Social listening: The Trend That No Business Can Afford to Ignore

Over 50% of the world’s population is on social media. On an average, people spend 142 minutes per day looking for entertainment, socialization, news consumption, and even for sharing thoughts, experiences, ideas, and news. No wonder why social media has more than enough opportunity to build and grow your business, no matter how small or local it is. 

Over the years, even small businesses, catering to their own localities, have realized that they cannot grow without the help of social media. The latest statistics state that almost 81% of small and medium businesses have started using social media to gain some visibility among their online audience. 

Unfortunately, most businesses that have social media presence are just using it for marketing their products or services. They aren’t engaging with their customers. Some medium and large businesses do interact with their customers but to a very limited extent such as replying to their complaints. That’s it! 

Have you ever thought if it is worth spending so much time and manpower only to respond to queries and complaints received on your Facebook or Twitter page? 

Yes, you would have, especially if you are a small or medium scale business with a limited budget. 

 

And yet, you do spend hours on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. sharing information about your business and using it as a marketing tool. Because everyone else is doing it! 

Is it working enough? Maybe, but is there a way it can give you better results? 

In this blog, we are going to brief you about social listening, a new way of using social media to not just monitor your brand’s position or evaluate the results of your social media marketing strategies but also to grow your customer base and improve retention of unhappy customers. It is all about hearing your customers and not making them hear what you have to say (which is what most of our social media strategies revolve around). 

What is social listening? How is it different from social monitoring? 

The term ‘social listening’ is self-explanatory but a lot of people confuse it with social media monitoring. Although 95% of US businesses use social media for marketing themselves, they hardly communicate with their customers. All they do is monitor what is being said about them and where. 

And then what? 

Businesses hardly use that collected information to grow their clientele. They collect the data solely to judge if their brand name is gaining any popularity year by year i.e. if their social media strategies are working or not. 

Well, that’s social media monitoring. 

But, most businesses have never thought that they should be using (or they can use ) the information not just to determine their reach but also to increase their reach. 

Let’s say you are a restaurant owner and you serve 200 people every week. In the first week, 50 people talked positively about your restaurant to their friends, colleagues, etc. 75 people discussed about you the next week, then 90 people, and then 70 people. You are happy because you are constantly getting appreciation. This is social monitoring. 

Have you ever wondered what they are talking about? Are they appreciating a specific dish of yours? Do they like the ambiance? Did they ever find your staff rude? Are they looking for a specific dish that you don’t serve? 

Wondering why should you be bothering about these types of information?

Well, if some customers found your staff rude, you can act immediately and correct your staff’s behavior. You can reach out to unhappy customers and offer your apologies. Maybe you can offer them some discounts to neutralize their negative feelings so they don’t go and spread bad words about you. 

If 20 people conveyed that they like your ambiance, you can reach out to them and offer a discount if they want to host their birthday party at your restaurant. 

Or maybe, you found out that your diners are preferring some other restaurant for hosting their parties because they don’t like your ambience. You can get your party hall renovated on a priority basis and start marketing it. Wouldn’t it help you grow your business? 

This is social listening. 

You just don’t track your brand’s awareness but also use ‘social talks’ to provide a better experience to your customers, which will further help you grow your business. You can also use this information to reach out to customers who don’t even know about you. For example; you found out that a lot of people in your area are looking for ice creams even during winter, you can start offering free ice creams to all diners during winter to attract the ice cream lovers. That’s how you can make your marketing strategies more effective. 

In a nutshell, social listening is tracking:

  • Who is talking about your brand?
  • What is being discussed about your brand?
  • Is the discussion positive or negative?
  • How does your brand compare to your competitors in social talks?
  • What trends are your buyers or potential buyers discussing in your relevant area of business? 

Once you have collected the above-mentioned information, you can use it for retaining customers as well as for acquiring new customers. That’s called proactive social listening. We have discussed more about it below. But first, let’s get into the depth of social listening. 

Who needs social listening? 

Every business must listen to their customers. Whether you are a B2B or a B2C organization, an NGO, a fundraising organization, a local baker, a tattoo artist, a government agency, or a wedding photographer; you must know what your customers or prospects are talking about. Only then, you will be able to serve them well. 

Why is social listening so important?

It helps you communicate with your customers 

Did you know 1 in 3 people prefer to contact a brand through social media? They prefer to reach out to you for complaints and queries on your Facebook or Twitter handle rather than emailing or calling you. 

If they contact you via social media and you don’t respond, the stakes are too high. 

  • When someone complains to you on social media handles, your entire social audience hears about it. 
  • When you don’t respond, it gives a negative image of you. Buyers and prospects will assume that you don’t really care about their problems or queries. 
  • But, if you respond promptly, buyers will feel valued and respected. Others will also admire you and will feel more confident in doing business with you.

Building a positive brand image on social media is not just about posting positive content about yourself. It is about making your most annoying buyer feel valued and, most importantly, ‘feel heard’. 

Social listening helps you respond to their questions and address their queries before they start impacting your brand’s image. It also helps increase your customer retention rates. 

