We find that clients we talk to are frequently focused almost entirely on their outbound social media activity – content calendars, blogging, tweeting etc.
And yet there is the other side of the equation – listening to what the recipients think, say and do with the content they receive aka social listening.
This video takes you through this key concept.
So, let’s begin with a definition…
1). What is social listening?
It’s about monitoring social media platforms for conversations and insights about your organisation, your members / customers and their issues, and wider sector trends.
It acts as a check and balance on your outbound content marketing strategy.
Whilst its main function is to listen, it also provides opportunities to be proactive – for example, if your organisation is receiving unjust criticism, you can respond to set the record straight.
In fact, if a company is perceived to be aware of criticism, and does not respond, it can add fuel to the fire and further damage the reputation, but indicating that it is aware, but simply does not care.
2). Why should an organisation listen on social channels?
It’s good practice and enables you and your organisation to;-
• Hear what your members or customers are saying – flag up opportunities but also issues
• Identify key trending topics
• Spot potential influencers
• From these, refine your content marketing strategy and make it work harder for your organisation
3). How does one listen socially? (60 second video)
Keep it simple
There are many tools for social listening including free ones, so we recommend trying a few out and then settling on a core 1-3 tools. Any more than that and you’ll end up drowning in data. Always best to keep it simple to start with, and you can then scale up as the need and budget is made available.
There are free tools such as BuzzSumo.com which enables you to;-
• Keyword, video or publication search
• Filter by date eg last 24 hours up to a year
• How many times an item has been shared on social media, which is a great measure of its quality
Also socialmention.com is worth a look at – it does social media search and analysis of what people are saying about your organization – or any topic - and aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information.
It looks a bit like Google when you open it, and it’s free.
If you have the budget and the need, you might also want to look at zoomsphere.com which has a range of tools to enable monitoring, analysis, report building etc – there are some free tools but it’s you can pay for more advance tools.
And what about internally – is their a role for colleagues to play their part? (60 second video)
It’s also important that you and key colleagues are on the same social media platforms that your members / customers are on, so you can be an active contributor too.
A word of caution though – be sensitive – if someone is just airing a grievance, don’t be heavy handed – you want to be seen as a positive contributor, not the thought police!
Make sure you have some kind of system in place to;-
- Ensure you’re not all on the same platform such as Twitter but missing out on the LinkedIn conversations and;-
- Share what each team member is seeing and hearing on their platforms, so you can red flag any emerging issues, and on a positive note, trends to bring in to your own Content Marketing Strategy.
- Have a plan and agreed hierarchy of responders on stand-by to address key issues raised or answer specific questions eg subject experts – don’t simply use the Marketing team to filter responses. Make sure they are of the right seniority level too – whilst it would look good, you don’t want your CEO involved in small customer service issues.
4). What should an organisation do with the insights?
The most obvious action is to recognise what content is popular and what is not, enabling you to fine-tune your marketing activity and constantly make adjustments based on what you’re observing.
It can also help adjust any specific selling messages you’re communicating – what topics or ‘calls to action’ are working, and what’s not.
And for any new product or service you are developing, you can share your thinking as it progresses, and ask for feedback – though beware the Henry Ford example – he said if he asked his customers what they wanted, they would have asked for a faster horse.
But asking may create some interesting feedback and it has the added bonus of demonstrating that you are listening.
But also share with:
With the whole organisation
The days of marketing sitting in splendid isolation and running member / customer contact are over – we are all marketers now – or at least should all play an active role in listening to the insights that social media generates. For example, adding sound bites to a company newsletter, or sharing the highlights in team meetings.
Hopefully social listening will flag up new opportunities for product/service refinements, and, also provide a useful dashboard of threats, issues etc that members / customers are facing.
With members / customers themselves
Largely thanks to social media, the traditional outbound communications like newsletters are fading, and one to one communications pick up steam.
So if you pick up on a trend or an issue, reflect it back and ask your followers eg on Twitter if this is an issue for them too?
5). So, in conclusion?
Keep it simple
Keep it measurable
Act upon it – use it – and share it