Every day, millions of people share their thoughts, experiences, and feelings associated with the brands that they encounter across the social web. These blog posts, forums, reviews, and social posts can be extremely valuable to brands, helping them to better understand their customers.

Social media listening and monitoring are very broad terms that can encompass many different uses for social and traditional marketing, but are often under-utilized or not fully optimized for maximum potential. Social monitoring use cases can range from reputation management and understanding share of voice amongst a competitive set, to being able to identify influencers in the social space, drawing insights about your audience, product development, or managing customer service relationships.

Overall, social listening tools can provide a wealth of information, so it’s important to go into using a tool with a strategy and an idea of how to get the most out of it.

1. Outline An Objective For Your Social Listening Tool

The amount of information that social listening tools can provide can get overwhelming. In order to really benefit from your tool, it is worth sitting down to understand what you’re hoping to get out of it. Would it be helpful for you to simply understand share of voice and competitive insights? Are you trying to identify strong brand advocates and influencers already talking about your brand? Or are you more interested in diving into trends in conversation to learn what people are saying about a specific product? Getting a good idea of what it is you’re trying to answer by using the tool can be essential in helping to build out descriptive, effective queries in order to pull the most relevant data.

2. Work With Segments And Categorization To Generate Meaningful Insights

Many social listening tools provide functionality to create rules or segments based off of keywords in order to group content related to a particular category. This process is usually fairly simple to set up, and can be extremely beneficial in terms of understanding trends in conversation across different products, services, or themes. Looking at data holistically may show a majority of positive sentiment relating to a brand, but breaking out conversations by product may show a strong negative sentiment for one particular product. Segmenting by type of mention can also be helpful to get a clear understanding of what might be important to your customers. A product might see consistent messaging and sentiment across blogs, but might tell a completely different story on ratings and review sites. Take a look at the functionality provided by your tool and outline segments that would make sense for you to track based on your overall objectives.

For example, instead of just looking at conversation related to “customer service” as a whole, there may be merit in breaking out conversations surrounding customer service online, versus customer service by phone, versus customer service in person. Segmentation allows you to really drill down into insights of what is important to your brand, and apply those learnings to affect change where it may be needed.

3. Make Sure The Right People Are Receiving The Right Information

Social listening alerts are a fantastic way to keep the right people on your team informed of spikes, trends, and themes in conversation. Many tools allow you to create teams that can be alerted when specific actions occur in the social space. If you’re used to seeing 100 mentions a day, you would likely want your community managers to know if a huge spike in mentions begins to occur, as this could relate to a crisis management situation. If your brand or product is mentioned by a celebrity or influencer and is picked up through social sharing, an alert to a team member can help you to engage in conversation as it happens, and provide a victory to share with a client. Depending on your tool, alerts can provide as much or as little information as you want to disseminate to your team, and can be pivotal in making sure the right people get the information they need.

4. Extend Your Listening Approach To Competitors

Utilizing social data about your own brand can be very helpful and rewarding. Learning what people are saying about your competitors can be just as important. Creating queries within your social monitoring tool to look at specific competitors can provide insight into what they are doing well, as well as what their customers feel they are not doing well. These insights can be instrumental in taking away learnings for your own brand, as well as potential product development where competitors are failing to meet customer need.

For example, a detergent product (A) and its competitor (B) could be similarly priced. Digging in to social listening insights, consumers may attribute Product A with a better stain fighting power, but say that Product B has a scent that they prefer. This could inform how Product A positions itself, and could facilitate product development to incorporate the preferred scent that people enjoy about Product B.

Keeping a pulse on how competitors are being talked about in social, as well as how they are working to shape the conversations about themselves, can be key to position your brand effectively within a competitive space.

5. Understand Your Tool’s Limitations

Different social monitoring tools offer different functionality, so it is important to choose a tool whose functionality lines up with your objectives. However, there is no such thing as the perfect social monitoring tool. It is important to experiment with your tool and learn what it does well, and what it could improve on. For example, automated sentiment scoring can often be a mixed bag, but some tools do sentiment scoring better than others. Doing your research on your tool’s strong points and pain points can be an incredibly important process to ensure that you are getting what you need out of the tool.

If you run into pain points, it’s always worth talking to your rep to see what they can do – tools are often being optimized and changed to incorporate customer feedback, and sharing your experiences can be helpful in terms of building out increased functionality.

Overall, social listening tools can provide tremendous amounts of insight to your brand if used effectively. Figuring out how to use your tool to achieve your business goals should be a central part of your marketing strategy, and these are just a few ways to optimize the efficiency of how you use these tools. What are some best practices that you have learned while using social monitoring tools for your brand?

Published with permission from Ignite Social Media.


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