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social listening

What is social listening?

Social listening is one of the best ways you can gain deep insights into your customers. Social media platforms are a gold mine of information that you can utilize to better your brand, product, and customer experience. In fact, it has some of the most valuable data to build better relationships with your customers, in-turn helping you build a better business.

But what exactly is social listening, and how can you utilize it to your advantage?

Social listening: what is it?

All too often as marketers or brand owners, we’re making decisions based on guessing what our customers want. We prioritise making tactical decisions over strategic ones backed by data. The reason that most people do this is because conversations on the internet produce massive amounts of unstructured data which may be intimidating to digest. Cue: social listening.

As Hubspot describes it, “social listening is the monitoring of your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities”.

Social listening is a lot more than just monitoring your social media channels. It’s about listening to the data and then acting on it. It’s how you gain insights into what your customers are saying about your brand, competitors, and areas of interest, and then digest that information in such a way that will benefit your business.

How does it help your business?

1) Brand sentiment analysis

Through social listening, you can take a deep dive into what your customers are saying about you online, but most importantly, how they feel about your brand. You’ll gain understanding of the emotions consumers have for or against your brand as well as the distinctive qualities and features that catch their interest. This may force you to reconsider your presumptions and result in much more focused marketing.

2) Competitor analysis

Social listening is more than just about how your customers feel about you. You can use it as a tool to gain insights into how your market feels about your competition and industry as a whole. For example, you can find out what new product launches they have coming up and whether they were successful or not. By analysing the conversations, you may find a gap within the marketplace that you could fill.

3) Product development

Since social listening gives you insight into what your customers are saying about you as well as the industry, it can help you better understand the behaviour of your customers and how you should develop and market your products. By analyzing the conversations online, you will gain insight into what those in your niche want, how they feel about specific products that are similar to yours, and more importantly which topics will be most beneficial to help drive your business forward.

How to start

Social listening doesn’t have to be trivial. You can systemise the process to make it easy to complete by following these steps:

  1. Choose a social listening tool: there are many tools out there that have been designed to facilitate the process. These tools will help you synthesize all the data so it makes sense.
  2. Define your goals: Before starting, define your goals clearly so you know exactly what data is of interest to you.
  3. Decide which data sources to go after: It may be tempting to look at a broad range of platforms, but it’s better to hone in on the ones where your customers are having conversations.
  4. Choose your topics clearly: brainstorm the types of topics that your niche is interested in. This will help you get relevant data.
  5. And finally, analyse!

All too often, companies choose to forego the data and instead make decisions based on guessing what the public wants or being guided by short-term situations. By including social listening as part of your strategy, you can really step inside the shoes of your customer and use it to your advantage.

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