Social media has been around for so long now that no one can deny that it’s a valuable tool for those businesses who want to know what their target audiences are saying online. However, social media isn’t a one-way street. Just because you’re sharing content and being mentioned by customers on a daily basis, it doesn’t mean you’re doing all that can be done to get the most out of your social media efforts. The key is social listening… an exercise that’s often over-looked despite the fact that it goes way beyond any inbound engagements you might currently be getting.

Are you listening?

So, what is social listening? It’s the process of searching (and capturing) social networks for posts that mention certain phrases or words. This allows businesses to discover, monitor and engage with conversations that may be relevant to their expertise/services/products, or may simply not have mentioned their company handles. This opens a whole new world of possibilities as it lets businesses drill down and decide on who they want to reach out to, ultimately all this information feeds into the sales cycle to warm up leads which wouldn’t be accessible through traditional marketing methods.

The businesses that are more savvy to social listening are seeing more benefits than before they started. Not only are they seeing an increase in engagement, they’re able to spot different industry trends, see any product issues, pass on leads to their sales teams and even increase brand sentiment online.

How do you get started?

Implementing social listening is key for ensuring your business is meeting its customer’s needs. Listening to what people are saying about your industry or brand will provide more insight on what you need to do to outshine your competitors online. The data you’ll be gathering won’t just be useful from a sales perspective, it will benefit a range of departments such as marketing, customer service and even R&D.

There are multiple tools available for businesses that help to make social listening easier. From Sprout Social to TweetDeck, both premium and free tools have built-in features that will enable you to drill down into the feeds of your customers so you can track the terms and phrases that matter most for your business.

In terms of first steps, I would recommend simply setting up searches around your brand’s name. By doing this you’ll see any post that matches the search criteria, even if they don’t directly mention your business (if your brand often gets misspelled then include this in your search too). The next step would be to monitor keywords or phrases which your company can interact with. The beauty of this is that some social networks allow you to monitor based on geographic location, so if you only want to see people posting about cloud computing in Manchester (for example), then it takes only a few minutes to set up.

It’s not as hard as it sounds

Social listening is an extremely useful approach to social media for any organisation. While it’s important to get it right, don’t fret if you’re not seeing results straight away. It takes time and refinement before you start seeing those “golden” engagements. The key here is to make sure you’re doing something, because something is always better than nothing when it comes to social media. Once you start building your confidence by increasing the number of monthly engagements on your social feeds then you’ll notice that your social strategy is beginning to evolve around social listening itself.

Emma Walker, Digital Account Lead


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