People talk, are you listening? Today, people are constantly talking, sharing, liking, and messaging across various social media platforms. And often, small businesses miss valuable information when they fail to listen to the conversations happening in and around their industry.
What is it?
Social listening, at its most basic level, is exactly what it sounds like: listening to what people say on social media. As we apply it to businesses, brands, and products, the definition expands a bit to add two specific aspects of listening: focus and analysis.
Two Components of Social Listening:
You can listen all day, but if you’re not listening in the right places to the right people, all that information will be useless. Identify the specific things your business or brand needs to focus on. Start large, using hashtags, keywords, and industry leaders identify the key trends and important dialogues going on in your industry. Next, look at what people are saying about you and your products. Gather data of the mentions of your brand and products across your social media channels. Then, look at your competitors, what are people saying about them? Do they have more social engagement? Better reviews? Are they meeting a market need you’re not? Finally, keep your ears open to what we’ll call ‘adjacent information’: local dialogues, relevant trends, and any other aspects of your product or brand that don’t necessarily fall directly into your previous searches.
One of the best ways to focus your listening is to identify a set of keywords that are relevant to your brand and product. For example, a plumbing company might use: #plumbing #plumber #repair #draincleaning #bathroom, and a flower shop may choose: #flowers #anniversary #roses #bouquet #florists #flowerdelivery.
If there’s a specific product, campaign, or aspect of your business you want to know about, curate keywords to give feedback for that specific need. For example, maybe a restaurant is rolling out a new menu item. They could choose specific key words related to that item and use social listening to help determine the public’s response to the new item.
All of that listening and gathering of information now has to be analyzed and leveraged to help you better reach your audience. The simplest way to analyze users’ response to your brand or product is by negative versus positive reactions. From there, you can get more specific by product, service, employee, etc. The broadest information will be your industry-wide listening. It will be less hard data (number of likes, shares, tags, direct responses to your product) and more tracking of trends and important dialogues.
Why is it important for small businesses?
Creating a marketing and social media plan without social listening is like making a high quality mountain bike stationary. The bike is built for performance, but making it stationary prevents it from doing what it was designed to do. In the same way, social listening helps propel a social media strategy to success. Social listening gives you valuable insight into how your customers and potential customers think and interact with your brand, along with helping you stay up to date with the current trends within your industry. Why does all this matter? The better you know your audience, the more effective your marketing will be. The more you are aware of industry trends, the quicker you can post and publish to establish your business as a trusted authority in the know.
*Bottom line: when you listen, you know your customers, and when you know your customers, you can more effectively market to them, and more effective marketing leads to more sales.
How do you get started?
You can do it yourself! Using search engines and social media you can search your keywords and hashtags to begin finding and aggregating the results. There are also a variety of free tools at your fingertips like Google Trends, Google Alerts, Google Analytics, Mention.com, and social media analytics (Facebook, Instagram, etc. all track your business’s analytics).
Additionally, we’d be happy to set up a social listening plan that works best for you and your business. Give us a call today (936) 637-7593.