Social listening has increased in value as a tool over the past year, providing a way for brands to understand how customers feel about them and what is being said online. It’s a type of market research that is incredibly effective and which provides huge insight into perceptions about the business, its products and services, as well as competitor brands. So, how do you use social listening – and how does it differ from social monitoring?

Defining social listening

The basic function of social listening is tracking mentions and conversations on social media platforms that relate to your brand – or to the competition. You can also look for mentions of your products and services, as well as any keywords that are especially relevant to your business. That information can then be analysed and used to help build positive brand perception and recognition, and to inform key decisions about strategy going forward.

Social listening vs social monitoring

Social monitoring is all about collecting data on what has already happened. That includes information on brand hashtags, industry trends as well as brand and competitor mentions. It’s purely a numbers game that will give you data you can use to monitor ROI or in A/B testing campaigns. Social listening goes beyond this, as it looks at all the online activity, as well as the mood behind it. This ‘mood’ is sometimes called ‘brand sentiment.’ It is this that distinguishes social listening from social monitoring because you’re looking at how people actually feel, as opposed to simply what they are saying.

Why use social listening?

  • To better understand an audience. These are real people talking about your brand online and that’s invaluable information to have. You’ll get a better understanding of what people really want from your brand and where they might be looking for specific solutions.
  • An early warning system. If there is a crisis brewing around your brand, social listening will provide an alert that you can use to take action.
  • A way to identify potential collaborators. You’ll be able to see who the creators and thought leaders are and whether they have a natural affinity with what you offer.
  • An opportunity to gently engage. Social listening means you can interact with customers at the moment where they most need it, whether that’s answering questions or providing suggestions. One key tip: don’t jump into a conversation with a hard sell.
  • Product intelligence. Social listening could reveal exactly what’s working – or not – with your products, which you can use to inform product development.
  • Information about competitors. It’s always useful to see what your audience is saying about competitor brands, not least because this will help inform your idea of where your business fits in the market. Social listening could show you what competitors are doing, from new launches to fresh marketing, and even reveal a gap in the market you’d never considered.

Social listening is a vital tool for brands when it comes to understanding customer perceptions. It can be a great way to engage and an opportunity to fill your funnel with new customers who appreciate the way you interact online. To find out how Iconic Digital can help you with your social media strategy, get in touch today, call us on 020 7100 0726. Find out more about our Social Media Marketing Agency in London.