.

Leverage Social Listening to Stay Ahead of the Curve

The pace of change today makes it almost impossible to stay on top of industry and marketplace trends. By the time most businesses realize something is trending, it’s too late to do anything about it.

Social listening provides two ways for you to peer into the future:

  1. Build a search over a limited recent time period, a few days at most, and include industry or marketplace-related keywords and phrases. Look for changes in the usage or frequency over that time. It will give you a sense of what’s trending and what’s waning.

  2. Create a search that pulls data from respected voices and thought leaders in your industry. Doing so will allow you to see what they’re talking about and could help point the way into the future for your business.

For both of these tactics, you can turn your data into a word cloud which makes it much easier to identify trending words and phrases.

Social Listening Can Help You Differentiate Your Brand from Those of Your Competitors

Brands in many industries often look alike. They also describe their products and services in similar ways. This is particularly common in the financial services, medical, legal, and software sectors.

Social listening can help you find ways to break through the sea of sameness.

  • Use it to create word clouds for your brand and those of your competitors. It makes it easy to see similarities and differences in how they present themselves.

  • Collect social media data from your competitors. It will help you see the kinds of messages and images they use, along with their brand tone and voice.

It’s likely that you’ll find gaps in the brands that you can step in to fill that will help your business stand out in the marketplace.

Social Listening Can Help You See How Your Business Stacks Up

You can use social listening to monitor your business and others in your sector to find out:

  • How often each one is mentioned in industry publications, the media, and at events, and figure out your relative share of voice.

  • Consumer response to your business versus your competitors.

  • Thought leader interactions with businesses across your industry.

All this information can be used to fine tune your marketing strategies, improve your customer service and engage with more of the leaders in your business sector.

Social Listening: The Bottom Line

We’ve only scratched the surface on what information you can collect through social listening and how you can use it. It’s a powerful marketing tactic, and it’s uses are only limited by your imagination. You owe it to yourself to see what you could learn about your competitors, customers, and so many other things.

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