social media listening

The capability to listen to social media is no longer a niche capability for organizations but a necessity to understand customers’ perception of their brands online.

Listening is hard. Social Listening is even harder!

Do you like to people watch? If so, then you could compare social listening to the people watching equivalent of the internet. And if you really focus, social listening offers you, the brand marketer, some real insight and action that you would otherwise never have the chance to know.

Five years ago, when social media listening was in its inception, it was a simple process of gathering text data in which a brand was explicitly mentioned. This was followed by analysis by agencies or in-house analytics teams. Fast forward to 2018…of course it is much more in depth now: a variety of data, number of platforms, increased customer awareness and customers’ expectations from the brand, to name a few.

Money spent on digital advertising beat TV spending for the first time in 2017, and the gap is about to get wider. It is expected that by 2020, digital spend would be equal to all the other media spend combined. So, what does it mean for social media listening and social data analytics? Read on, social media managers, if you want to take social listening efforts to the next level.

Don’t listen just to your customers or competitors. It’s not just about YOUR customers, it’s about YOUR CUSTOMERS WORLD. Listen to everyone in it for the real insights…including your competitors, their followers, their partners, and product reviews platforms. Listen also, to what’s happening with these prospects on non-competing forums. For example, if you sell grills and your target demographic is male, 30-50, then you could listen to them on your site as well as competitor sites – and all they have to say about grills. But it would also benefit you to listen to them on fitness and health pages, travel pages and all other pages that are of interest to them (try tracking the right hashtags). The secret is…knowing your prospect better than anyone else!

Know What and Why. Sure – it’s important to know the WHATs – how many followers, shares, forwards and comments etc. But it’s also important to know the WHYs and the patterns. If something goes viral, you need to understand why it went viral. What were the reasons behind it, and try to recreate that in whatever format is authentic to your brand.  Track the patterns – is there a pattern to when people share certain kinds of posts, is there a pattern to the kind of posts that don’t elicit any engagement at all, etc. Go beyond number of clicks to who is clicking and why.


social media research

Know the difference between social media listening and social media monitoring. Monitoring is a more objective tracking of the metrics and facts. Listening can involve gauging the mood, the vibe or the sentiment behind the general discussions and convert it into an actionable insight.


Don’t miss sales opportunities. Social media can be used for more effective marketing, research and customer care. But what about sales? Put a process in place to link social listening to social selling: social media can prove to be a valuable source of leads – if you listen! It’s about knowing what competitors they already follow and communicate with; seeking signals from their conversations and leveraging the right pitch and content based on those insights.


Trust the experts. In the social media context, there are now several added layers of complexity – over and above the millions of tracking points including your brand mentions, competitor mentions, keyword mentions etc. You need to track, monitor and analyze visual media – gifs, memes, photos. Then, there are multiple languages to communicate in, on the same platform. Social media listening tools and platforms not just track the numbers, they also track the sentiments, the nuances and the attributes that matter, and turn it into actionable insights. With machine learning in the mix, you stand an even better chance of converting social media listening into a successful branding tool.


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