So what is social listening? Social listening is when a company purposefully monitors social media channels for information related to their business. This can be anything from information about their brand to customer satisfaction. It is learning about your company with a purpose in mind.    

Social listening is not focused on identifying anything and everything related to your business or company. Rather, it concentrates on obtaining information directly related to improving a specific aspect of the company. You don’t want to merely acquire random information; you want to improve the direction of your business.  

Social listening is about more than just compiling information. It is about taking action based off of the information you have acquired. Social listening should always lead to action. Data without action is useless.

Social listening is about more than just compiling information. It is about taking action based off of the information you have acquired. Social listening should always lead to action. Data without action is useless. Click To Tweet

Many companies have huge databases of information at their disposal. What separates the successful ones from those with enormous potential is the successful ones are able to analyze quantitative information to make qualitative changes.

Why is Social Listening Important?

Social listening is important because it can help to provide orientation or direction for a company that is striving to improve. Perhaps the creative team has run out of ways to present new information, or maybe a competitor has started to encroach on your business and you are looking for a way to improve and stand out. Social listening done well has the ability to improve a company in whatever aspects it focuses on.  

Social listening also shows your clients you care. It shows that you are willing and wanting to make improvements and change your company because no company is perfect. By engaging in conversations, or at least listening to others, companies can show their genuine dedication to improvement.  

How to Start Social Listening

Pick a subject. Identify a weakness of your business that you want to improve. All companies have them. Then start to look for keywords associated with that topic.  Remember, it is important to be specific. Too much information will be overwhelming. The more specific your keywords, the more specific your information will be. This will be different for every company. If you are smaller, you may have to start broader until you find the right balance. Remember, if you see too much, you won’t notice anything at all.  

By searching through various social platforms and search engines, you’ll be able to find a host of information associated with the topic you selected. Don’t forget to check with common misspellings of the topic and abbreviations in order to find even more related information.  Look at Facebook reviews, Google reviews and ask your friends. Search on Twitter and Facebook to see what others are saying. 

Rewards of Social Listening

One of the rewards of social listening is understanding your competitors and the ability to identify weaknesses or competitive strengths. Knowing what makes you better or what customers dislike about your competition gives you an opportunity to stake a claim or differentiate. You can find complaints about them and seek to make their weaknesses into your strengths.  

However, it doesn’t always have to involve a competitor. It can also be you taking advantage of what you already have and strengthening one aspect of your company through newly acquired knowledge. Because social listening is not just about noticing a trend or tendency in the world. It’s about learning the why and then making changes based on what you’ve learned.  

Let’s consider a fictional example. Say you own a fast food restaurant. You notice that every Tuesday night, five or six sweaty boys come in to buy drinks and hang out. Well, through your social listening skills, you learn that there are soccer games nearby every Tuesday night, and these boys come over immediately after finishing.  

What would you do? How would your sales increase if you advertised directly to them?  Could you run a Tuesday night special? Maybe free fries with the purchase of a drink? Your sales could increase not only Tuesday nights, but you might even be able to acquire more long-term customers as they bring their friends. This would be a great opportunity, but one that would only become available if you are able to exercise social listening.  

In this example, few factors changed. The boys had already been coming to the restaurant. The restaurant was still making decent money. What changed was the store realized why the boys were coming and were able to use that knowledge to their advantage. That is a prime example of how social listening can make a difference.  

Social Listening: Who do I listen to?

Social listening should be done to two different groups: your customers, and your potential customers. Done properly, you can learn all sorts of information about your customer base. You can learn useful demographic information that will enable you to be more successful. Consider the following: how would it change your company and the way you market if you knew (fill in the blank) about your customer?

  • Age
  • Profession
  • Gender

Big differences are made by understanding your customer base.  

Social Listening: Bringing It All Together

In summary, social listening is as useful as you make it. Without application, social listening is just another form of compiling data. It is unproductive and immensely time-consuming. However, done right, it can mean the difference between success and failure as a company.  

When thinking of the impact of social listening, hopefully, we can remember the adage, “knowledge is power” in our businesses. Knowledge allows us to make better decisions that will benefit our companies. And what is one of the premier methods of acquiring knowledge? Yup, you got it.  Social listening.