Social listening is an invaluable tactic for any digital marketer. It allows you to tune in to the conversations your customers are having about your brand, providing insight that can be incorporated into your marketing strategy.

From social media banter to blog comments, there’s a treasure trove of audience data just waiting to be uncovered online. The beauty in this data is that it’s organic, voluntary user data. Think of it as a self-formed focus group composed of current and potential customers who are all clamoring to deliver feedback.

This information is extremely powerful when wielded properly. In this blog post, we’ll explain exactly what you should be listening for when monitoring your brand’s digital channels and how to use that information to better your brand.

Trends in Negative Comments

If you start seeing the same negative comments about your brand over and over, it’s time to take action. Strong trends in negative feedback indicate systemic issues, not just opinions. For example, if you notice an influx of users commenting on a difficult sign-in experience after your new software update, you have a serious UX problem on your hands.

Your responsibility, as a social listener, is to identify these problems and make sure they’re addressed both internally and publicly; first by alerting the appropriate team members who can fix the issue and then by ensuring a prompt response to the consumer. Keep in mind that 72% of people who complain to a brand on Twitter expect a response in under an hour, meaning fast action is key.

By closely monitoring and responding to negative comments online, you can mitigate problems as they arise, rather than waiting for them to grow into massive complications that affect more customers – and your reputation.

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High Content Engagement

If you see higher than average engagement on a piece of content, investigate the reason behind it. Did it cause a backlash? If so, your brand may want to avoid this type of content in the future. On the other hand, if there was high engagement in the form of shares, likes and positive comments, it may illuminate a lucrative opportunity for your brand.

Elevated engagement can indicate a content gap in your industry; meaning the information is something your audience craves but doesn’t get enough of. By paying close attention to the topics that resonate with your audiences, you can gain insight and direction for your content strategy. In this way, you’ll be able to increase quality traffic and leads by producing content that hits home for your audiences.

Common Industry Bottlenecks

Online channels are a great place to identify bottlenecks experienced by your target audience. If you don’t have a product or service readily available to address these common issues, it may be time to develop one. This is especially true if it’s an issue that your competitors haven’t solved for yet. By engaging in effective social listening, you’ll help your company stay on the cutting edge of industry trends and product development.

You can even take this one step further by directly polling your audiences on what they’d like to see from your company. This is particularly helpful if your company is aiming to prioritize product development and launches. By posting a simple poll on social media, you can get a feel for your target audience’s preferences almost instantly. Now that’s customer-centric marketing.

Popular Influencers

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Another advantage to social listening is the opportunity to identify digital influencers in your space. Influencers are authorities in your industry who have a large and engaged digital following. They can be found anywhere from YouTube to Twitter, so make sure you investigate a range of channels during your research.

Once you find influencers who fit the bill, you can reach out to them about sponsorship opportunities. Sponsoring influencer content can work wonders in generating word-of-mouth referrals and establishing credibility. In fact, a study by Collective Bias reveals that 60% of people have been influenced by a blog or social media post when shopping in-store.

By leveraging influencers who your audience members already trust, you’ll be able to connect them to your brand on a deeper level.

Conversations About Competitors

Listening for conversations your target audience is having about your competitors can illuminate opportunities and weaknesses within your landscape. For instance, if you find that people are raving about your competitors’ customer service departments, it may mean that they’re dominating that aspect of the market. However, if you’re finding a series of complaints about your competitors’ cancellation fees, you may have uncovered an opportunity for your brand to leap ahead.

By gathering data about where your competition is excelling and where they’re falling behind, you can gain insight on where your brand stands in the market and how to differentiate it from the competition.

Conclusion

There are over 3 billion people on social media around the globe, with numbers growing every day. As this audience expands, it becomes increasingly essential to monitor the conversations being had about your brand online; both to improve your strategy and to foster a positive brand perception.

There are countless ways to use social listening to better your brand. Applying these insights is just the first step in turning the information available to you into decisive action. Knowledge is power, after all.

How have you been social listening? Let us know on LinkedIn!