It helps manage a crisis before it happens 

This t-shirt was launched by H&M some time ago. One of the buyers noticed the text on the t-shirt and complained about it on various social media channels. Within minutes, thousands of people across the globe joined the conversation and started blaming H&M for racism and insensitivity. H&M responded quickly by taking down the product from its website. It apologized to the audience on all the social media where it received backlash. It thanked the customer for identifying the issue and assured everyone that it will be more sensitive from then on. 

This prompt action helped H&M avert a major PR crisis that would have happened if it had delayed the response by some hours or maybe a day. The print and electronic media and social media influencers would have blown the issue manifolds. 

Social media backlashes are common not only for major brands but also for local businesses. Even tattoo artists and plumbers receive negative feedback on social media. It is very important for you to closely monitor them and act immediately so the situation doesn’t go out of control. 

It helps identify sales leads and grow your customer base

This is what we call proactive social listening. You shouldn’t just have your ears to what people are talking about you but also about your industry or competitors. 

Say, you are a home gym equipment manufacturer. You keep tracking social media posts where people ask for recommendations for brands or equipment that they can buy for home gym. You immediately reach out and suggest your own brand. You explain to them about your products and their price range. Maybe you tell them how many satisfied customers you have. You can even direct them to some useful resources or request a phone call for better guidance. 

Don’t you think proactive social listening will help you generate more business leads? Isn’t it a better way of approaching your prospects than just adding social media posts every day? 

How to get started with social listening?

Even if you have a huge social media budget, you can’t hire enough people to keep reading every mention of your brand name on Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and other social sites. 

Plus, a lot of social mentions do not actually include the brand’s handle i.e. they don’t tag your brand name or complain about you on your social page. Unless they tag you, your social media team won’t be able to find out what is being spoken about your brand. This is why you need social listening tools. 

Right social listening tools can immediately notify you when someone mentions something about your brand even if they haven’t tagged you i.e. they haven’t included your social media handle. These tools can tell you the content as well as the sentiment of the mentions so you can decide if you need to act, when you need to act, and how you need to act. 

So what are those right tools? 

Well, there are quite a few options but we recommend ‘Notifier’. 

This tool does everything that other top tools such as Hootsuite and HubSpot do but at a much affordable price, making social listening an affordable option for small and medium scale businesses. Plus, it helps track your mentions on Reddit, which is often overlooked by other popular tools. 

  • Reddit has monthly traffic of more than 52 million
  • 51% of users of this site are from the U.S.
  • Users submit more than 10 million posts per month. 
  • It gets more than 46.7 million daily searches. 
  • More than 80% of Gen-Z users say that they trust Reddit when it comes to recommendations and feedback.

These statistics cannot be ignored. Unlike Twitter and Facebook, Reddit users solely visit this platform for having in-depth conversations with others. Users share their experiences, feedback, helpful tips-tricks, etc. Over the years, Reddit has emerged as an authentic social media platform whereas others are being used to catch up with friends and family. 

If you aren’t monitoring Reddit, you may have been missing out on a lot of information that is being shared about your business. You may have been missing out on a lot of sales opportunities too. Notifier helps track down those conversations on Reddit as well as all other social media platforms where your prospects and your customers may be talking about you, your competitors, your industry, and any other information that may have a positive or negative effect on your business. 

Notifier is a relatively new social listening tool and that’s why it has come up with competitively priced plans so budget-crunched businesses can afford it too. It is not an inferior alternative to more expensive options. Rather, it helps you do exactly what you need to do to listen and respond to your social audience. 

Social listening tips and tricks

Respond 

That’s the reason why you listen; so you can respond quickly and communicate effectively. Respond to both negative and positive feedback, specifically negative ones. People leave negative feedback on social media because they want to get everyone’s attention; the brand’s as well as its followers. If you don’t respond, others assume you are wrong. Plus, you do not care about your customers. 

No matter how nasty the customer is getting, make sure you respond and try to alleviate the issue. You don’t need to put everything on social media. You can request a personal chat or a phone call. 

Do not neglect competitors’ strategies

Make sure you evaluate what your competitors are doing. This will help you understand 

  • What people are talking about your competitors? 
  • Which of their strategies/campaigns is getting more attention?
  • What are the things that people like more about them? Are you missing out on those aspects? 
  • Do they have any unhappy customers whom you can indirectly pitch in? 
  • What mistakes are they making? 

These takeaways can help you design a better social media listening strategy. 

Listen proactively 

Right from the beginning of the article, we have been telling you that you must not limit your social actions on listening to your customers only. You need to hear what your prospects are talking too. Let’s say; you are a VPN service provider. People may be asking for VPN service provider recommendations on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, etc. If you monitor such posts, you can quickly respond and pitch for your services before your competitors do. This will give you an edge over others.  

Say, someone could be complaining about his current VPN service provider on social media. You can quickly reach out to him and pitch your services. You can explain how your services are up-to-date and better. Maybe you can offer him a good deal. By listening to your prospects and staying up to date with the industry trends you will be able to grow your business. 

We hope now you have understood why and how social listening is going to benefit your business. If you truly want to listen to your social customers, let’s chat. Book a free demo with Notifier and see how it can help you make a huge difference to your brand’s image.