How to manage your brand with social media listening

8 minute read

How to manage your brand with social media listening

In order to stay relevant in today’s consumer market, you need to be social. With an active social media presence, your brand can gain considerable leverage and influence among your customers and industry. From a consumer’s perspective, however, a social media account is more likely to be perceived as professional and successful if it has a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn, to name a few.

Today’s consumers will not take your brand seriously if your social media presence is lacking. This goes beyond simply creating a profile and making a few posts. To make the most out of your online platform, you have to steer the conversation. 

Social media listening helps you tune in to the right frequency by monitoring and assessing what is said about your brand online. With the right social media listening tools and attitude, you’re able to at least partially control your brand’s conversation and gain positive attention.

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What is social media listening? 

Social media listening is the act of gathering quantitative and qualitative data from social media interactions and mentions in online spaces, which you then use to derive insights into the health of your brand. This enables you to continually improve your marketing strategies. 

Social media listening has become a valuable tool for companies to track what is said about their brands online and take control over their online reputation. Reports from Nielsen, the world’s largest market research firm, show that 90% of consumers use the internet to research products and services before buying.

What is social media listening

The most popular review sites include some of the largest social platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Glassdoor and Facebook. The average consumer uses an average of 15 different reviews sites before making a final purchase decision.

Social media listening provides insights into the following:

  • Brand mentions
  • Relevant hashtags
  • Competitor mentions
  • Industry trends

On the most basic level, social media listening is about logging into your Twitter page and taking note of what replies, retweets and DMs you receive – not just how many, but also what kind. But it goes beyond that to reveal important information about your company. This information can be used to generate sales, improve customer service, and promote overall business growth. 

Why does social media listening matter? 

People talk. And if they’re talking about your business, it’s critical to listen. 

Whether it’s a Twitter rant, arguments in YouTube comments, or the dreaded negative Yelp review, people’s unfiltered opinions on the Internet can be useful. Analyzing people’s sentiment towards your brand can contribute to its longtime reputation. 

Data from social media listening campaigns can tell you a lot about public perception of your brand. Using social media listening tools to monitor what people are saying online can help you identify a problem before it becomes too big and develop strategies to address it. 

The right tools should be able to help you access the right conversations based on your industry and keywords associated with your brand. You can also use these tools to identify competitors, opportunities, and new personas that could be potential customers.

What do you need to listen to?

Your social media listening strategy should be adaptable. The social media landscape can change quickly, so it’s important to be able to react just as fast. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when developing and refining your social media listening campaign:

The most important metrics to track can change based on your overall social media strategy, but here are a few of the most common metrics to track:

  • Brand name, handles, slogan, products, hashtags (include misspellings just to be sure you catch all brand mentions)
  • Industry keywords and hashtags, relevant topics and prominent figures in the brand
  • Campaign names and keywords
  • Similar keywords for your biggest competitors

What are the best social media listening tools? 

There are social media listening tools for a variety of budgets and business sizes. A small business and low-profile startup might not expect a lot of data and social interactions to analyze simply because they’re a small fish on the market and/or are just starting up. In that case, something as simple as Google Alerts synchronized with an RSS reader may be enough.

However, if your business is already established or has been consistently growing, you may want to consider more substantial tools like:

  • Hootsuite: Manage all of your social channels in one convenient dashboard. Schedule and analyze posts. 
  • Talkwalker: Monitor every conversation about your brand, hashtags and competition on social media. Talkwalker has over 50 filters across 150 million data sources.
  • Sprout Social: Understand and reach your audience, engage your community and measure performance.

How to use social media listening to boost your brand 

From building successful campaigns to competition research, social media listening is the gift that keeps on giving to marketers. You have the absolute power to change the entire course of your marketing strategy for the year and come stronger at the other end. 

Social media listening can give you an insight into the direction of your competitive strategy. You can look at what kind of content is working for your competitors and incorporate it into your own brand’s social media strategy. You can also uncover opportunities to create a more human, relatable brand.

Social media listening allows you to:

  • Listen to your audience
  • Keep up with industry trends
  • Find your brand advocates 

Listen to your audience

We are living in the attention economy and if your customers have given you attention through purchases, then the least you can do is give a little attention back through a few social interactions.

Here are a few tips to show your audience that their voice is heard:

  • Stay present in the conversation. Listen to what customers’ pain points are and where you can do better. Every one of us wants to be heard.
  • Be thoughtful and respectful. This pays off in the long run, because you build brand loyalty and good will with each interaction.
  • Defuse tension gradually so there’s no major outcry or a PR scandal, when you make a public gaffe. 

Keep up with industry trends

Whoever takes advantage of a new trend before anyone else has the biggest influence on the market, at least for a little while.

The ability to follow where the wind blows raises your profile as a brand, because you’re responding to customer demand in a way that instantly presents a solution. A good example of this is how quickly mask manufacturers (and companies that have never had anything to do with masks) jumped on the demand for quality, comfortable masks with powerful filtration.

Following industry keywords, product keywords and hashtags will give you a good understanding of what’s happening in your sector.  

Find your brand advocates 

Recommendations fuel sales unlike any other promotional tool all thanks to trust. Customers want to talk to a real person who has used the product and swears by it. Paid sponsorships and celebrity endorsements serve a similar purpose, but they are viewed with skepticism because the brand paid for the praise and enthusiasm.

Social media listening reveals the real customers who love your products, buy them frequently and are not afraid to show it. These are the customers you want to reward for their loyalty and whose voices you want to amplify.

Social media listening FAQs

What is social media listening? 

Social media listening provides brands with key data from social media interactions. Companies can track what is said about their brands online. Twitter posts, Yelp reviews, and YouTube comments are tracked and analyzed.

How does social media listening work?

Social media listening uses software to monitor and analyze online conversations about your brand. You can track things like your brand name, target keywords, and competitors to maintain a pulse on your brand's online sentiment.

What are the best social media listening tools? 

There are social media listening tools for a variety of budgets and business sizes. A small business and low-profile startup can use something as simple as Google Alerts synchronized with an RSS reader. More established businesses may want to use more sophisticated tools like Hootsuite, Talkwalker, or Sprout Social.

Final thoughts

Social media listening is a way to stay in front of what’s being said about your brand online before it becomes a PR crisis. It’s also a way to gain actionable insights that help you improve your customer service, tailor your content strategy, and build your online reputation.

Understanding how customers think, what they like, and how their needs change is the first step in building effective customer relationships today.