Social media is becoming more than just a tool to get engagement and raise awareness for your business. As we begin to measure campaigns and analyze the metrics behind social media, our social accounts are becoming a valuable marketing research tool as well.
Social listening is the act of using social media beyond just metrics and data. It’s different from social media monitoring, which is using analytics to measure the success and progress of your accounts. Social media listening is analyzing what people are saying and using your observations to be strategic and act on what you’re hearing.
Think of it this way: Someone on Facebook is venting about how her favorite yoga studio never has a convenient class time, and commenters on her post are saying “ugh, it’s so hard to find something on my lunch break!” While you may not be a yoga studio, you’re hearing people say that they want to be able to access a service on their lunch break at work. You can use this information to tailor your offerings, your value propositions, and your strategy. Know what needs to address Social listening can open up your eyes to a need or a niche that needs to be serviced. Whether it’s people wanting to do something on their lunch break, or people complaining about the newest Sephora website overhaul, you’re gaining valuable insight to what people want and don’t want. Make sure you follow your target markets in order to ensure you’re listening to the right group. The worse thing to do would be to listen to the wrong market! Use Twitter lists to find and follow people that would be discussing the topic of your product or service. Maybe it’s dog lovers, or runners. There are tons of Facebook groups too you can be a part of, like Facebook groups about weddings and makeup. Or, follow a hashtag on Instagram! Join in or start a conversation Watching and listening on your lists or groups is really beneficial, but if you’re smart, you’ll join in on the conversation. Be an active member in the groups you find most valuable. There’s a makeup group on Facebook where girls will debate a new product, or talk about products that let them down. Imagine someone from the brands were in the group? They’d be rolling in information! You can gain a lot by being an active member and starting a conversation: What products do you use daily? What do you hate about makeup stores? People are willing to talk if you ask the right questions! If you’re savvy and can’t find a group that’s discussing the topic you’d like to listen to, start your own hashtag or group. It’s basically free market research. New opportunities You can find a lot of people on social media that may not even know you exist, but are willing to give you a try if you find them! If you see someone complaining about tinkering with their Wordpress site, and you offer web development services, why not offer them some tips? You never know – they may be in the market for a developer once they're fed up with trying it themselves and you’ll be at the top of their mind. If you have a service with something you can offer, or a product they can try, be bold on social media and address the people talking about their pain points or praise. What’s a free bootcamp class, a free drink, free advice, or a free sample to you? Chime in at the right moment and you can be surprised at what comes your way. The moral of the story is that metrics and numbers can only get you so far. If you’re willing to put reason and emotions behind the data, you’ll open up a world of possibilities. Don’t just use social media as a platform to speak, use it as a platform to listen.