Five best practices for effective social listening

Mon 30 Sep 2019

Implementing the listening and processes is only the start, however. The real benefits will be reaped over the longer term.

Rohan Naseem

“Social listening” is an essential tool for understanding your customers and their perception of your brand. Its ultimate purpose is to help the company identify areas for innovation and improvement.
Here are five keys to getting the most out of your “social listening” activity.

1. Define your social listening scope

Effective social listening must above all be representative of your existing and potential customers.

Before you begin, decide what you want to listen for: list the keywords and topics that you want to detect and monitor. These typically include:

  • Your brand name and the various names with which web users refer to you and your aliases
  • Names of your products/services
  • Brand names, product/service names and your competitors’ brands
  • Buzzwords relevant to your business
  • Your slogan and those of your competitors
  • Names of key employees of your company and your competitors (CEO, etc.).
  • Campaign names or keywords
  • Your brand hashtags and those of your competitors
  • Non brand-related hashtags relevant to your activity sector

Really put yourself in the consumer’s position: also monitor misspelled versions and frequently used abbreviations of the above terms.

The keywords and topics that you monitor are likely to change over time. Using social listening tools, you will learn what types of words people tend to use when talking about your company and your activity sector. You will also begin to get an idea of the types of information most useful to you.

2. Select which social media to monitor

It is important to have a broad-based listening activity, spanning multiple social media networks.

You may well notice that conversations relating to your business are not the same on different social media. It is therefore useful to identify the social media network on which people talk about you most, in order to focus your efforts on that network.

Once you have identified this network, you will be able to develop an appropriate strategy to join the conversation, through natural engagement and via targeted advertising.

3. Analyze what the competition is doing

When communicating via social media, it is crucial to avoid doing the same thing as your competitors. That would be the best way to create negative feedback, AKA “bad buzz”.

You should analyze your competitors’ “good buzz” while also watching out for their missteps. Identifying mechanisms that proved effective – and those that did not – will be a source of inspiration for new PR ideas.

4. Use and interpret the data

Without your engagement and your voice, you would simply be performing market watch, not social listening!

Social listening does not exist just to measure the effect of campaigns or engagement. Its higher purpose is to enable you to address needs and dissatisfaction expressed by your existing and potential customers.

Always bear in mind that a social listening manager and a community manager do not have the same mission. The social listening manager is there to analyze both current and future trends. This will ensure that your strategy remains effective over time.

After spending some time listening to the web, you will become familiar with the conversations and sentiment associated with your brand. You must be highly attuned to any changes. Major shifts in engagement or sentiment can be an indicator that the overall perception of your brand is changing. Social listening will empower you to understand such phenomena and adapt your brand strategy in real-time.

5. Share information obtained by social listening within your organization

Social listening will yield a wealth of information that can be usefully shared throughout your company.

If a customer needs immediate assistance, the ability to identify a team able to provide a solution and then reply to their message will earn you credibility and build customer trust.

It also offers an opportunity to see what customers want for the future, in order to address a need for a product/service or improve the existing offer. Customer service, marking and product development teams may well benefit from your insights. Ask these teams for their views: by editing your social listening query, you will be able to give them even more relevant information.

Taken together, these five best practices will help you perform effective social listening that is representative of your audience. Implementing the listening and processes is only the start, however. The real benefits will be reaped over the longer term. By observing changes in the manner in which web users speak about you, and by working with the company’s other business lines, you will be able to fine-tune your listening, enhance it if necessary, and gain decisive insights.

Rohan Naseem