Ad Technology

The Importance of Social Listening

By: Martin Cahill

So much of what we do in marketing and Search is geared toward execution. Making campaigns, creating content, developing tags, gauging customers or consumers or visitors, forecasting, and so on, all of it is centered around preparation, implementation, and execution. And while the great part of that execution and reporting can be focused on analyzing numerical data, a necessary and beneficial action for making further marketing decisions, adding to that should be the analysis of actual conversations happening in the space, which can enrich your analysis by observing sometimes underappreciated behavioral data. That’s the importance behind social listening. Making sure you’re observing how people are discussing your product or your site in the space is important, and still, not always a given when planning. According to the 2015 Sprout Social Index, 7 in 8 messages to brands go unanswered within 72 hours. That statistic is surprising when you consider 70% of buying experiences are based on how customers feel they’re treated. Introducing social listening into your campaign planning is a great way to not only see what your consumers are saying, but also making yourself available to constructive feedback, and chances to change.

Social listening is a term for the active monitoring of social media spaces, in order to best understand what your consumers/customers are saying about a product, a movement, your site, your content, anything! It’s a way to engage with consumers, to get to know what they like and dislike about your products or work, and work to engage with them on a personal level. It’s not enough these days to report from a distance; social listening can help you and your team get in on the ground floor, and listen to the whole conversation surrounding your work.

More than that, social listening can be a tool used to bolster and boost your site. Say you’re a relatively new site, and you need to garner some backlinks in order to rank higher? Say you’re looking to improve your website’s authority in the eyes of the various search engine’s that will determine them? Say you’re looking for new people to blog with or network with, who are experts in your field? These predicaments can all be solved with a strong social listening platform. By watching who’s conversing about you and your site, it’s easy to reach out and ask for a link with them, or possibly network for new content on your blog, which can also garner links. And the more links you can get, along with a fully stocked social media network, makes your authority stronger in the search engines rankings.

And on the flip-side, if a product isn’t as successful out of the gate, or if consumers are running into issues, social listening is a great way to pivot. You can issue a statement on a running issue. You can reach out to specific entities who may have insights into more success. You can invite writers in who may be able to illuminate why something is or isn’t working. Social listening allows you to get data, but it also allows you the chance to do something about it quickly.

Social listening requires analysis and reflection. With it, you can watch for patterns, track sentiment and draw conclusions based on where and when conversations happen. It can be phrasing in Tweetdeck to see what people are saying about a new product, or brand name. It can be scouring Instagram for unbranded term use in the space, or key social leaders that work in that unbranded territory. It could be monitoring a Facebook conversation with dissatisfied consumers, and learning on the spot, in the moment what you can do to improve their engagement. In all instances, you’re getting an in-depth, personal look at your brand, the awareness it’s generating, and people’s overall satisfaction with that brand. Just remember to track and monitor using your branded and unbranded name, since some people forget to include it!

All of this isn’t to say that Google Analytics is for the birds, and you should spend the rest of your days on Twitter. But there is a benefit to setting up social media accounts, and making sure you have the space, time, and wherewithal to engage with your consumers on a personal level. Remember: all the best content and products in the world won’t mean anything if you don’t listen to what your consumers are saying they want. That’s when you can get to work.