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Remember when our parents used to tell us it was rude to eavesdrop on other people’s conversation?
On social media, it’s not.
Today, people want brands to reach out to them in a different manner. They want a contact that is based on empathy and sincere interest in an individual.
Here’s the thing, your audience is used to advertisements. In fact, people are completely immune to them. What worked a few years ago will not work today.
Ladies and gentlemen, that is why social listening is one of the most vital marketing practices today!
What is social listening/online reputation management?
In essence, social listening is about following and observing online conversations. It’s online reputation management through listening to other people’s feedback, conversations, questions, comments – basically anything that’s relevant to your business.
Social listening doesn’t have to be limited to just your brand or monitoring mentions. It’s about watching what people say and reacting to it appropriately.
You’re eavesdropping and responding to conversations that are relevant to your company.
Paying attention to what people say is of particular importance. Today’s generation does not just use the internet; we are permanently online. Everyone, it seems, eats, sleeps, and breathes social media.
We go to all sorts of the social platforms to express our expectations, joy, disappointment or surprise.
Why does social listening matter to your business?
There are countless reasons why social listening matters. Here are some of the most important ones
Customer service: By paying attention to what customers are saying about your brand on social media, you can jump in to remedy situations if required. It’s an important online reputation management method for businesses.
Get feedback: Social listening can also help you get feedback on your products and services. What do people love or hate? What features do they think would help?
Generate leads: We all want leads too, right?! Social listening can help you get more leads through recognizing your audience’s demands, asking them about it, etc.
How to Get Started on Social Listening
If you’re new to social listening, it can be a daunting task to get started. I know, I’ve been there.
Here’s how you can start.
1. Set your goals
Social listening is a versatile process that focuses on what you need the most. To begin, start with a goal. Earlier in the post, I gave you a few reasons on why social listening is important.
How is it important to YOUR company?
Are you promoting your brand, your products, or a particular function? Or maybe getting in touch with existing customers, establishing new relationships with the potential ones on a daily basis? Finding out what features customers like and dislike in your competitors, to improve your marketing strategy?
All of that and more is within your reach as long as you specify your priority. Before you start dealing with social listening, figure out your goals – what is necessary for your brand to grow, to pursue transparent and effective communication, the primary purpose of your actions can’t be overshadowed by the information overload that will certainly occur.
Here’s a quick checklist of what you may need once you’ve figured out your goals:
Your own brand’s name. This includes your brand’s name when it’s misspelled; when it’s added extra space; and when it’s without any space.
Your competitors’ names. Again, this includes misspellings, extra space, and without space.
Brand-Adjacent Terms: Key terms your customers use alongside your brand when posting on social media.
Phrases or keywords.
2. Tailor the appropriate tools
As you perfectly know, social listening refers to ‘listening to the internet.’ And by saying ‘the internet’, I mean the whole of it.
Of course, theoretically, you could do it manually, but hardly anyone would have an extra week or more to do that.
The good news is, many online reputation management tools can help you with that and save you a lot of time.
If you’re looking for a solution that is free and available for your online reputation management. Google Alerts is an option. This tool provides you with mentions, but only in the form of a text source information (you might also take a look at Google Trends for that).
If you care about the exact results, you may want to consider going for an advanced and paid tool. Brand24 could be the perfect solution for you. Brand24 first will show you the reach of your mentions based on the influence score.
Buzzsumo is another great platform, what it does it point out the most popular online articles related to the topic that is interesting or relevant to you.
3. React fast
On social media, every single minute or second counts. If you want to take your online reputation management serious you’d need to adjust and keep up. For some brands, a rapid response is not only a matter of convenience. It’s often crucial for the safety of their brand image. Timely response is essential.
According to a study conducted by Edison Research, 42% of consumers who attempt to contact a brand expect a response within 60 minutes, 32% expect one within 30 minutes!
KLM knows this, and they respond in 20 minutes. They proudly display that on their Twitter cover too. They even update the cover every five minutes so you know how quickly you’ll hear from them.
People are impressed when brands respond fast. When your audience see your response is quick, they get to not only like you, but they also put trust in you. In fact, they would share their experience with their friends.
By showing that you keep an eye on everything, you demonstrate your alertness and indicate that your users can count on you in case they need you. Of course, this is a tremendous asset.
But it also requires significant commitment, working weekends and possibly beyond the standard 9-to-5. The effort, however, will certainly pay off and can be worth more than a million-dollar advertising campaign.
4. Identify influencers
With social listening, you can identify not only the most active people in your industry but also the most influential ones.
The social listening and online reputation management tools will show you where and how often the opinion leaders share their thoughts. Furthermore, you’ll be able to see the reach that they achieve.
Social listening tools also allow you to specify exactly the rank of an expert you are dealing with. It is important to know that not only the ones with more than 100,000 followers are worth your attention.
Think about it. A partnership with a local expert that effectively reaches a particular target group can bring mutual benefits (at times, even greater than when working with a well-known influencer). People trust in the testimonials of their friends, but they also trust opinion leaders.
5. Track conversations about your competitors
Remember I mentioned about eavesdropping? I also referred to the importance of writing down competitors’ names earlier too.
When you don’t pay attention to what your audience is saying, you’re giving vital information to your competitors. Ouch!
And it’s likely your competitors are already doing this, whether you are or not.
Listening to what others are saying about you or your niche simply isn’t enough. You need to know what people are saying about your competition as well.
There is no better source of information than to learn what features of your competitor’s product or service works well (and then you can also think of implementing something similar) and what is most complained about (so like a knight on a white horse, you can help a person in need).
Some companies can see the bigger picture and recognize the importance of environmental observations. Believe me; a single action can do much more than just acquiring a new customer. It can make everyone talk about you. All you need is social listening, swiftness, a little bit of enthusiasm and a dose of creativity.
Start monitoring what people are saying, how your competitors are responding, what they are doing on the internet, basically any information that gives you insights.
So simple and so crucial! There is a research on the underlying potential in listening to the prospective clients. From January to September 2016, the phrase “where I can buy” was mentioned more than 300,000 times and the question “Can anyone recommend” more than 100,000 times.
Brands never exploited the vast majority of them. That could have been a simple, yet effective, way of reaching the customer – after all, they were the ones asking for it! The majority of the mentions had gone to waste and remained unanswered! As you can probably guess, this attitude hasn’t changed much since September. People are constantly looking for answers and advice on what to purchase. Instead of spending a fortune on expensive advertising, you may as well listen to what people have to say.
Start listening and start responding. If you don’t, you’re leaving it potential leads on the table for your competitors.
Other than the term “where I can buy” and “Can anyone recommend,” consider listening for the terms “@competitor reviews?”, “@CompetitorA vs @CompetitorB,” and more.
The online world is a noisy and hectic place with an almost inconceivable amount of information being processed every second.
We share a whole a lot of news – daily, weekly or monthly. We want everyone to hear what we have to say and what we have to offer.
As it turns out, listening can truly be worth much more than talking.
Try it and see with your own eyes how effective social listening and online reputation management is for your business.
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