Marketers have a tendency to shout from the rooftops to get the attention of potential customers to their products or services. Excessive use of promotions in advertising can become overpowering and appear pushy or gimmicky. We know from experience that most people don’t want to be shouted at. Instead, people want an authentic relationship. Marketers need to shift their thinking from tricks and gimmicks to social listening.
The beginning of social listening
Traditionally, people were limited to verbal or printed communication to share their thoughts and ideas. With the advent of the internet, the channels of communication were cracked wide open. As the internet gained more user traction, people began connecting with others online through blogs or commenting on articles. These became some of the first forms of social media.
Then, in 2006 Facebook and Twitter began to flood with conversations and social chatter. As more and more people used these platforms, it became apparent that communication was evolving through social media. There is a notion among marketers that customers took control of marketing messages with the onset of social media. The fact of the matter is, customers have always had control of the message. Before social media, marketers weren’t able to hear what customers were saying. Now marketers can be a part of the conversation with active social listening and timely meaningful response.
When a person talks, they intend for another person to listen. Customers have always shared their opinions about the products or services provided. Now with social media and the flood of information online, there has never been a more clear frequency to hear what customers have to say about you and your industry.
How to make social listening effective
Do you make your brand position clear by generating relevant and attractive content? Are comments about your brand showing that people understand your brand’s message and values? Do the comments made promote your brand or do they detract? Do you respond to all mentions, comments or questions posted in a timely manner?
Asking yourself these types of questions will help you be more in-tune to what your customers are saying. Social listening gives your real-time, continuous feedback. Paying attention to this feedback is vital.
With so many streams of communication, it seems daunting to sift out relevant information from the unnecessary noise. Here are a few tips that can help you stay on top of the conversations about your brand.
- Start off by monitoring your social mentions. Whenever someone reaches out to you directly on social media, they often reference your username. For example, ANS uses @ansinsights. However, someone may mention us with “ANS” or “American Name Services” or another variation. Watch your notifications for all mentions and be sure to respond timely and in a professional manner.
- Think broadly when you set up your social listening. You don’t want to miss out on lost opportunities by excluding keywords and phrases that are relevant to your industry, but not specifically your brand. “You wouldn’t walk into a party and only join conversations about you” (Quote by Simon Kemp, @eskimon)
- Use a social listening service provider. You can start out by connecting your twitter page with Twitter’s Tweetdeck. SocialMention.com and Google Alerts are other social listening tools you may find helpful. You may also consider using a more inclusive social listening tool such as HootSuite, Zoho, or Sprout. Most social listening tools are not free, but many of them offer a free trial period. Try one out—if it’s not providing you value, then you can cancel and reevaluate.
The above tips will help you set up what you need for social listening, but you will need to put in daily effort to monitor your brand. Hearing your customers through social listening will set you apart from your competition and build a long-lasting relationship with your clientele.
By Michael Peterson, Social Media Marketer at American Name Services
—Knowing what your customers are saying about you is powerful insight for decisions, but having the customers to listen to in the first place can be a challenge. If you are struggling to build your social following or your customer portfolio contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.