Even when there was no Internet, website, and social networks, businesses had a phone number that the customer could call and make his voice heard by the business. That way of communication has always been important for all businesses. Because if a business and brand want to stay in the market, it must pay attention to the customer. Hear the words and opinions of the customer, whether satisfied or dissatisfied and improve his service based on that.

Internet and social networks have provided a platform for sales and advertising, digital marketing, and social media marketing for businesses; they added to the ways of communication between the customer and the business and made that communication easier and faster. Among the ways of communication, social networks are more important than others and have a greater contribution. But why? The answer is social media listening or listening to the words and opinions of users on social networks.

What is social listening? Why is it important? How and with what tools should users’ opinions and words about businesses and brands be followed and checked on social networks? This article is about social listening and gives comprehensive and complete answers to the proposed questions.

What is social listening?

We live in the age of social commerce. Social networks are becoming more important and contributing to people’s work and lives every day, and as a result, more functions for businesses. Social media is not just an ideal environment for building brand awareness and advertising and sales, social media is where businesses extract data from.

Most of us have the experience of buying from Instagram businesses. You and I have learned some tips from some good and informative content that a famous digital marketer has published on his LinkedIn page. You and I may have had the experience that when we bought a book from a publisher and didn’t like its translation, we went to its Instagram page and left a comment and announced our dissatisfaction with the product (that book and translation) to everyone.

Our comments for that publisher or like and our comment for the educational content of that famous person is a kind of data. Businesses, brands, influencers, and even news networks, governments, and politicians gain valuable information about people’s views and opinions on various issues by monitoring that data and analyzing it. Therefore, social listening can be defined in different ways. For our discussion related to social listening in digital marketing and social media marketing, the following definition is very descriptive and appropriate.

Social listening is tracking social media platforms for mentions and conversations related to your brand, then analyzing them for insights to discover opportunities to act.

Why is social media listening important in the digital marketing of businesses?

What are the benefits of social listening for businesses? Why should they invest in social media to follow users’ opinions? Social listening indeed shows businesses what people think about them, products, campaigns, and content produced; but the benefits and importance of listening to users’ opinions on social media, and listening to social networks, for businesses and their success are not summarized in those cases.

Social listening is important for businesses and digital marketing teams because

1. Social listening tells businesses what their competitors are up to and what users are thinking about them.

The events that happen in the social networks of a business and the words that are exchanged about the brand and its products are not only helpful for the same business, but the competitors of each brand also use that information for their benefit. All businesses carefully monitor and analyze their competitors’ social media presence, user comments about their campaigns and products, and their related hashtags.

In addition to listening to competitors’ social media, it helps businesses understand where competitors are in the market and what users are thinking about them, and it shows them what their competitors’ long-term plans are.

2. Social listening tells the business what is happening in the market for its products and services and what are the gaps.

What is happening in the electric car market? What do people think about electric cars? What are their expectations from electric cars? Yes, automakers indeed find answers to these questions by analyzing data from various sources. But, definitely one of those sources is user comments and conversations that take place on social media (on the official pages of businesses as well as communities and specialized groups). All businesses seek to find gaps in the market to fill and outpace competitors.

For example, a customer’s request from Volvo Company is to produce and supply a cheaper electric car. The user left a comment on his Instagram account and Volvo responded that he should contact the nearest Volvo dealership in his city and see what that dealership can do to help (does it have a plan for installment sales or not?). Or another user has asked the price of a model in the comment. If the number of these comments is high, Volvo will realize that maybe it is necessary to define suitable installment purchase plans for all its dealers and inform them very clearly to the customers.

By following the opinions of users and experts in the communities formed in social networks, Volvo and other car manufacturers can find out the market situation and the shortcomings of the models of different brands and, as a result, new opportunities.

3. Social listening allows the business to communicate directly with the user (customer).

Some researchers have shown that customers tend to interact directly with the brand, ask questions and get answers. Of course, I think there is no need for research to prove that desire. You and I prefer to ask our questions about the product to the owner and we expect to get an answer very quickly.

Direct communication with the user and social media listening is the best source that shows the brand whether its campaigns, advertisements, content, and overall digital marketing and social media marketing strategies are correct and successful and have attracted the user’s opinion or not. Therefore, analyzing the data obtained from social listening helps businesses make sure they are on the growth path and tells them what needs to change in their strategies.

How to listen to social networks?

How should digital marketing teams collect data from social media and how should they analyze the data? Social listening is not about marketers just following everything (every single comment, hashtag, etc.) that is related to their brand. Social media listening is a set of purposeful activities that requires strategy and tools and is done in 3 stages. We start with the steps of social listening.

Stages of social media listening

Social listening has 3 stages:

  • Monitoring: The first step is for the digital marketing team to monitor the use of keywords, brand names, product names, topics related to the field of business, and the names of competitors and their products with software (tools) automatically or manually in one or more social networks in a certain period. take and collect
  • Analysis: The data is analyzed in this step to determine the user’s attitude and feelings. Big businesses use natural language processing software and algorithms for data analysis to find out the sentiment of the users from the texts obtained and the words used.
  • Response: The business may use the analysis results in various decisions. It may be necessary to respond to users. Perhaps a product has a problem that has troubled many customers. This is where the business should apologize to dissatisfied customers, for example, by publishing a video on Instagram and stopping producing that product. Perhaps the results of the analysis show that users are dissatisfied with the UX of the site. Consequently, the results should be given to the product design team so that they can improve the user experience.

Social listening strategy

Why would a business want to listen to social media to see what they are saying about it and its products? The social listening strategy of a business like Apple is different from a small startup that only has Instagram and 20,000 followers. Maybe the purpose of social media listening is that a business has launched a campaign on LinkedIn and Instagram and wants to check whether the campaign is successful or not. Maybe the goal is just to review and analyze the situation of some main business competitors in social networks. Or maybe the goal is to find the most effective and interesting content produced for a brand’s social networks in a year. So,

  • The goal or goals of social listening should be specified;
  • According to the purpose of social listening, it is necessary to specify the period, keywords, topics, social networks, and also the target users (target group);
  • The digital marketing team must determine the method of data collection and analysis. Is the tool supposed to be used or should the team members do the work?
  • The business and the marketing team must know how to react to the results of the analysis. For example, if the duration of the campaign is 15 days, but after 8 days the results are not satisfactory at all, should the campaign be stopped? Or not, in any case, the campaign should be implemented until the end?

Social listening tools

Software’s have been developed to manage social networks. Those software monitor business social networks, collect data and analyze it, and provide the marketing team with the result visualized (ie in the form of a chart or graph).

Of course, other tools use artificial intelligence to collect and analyze data, such as a tool called Lately. The algorithm of this tool learns what kind of content they like by monitoring business social network users. Then it creates a model to produce the content that the user likes. Of course, this tool is not free. But it offers services at different prices (the simplest service costs $14 per month) to businesses.

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring

Before finishing this discussion, I should say about the difference between social listening and social monitoring. Social media monitoring is the first stage of social listening. Sometimes a business may decide to only know the opinions of users on social networks. He is not supposed to analyze them and make a decision based on them, that is, he only does the first step and that’s it.

For example, a restaurant publishes its new menu on Instagram. If it’s social monitoring, it only reads feedback. He doesn’t answer them and if he gets negative feedback, he doesn’t change the menu. But if he has published the menu with the intention of social listening, he will analyze the feedback. According to the results and hearings, if necessary, he changes the menu.

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