The Art of Social Listening
October 13, 2015Chiara Baldanza
While everyone from Starbucks to the local corner deli are jumping on the social media bandwagon, many brands aren’t leveraging the full potential of these platforms to absorb critical consumer insights. Read on for three ways that your brand can gather more intel from social networks.
Social media profiles are becoming ubiquitous among brands. In 2015, 93% of Fortune 500 companies had an active LinkedIn page, and approximately 75% of the 500 promote themselves on Twitter or Facebook. While everyone from Starbucks to the local corner deli are jumping on the social media bandwagon, many brands aren’t leveraging the full potential of these platforms to absorb critical consumer insights. Truly savvy companies know that social listening is arguably the most valuable aspect of having a social media profile.
Here are three ways that your brand can gather more intel from social networks:
1. Listen to what consumers are saying about your competitors.
Your marketing department probably already monitors the conversations going on about your brand online, but are they tracking the kind of language used to describe your competitors? Social media is an incredible resource for gathering candid viewpoints. Negative conversations about your competitors can reveal unmet consumer needs, which translates to an opportunity for your company to gain a competitive edge. Likewise, positive feedback about competitors can tell you what consumers consider as the most important aspects of a good or service.
2. Observe how your target demographic behaves across social platforms.
Social media is a factor in many purchase decisions, so it’s important to understand how consumer behavior varies by channel. It’s more than just knowing that your company’s demographic is more active on Snapchat than Facebook. Equally important is how and when these groups are using which channels.
For instance, Gen Z is more likely to have integrated multiple social media channels into almost every activity and might crave the “second screen experience,” but Boomers tend to prefer one single social channel, and only at certain times of the day. You can’t execute an optimal social media strategy if you don’t regularly check in with the ever-changing habits of your target demographic.
3. Examine Content Preferences
Reviewing your own engagement data will help to determine your followers’ affinity towards types of content you’re already publishing, but looking internally only gives you part of the puzzle. Research what types of content your audience enjoys the most across a broad spectrum of publications and other brands. Be sure to take a comprehensive look at visuals, text, video, and audio content. You might find that your audience prefers e-books to blog posts, or storytelling photos to static infographics. If you don’t take the time look outside your own content stream, you can’t build a complete picture of what your audience wants to see, read, watch, and hear.
Social listening is a hugely undervalued tool for brands, but it can only get you so far if you have yet to identify your target market. Once offline behavior and general consumer profiles help you to hone in on the consumer segments that matter most to you, social media platforms offer a gold mine of behavioral trends to explore. By participating in social listening, you will keep a finger on the pulse of evolving preferences and will be better able to meet the needs of the consumer. Trust me, they want you to tune in.