social media

What Is Social Listening? (And How You Can Use It to Gain Market Insights?)

social listening vertical

Your audience is talking about your business. But are you listening?

Social listening is the tried-and-true practice of checking your social media channels for mentions of your brand, product or services; selected keywords; or competitors.

Once you know what people are saying, you can gain insight into the issues they’re having, their feelings about your brand and the things you offer. You can understand they want to see more of in the future. Also, you can determine what’s working well and what isn’t.

You can also keep an eye on your competition. If, for instance, you discover through social listening that their customers are unhappy about their high shipping costs, you can effectively market against them by targeting their audience with free or discounted shipping offers.

Since you’re collecting all this data in real time, you’re able to immediately act on what you “hear” people saying about you and your competition.

Social listening helps you understand your audience better, provides insight about your products, services, and overall user experience (UX), alerts you to problems before they become full-scale crises and allows you to stay abreast of current marketing trends.

Do we have your attention? Here are some social listening best practices.

Best Practices for Social Listening

#1: Use the Right Tools

Sure, it’s technically possible to manually comb through all of your social channels for any mention of your brand, your competition, and any keywords you’re trying to track. But we wouldn’t advise it.

Instead, consider using the many tools out there that will do it for you.

From simple (and free!) tools like Google Alerts to paid software from trusted marketing giants like Hootsuite, Sprout Social and HubSpot, selecting the right product for your business’s needs is the first step to social listening success.

(Need help finding a social listening tool? G2 has ranked, unbiased reviews here.)

#2: Know What You’re Listening For

Knowing what people are saying about you is great. But what are you going to do with that mountain of data once you’ve collected it?

If you don’t have clear objectives, you’ll get lost in all the noise. Thus, it’s important to define exactly what it is you’re trying to gain.

Do you want to see how people feel about your brand as a whole? Or are you just trying to learn how they feel about your newly released spring line? Your objectives will determine what conversations you should eavesdrop on.

#3: Participate in the Conversation

Listening in on your audience is a great way to find out what they really think. However, don’t spend so much time with your ear to the proverbial keyhole that you forget to take part in the conversations going on around you.

Gracefully respond to mentions, especially if they’re in any way negative. Pop in on discussions and thank people for their business. Drop a helpful product link or blog post in response to a question someone poses.

By participating in conversations, you’re positioning yourself as an engaged, involved business marketer. Your audience will take notice!

It’s Time to Listen Up!

Social listening allows you to see your brand through your audience’s eyes. That unique perspective will give you plenty of insight into what people think of and want from your business. And once you know that, your job becomes a whole lot easier!

At Mischa Communications, we want to set every business up for success. Whatever challenges you’re facing, we’re here to help. You talk. We’ll listen!