What Is Social Listening
Social listening is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing today. It’s also an integral part of our efforts to utilize marketing technology and AI to solve business challenges and drive growth. Social listening tools allow you to monitor conversations about your brand or industry, identify influencers and trends and ultimately reach your target audience. It also allows you to monitor competitors and understand conversations at different stages of the sales cycle.
We recently used an AI-based program, Mentionlytics, for two clients’ social listening programs. These valuable programs help companies understand what conversations are being had about the products and services they offer and on which channels.
Often times a company or brand voice is simply talking “at” its audience instead of engaging them in educational, trending or useful information that will help draw in the potential customer. By missing this critical step of social listening, most companies are focusing on the end of the sales funnel instead of building brand awareness and engagement on the topics with existing consumer interest.
Social listening is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay on top of the latest trends to ensure your efforts are effective and relevant. Read on to learn more about social listening tools and trends that will be especially important in 2023.
Social Listening Tools
Here are just a few of the many social listening tools that are easy to use when creating a sales funnel strategy.
Mentionlytics is ideal for startups and small-to-midsized businesses. This tool tracks mentions for your brand, product or competitors across the web and most social media platforms.
HubSpot allows you to monitor interactions, conversations and audiences across social media channels. The integrated customer relationship management (CRM) tools allow you to target specific audiences from a database of contacts. HubSpot also monitors current and trending keywords on Twitter based on selected keywords relevant to your business.
Sprout Social is a comprehensive social media management platform that provides social listening, in addition to analytics and automation. Sprout Social can also be integrated with HubSpot to integrate social reports in one place.
Hootsuite is a powerhouse tool for tracking influencers and leads in lists that can be imported or shared. This tool allows you to view and respond to messages, comments and brand mentions in real-time, all in one dashboard.
Buffer is a free tool used for scheduling and planning social media campaigns. It can be integrated with other social media platforms and used to measure audience engagement.
BuzzSumo gives you analytics for Facebook posts, including impressions and shares. This tool also tells ideal times of day and days of the week to post as well as ideal post length.
Agorapulse is a free social media management software tool for social listening and analytics. It pulls all messages from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube into one unified inbox for a timely response.
Successful Social Listening Programs
JSMM completed programs for two clients in the home services industry — one that focuses on solar installation and one that deals with appliance repair. We researched social listening platforms to cater to our client’s key outcomes and made recommendations to grow their digital marketing programs.
What we did:
- Monitored consumer conversations across social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google
- Evaluated the consumer sentiment toward competitor businesses
- Analyzed high-level trends on the web using UberSuggest
- Identified top themes/topics of high-engagement posts on social media using Mentionlytics
Findings on consumer conversations by platform:
- Facebook — Consumer conversation is primarily focused on specific solar brands and questions about solar products.
- Instagram — This platform has the highest rate of engagement and the widest variety of topics related to green living and sustainable living. Users are environmentally conscious buyers seeking product information. Consumers are also seeking aspirational content and ideas for their homes.
- Twitter — Organic conversations dominate the platform surrounding green living and sustainable living. However, keywords on solar power are the lowest on this platform. Consumers are typically not using this platform to share ideas for the home, but they are interacting with companies and expecting timely customer service responses.
- Tik Tok — This is the most impactful platform for engaging the younger buyer who is seeking opinions and tips in bite-sized videos. Conversation within comments is the least brand-focused and most organic.
What is Social Search?
Another way to identify customers and their interests at the front of the sales cycle is through social search. It differs from traditional search in that it uses different methods, such as hashtags, keywords and location tags. Social search helps you find content based on personal interests such as hobbies or brands you like. For example, if you’re interested in fashion and want to know more about the latest trends in clothing styles, you can use social media to find those answers without having to visit a website or type “fashion trends” into a search engine.
Social media has evolved into a huge part of our lives. According to a Pew Research Center study released in 2020, 71% of adults in America get at least some news from social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook weekly — and nearly half do so daily.
Despite its popularity among consumers worldwide — and businesses who harness its potential — there are still many limitations surrounding what types of questions can be answered using this method alone due to varying standards related specifically to each platform. For example, Twitter currently only allows 280 characters per post. This limitation causes frustration among those who are desperately looking for answers but are unable to find them because searches sometimes yield too much noise instead.
Social Listening and Industry Disruption
Social listening is no longer just a marketing tool, it’s an essential business process. The way we listen to and engage with social media is changing. In the last few years, social media has become more integrated into every aspect of our lives than ever before — social listening tools are becoming more advanced and easier to use, making them accessible to everyone in your organization.
With this expansion comes a shift in how we approach social listening. What was once considered an afterthought or “nice-to-have” has become an essential part of your overall strategy for engaging with customers at every touchpoint possible.
Social Media Automation
Automation is the process of using software to complete tasks that might otherwise require human intervention. It’s one of the latest buzzwords, and it’s already been used in a variety of fields and contexts — from data science to healthcare, marketing and beyond.
In social listening, automation can be used for two main purposes: data extraction and analysis. While many tools (like Sprout Social) are capable of performing both tasks, others (like Hootsuite or Buffer) specialize in one area or another.
Learn how to use automation effectively by asking yourself these questions:
- What type of information do I need?
- How frequently do I need it?
- What resources do I have available?
Voice-Based Social Listening
As the world becomes more voice-enabled, you’re going to see your social listening strategy transform. In fact, it’s already happening — and you can see the potential in this new kind of listening by looking at how Alexa has changed the way we interact with our devices.
In addition to its ability to answer questions and perform tasks, Alexa has now become a personal assistant who can also help users when they need it most. For example, if a user is trying to find something fun for their grandkid on their birthday weekend but doesn’t know what they like, Alexa can suggest activities based on recent conversations about each child’s interests, such as “How about ice cream?” or “Have you been camping yet?” or “Let’s play hide-and-go-seek!” These are all things said aloud by parents during previous moments in time that have been recorded by voice assistants like Google Home — so now these devices can use those recordings as cues when responding back later!
Voice-based social listening isn’t just limited to these kinds of interactions either. It also includes any situation where people speak openly about themselves (or others) while using their phones or laptops/tablets/desktop computers. For example, the programs could listen to people talking while sitting together at work meetings, in classrooms while students take notes, in bustling restaurants or even at bars where patrons shout drink requests across the noisy room!
Social Listening Can’t Be an Afterthought
- Companies should consider social listening as a strategic process when developing their communications strategies, rather than just something they do in the background to see if there’s any chatter that might require intervention.
- Social listening is about more than monitoring conversations and responding to customers. It’s about identifying opportunities and challenges for your business, so you’re prepared with the right information when it matters most — when you need it to inform decision-making at all levels of your organization.
- Use social listening data to identify customers and competitors; understand patterns across channels; identify emerging opportunities; build new relationships with relevant influencers; pinpoint areas where you need improvement and make better decisions about marketing.
The Bottom Line
Content needs to follow a strategy. Social listening isn’t going anywhere, and it needs to be a part of your strategy. If companies are too focused on creating content and ads and designing their websites at the end of their sales funnel, they are missing all the people at the front of the sales funnel.
The analysis shows that content, platform targeting and ads need to be enhanced, broadened and designed to attract people throughout the entire sales cycle. Websites cannot be platforms where we only engage an active buyer, or we’ll lose people in the awareness, engagement/research stage.
If you don’t have the right tools in place or resources allocated, then there are serious consequences that can hurt your brand and reputation.
Contact us to learn more about social listening strategies and tools.