How Companies Can Connect With Customers Using Social Listening

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    Guest Blogger

  • Published

    Aug, 29, 2023

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Social listening has become an invaluable tool for companies looking to connect with customers in real time. By monitoring social platforms and analyzing data around customer conversations, brands can gain powerful insights into their audience’s preferences, pain points, and desires. This opens up new opportunities to directly engage with customers, improve products and services, and refine messaging and branding to align with what really resonates.

💡 Read Social Listening Guide: Proven Hacks, Strategies, and Tools

But how can companies leverage social listening to foster meaningful connections with their target audience? We’ll examine how to listen across the social landscape, identify key themes and trends, engage with customers, and use those insights to evolve their business.

5 steps of the social listening journey: monitoring social media, collecting data, analyzing data, understanding insights, taking action
Key steps of the social listening journey

Listen to Customers Across Platforms

The first critical step in leveraging social listening is to cast a wide net across the social landscape to track relevant conversations. While it’s impossible to track every platform, there are a few key ones brands should be sure to include:

  • Twitter: This platform sees over 500 million tweets per day. It’s ideal for real-time monitoring of trends, complaints, questions and feedback. Set up searches for your brand handle, product names, competitors and relevant keywords and phrases to get a pulse on what people are saying.
  • Instagram: Given it is visual by nature, Instagram is ideal for monitoring brand sentiment and responses to things like new product launches or ad campaigns. Look for user-generated content about your offerings. For example, Determ’s media monitoring software enables you to learn how sentiments around your brand change or compare to competitors over time.
  • Facebook: With billions of active users, Facebook remains a goldmine for consumer insights. Follow relevant groups where your audience is likely engaging and participating. You can also run searches within Facebook for mentions of your brand.

Beyond the major players, take time to identify niche platforms where your audience is vocal. These could include review sites, forums, Reddit subs, or anywhere with active user discussions. The goal is to go beyond surface-level data and truly immerse yourself in your customers’ conversations. Utilizing social listening software makes it possible to monitor and analyze data from all these platforms in one place. The right tools will allow you to set up custom searches and dashboards, enable deep listening across platforms, and derive actionable insights from the data.

Engage in Meaningful Interactions

Social listening also allows brands to engage directly with current or potential customers by joining the conversation. Companies should respond to questions and offer advice to customers discussing their brand on social media. It’s these meaningful interactions which humanize your brand and foster positive, personal connections. Companies can even use social listening tools to identify key influencers or advocates and reach out to them. Even just a like, share, or reply to customers from a brand can make a customer feel heard and appreciated, which helps build loyalty and trust.

Once you’ve identified key consumer conversations through social listening, it’s time to move from passive listening to active engagement. Implementing thoughtful interactions enable you to turn customers into partners and collaborators, so businesses need to look for opportunities to add value to discussions their audiences are already having. This might be in the form of sharing valuable resources and insights, for example, without focusing on the promotion of the brand. Ultimately, your engagement should align with the conversations already happening but it should also be authentic. Try to avoid overly promotional language and make it about the customer. 

the differences between social media monitoring and social listening
Companies can find ways to connect with customers using social listening and predict future outcomes.

Define Your Goals and Metrics

Effective social listening starts with clearly identifying your goals. Are you hoping to improve customer service? Check brand reputation? Uncover consumer insights? The use cases are vast, so focus on your specific aims before determining what data to collect. Start by assembling key stakeholders to align on concrete goals. For example, marketing teams may want to track campaign performance while sales want to monitor industry conversations during an expansion. Prioritizing goals will help focus your listening strategy.

Next, determine which metrics you need to track progress for each goal. If brand awareness is the goal, relevant data points could include brand mentions, hashtag volume or follower growth. For customer service, useful metrics may be response times, sentiment, resolved cases, and satisfaction.

Make sure to tap directly into the expertise of teams who will be utilizing the data. Customer service reps can share common pain points and questions to monitor, while campaign managers can advise on important performance indicators. When stakeholders help define metrics, the data will provide maximum value. With clear goals and metrics established upfront, you can hone in on the conversations and data points that matter most. This focused approach ensures your social listening activities drive measurable results. 

Once you’ve begun monitoring relevant social conversations, it’s time to dive into analyzing the incoming data. Don’t just passively read reports but actually spend time extracting strategic insights you can act on. Use built-in analytics tools to visualize topic volumes, sentiment levels, and engagement metrics, and examine how conversations ebb and flow over time, noticing meaningful changes or spikes. You may uncover rising complaints, shifting perceptions, new opportunities, or changes in what resonates most.

Go beyond surface-level data by segmenting and filtering to unveil deeper insights; compare conversations across locations, platforms, demographics, and time periods. It’s worth designating specific team members to become in-house data analysts, as this process requires human pattern recognition and critical thinking. Their goal is to surface key themes, tell stories from the data, and translate insights into strategic recommendations. Thorough analysis will identify pain points to address, features to improve, and trends to capitalize on. Turn listening into action to provide real value to your customers.

Comparing results from the different platforms is important to can connect with customers using social listening

Use Insights to Improve Your Messaging

One of the biggest benefits of social listening is the ability to tap into genuine customer conversations to gain insights that can drive evolution and improvement across your business. Rather than relying on internal assumptions, you can connect with customers using social listening through the direct feedback and discussions happening online. 

For example, product teams can keep a pulse on customer feature requests, pain points, and ideas for innovation. By constantly monitoring social channels, you gain an endless focus group providing guidance on how to refine existing products and which new offerings they want to see next. Marketing professionals can also analyze the specific language and words customers use to describe products to shape messaging.

Customer service teams can utilize social listening to identify systemic issues causing frustration and common questions popping up. This enables them to proactively resolve problems and update help documentation where needed. Since customers will voice complaints publicly before contacting companies, listening empowers brands to proactively identify and address issues faster.

Beyond products and service, social conversations contain a wealth of data to optimize marketing campaigns. Social teams can gauge reactions to different types of content, creatives, and messaging to see what resonates most. Listening also fuels data-driven persona development reflecting the true motivations and needs of each audience. Ultimately, social listening allows every aspect of your business to tap into the voice of the customer like never before. By constantly tuning in and evolving based on this external signal, companies can cultivate brand loyalty and thriving communities.

To Conclude

Social listening provides a valuable way for brands to tap into authentic customer conversations and turn them into actionable insights. By taking the time to monitor key platforms, analyze data, identify trends, and respond with improvements, companies can foster real connections with their audience. The conversations happening online offer a wealth of insights that can help brands improve products, refine messaging, address concerns, and give customers what they want. Listening provides a powerful competitive advantage in today’s data-driven landscape.

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