You have been talking all this while, it is time you start listening.
Take a time to fill in the shoe of other people and know what it is like to be a customer of your business. All those experiences and knowledge under your belt only represent a cone in a circle, you need to start leveraging other perspectives to be able to take your business to the next level.
Social listening, or media monitoring as some people call it, is the process of aggregating views from different social channels that align with your business to know what the expectations of people are. I call it a process because it is not a “once and done” strategy but a continuous efforts that you will have to maintain to grab consistent ideas about the latest scheme of things.
People express their opinions, share their experiences, and want others to know about the next stuff they are up to through the social media. As a window for all, you could expect to catch many views from personal experiences, to industry specifics, and mainstream journals alike. Keeping tabs on those stories will help you to always be on the know regarding what people are looking for and to hit them in the right spot.
For instance, a global media agency, Mindshare UK, realized how social listening could be powerful for its business just for one day when it decided to hire a real-time social intelligence hub, Brandwatch Vizia, to listen to its consumers and key UK retailers for a duration of Black Friday. It was predicted that Black Friday 2015 would become the biggest shopping day in history that could surpass the one billion pound mark for the first time ever. Mindshare UK HQ decided to monitor the online conversations about its products, as well visualize its consumer sentiments around the day. And of course, the big day didn’t disappoint.
Social listening can provide you an insight into how your potential customers feel to a deeper level. Sometimes when asking people question directly about a certain product, they may tend to hold back on some truth, just to be nice, (especially, when saying the truth can be hurtful). But social listening allows you to understand the people’s minds and pain points through their social interactions. A good idea is when you notice certain topics that are always generating a lot of discussions and interests among people, that you decide to model that idea to provide a better content that will catch many interests of your followers.
Below are a few ways to embark on social listening successfully and drive the needed results for your business.
Discover your customers
The first step that you will have to take is to know where your ideal audiences are hanging out. Every social channel is meant to serve specific purposes which will end up defining what most people there are saying and their expectations. A platform like Pinterest will be the right place to focus on if you are in fashion business for example, and if your target audience are mostly women in their 30s who have taste in variety of high end consumer products. You can create a social listening dashboard around this channel targeting the set of key terms that are descriptive of your business or industry.
The Bank of America was able to reach 6 million unique people in less than 5 months through promoted pins campaign after embarking on a consistent social listening on Pinterest. They created Better Money Habits, an online resource, to help people better manage their money with a special focus on Millennials. They target Millennials being the people who are just starting life in financial planning, from getting their first paycheck, starting a family, and saving for retirement. And Pinterest being a platform that is mostly used by young professionals especially the women, they deemed it as a right place to reach their audience. They launched campaigns focusing on what Millennials mostly do by creating boards for different life moments like “Buy a home”, “Travel plans”, etc. and populating each board with relevant pins linking to more in-depth content on their BMH site.
The result was phenomenal as BMH content reached millions of unique Pinners in less than 5 months with more than 29 thousand repins generated in the process. All thanks to persistent social listening that enabled them to plan and re-adjust their campaign along the line.
We have been successful because we’ve listened to what the community wants to know more about based on what people are searching for and customized our content to meet those needs.
That was the word of Christopher Smith, enterprise social media executive at Bank of America.
Here are a few resources that you can employ to keep tab on what is buzzing about your business on Pinterest. They come with a free version that you can use to monitor your Pinterest to some extent, but if you need to experience their full features you should consider upgrading to their paid version.
This is a powerful visual marketing suite that takes stress off your Pinterest experience and allows you to schedule your pins based on the time slots you have specified. You can do a number of things from its dashboard which could make your media monitoring a lot easier.
You can track your page performance, boards, pins, and lots more. With the powerful insights into what is trending in your industry, you can inspect a pin to gauge its performance, know what interests your target audience, and the peak days and times to schedule your pins. You can also monitor the organic activity of your domain and sync with your Google Analytics account to track your referral traffic.
Most of these insights are available on a free account but you will have to upgrade your account to dig into more pins and industry trends.
To get started, simply go to the above address and click on the “Get started free” button on the page. This will ask you to authorize on your Pinterest account, click the button.
You will now need to provide your email and password to complete the set-up, make sure you verify your email address by clicking on the link sent to your inbox. You can install its Chrome extension to simplify your experience, this will let you easily schedule your pins from any web page.
These are some of the other tools that are specifically designed to help make your social listening a (P)interesting experience:
Monitor about your competitors
The idea of social listening is not limited to what people are saying about your business alone. You can use your competitors’ insights to gauge the expectations of people about your business. People express discontent towards certain products they feel are not meeting expected standards, they show this by using words that depict a sense of dissatisfaction. When words such as “Doesn’t”, “Won’t”, “Unable”, “Haven’t”, etc. are used to describe certain products in your industry, they are mostly expressing a state of discontentment. You can capitalize on that to see if your services cover the areas that those businesses are failing.
To do this, go to Mention and sign up. After filling in your details and logging in, you can start creating alerts for any key terms that you have determined. Click on where it says “Anything else” to monitor your conversations based on keywords:
In the next page you will have to provide your Competitor’s Brand Name + any disconsolate expressions in the box to create alerts for those people who are not too happy with their services.
Provide as many keywords as possible in this section to make sure you are not missing any relevant conversations.
Now is to set the Priority Pages to monitor first, this could be your competitor’s brand page, social account, or any other page that you think will provide more insights into what people are saying about their products and services.
You will then need to configure the Sources and Languages that you want to monitor your mentions from. All the available sources are selected by default with only English selected as a language. You can select and/or unselect more options to suit your need, click on “View Results” button to read the resulting mentions.
Results are shown in real time to get you up-to-the-minutes updates about those mentions:
There are several filters available to narrow down your alerts into specific details. One, particularly, I think you may want to use is “Sentiment” filter, this allows you to view the sentiments behind those mentions of your competitors, whether they are Positive, Negative, or Neutral.
You can edit at any time and adjust your alerts set-up from the very beginning just the way you want it. If you are like me who like to read all your news from a single source, you can export your alert as a RSS feed into a content aggregator like Feedly. To do this, simple edit your alerts by clicking on it at the top-left of your page. Now click on the RSS logo at the top to copy your link:
Go to feedly.com and sign up with a social account. At the search bar on top of the page, paste in the copied URL.
You can now add the feed to your feedly reading list by clicking the green + button.
This will appear to the left of your account that you can begin to monitor your mentions from Feedly with one click of a button.
This is another powerful way to keep an eye on many conversations that concern your business online. Being a service from the world’s largest search engine (Google), many people are already conversant with how it works. But I’m going to show you how to better use Google Alerts to nail down specific results in your social listening. This has to do with your email itself. I hope you have a branded Gmail account that you are using for signing up into these services online. if you don’t have one yet, simply go to Gmail.com to obtain a dedicated email. You can name the email based on your marketing niche and business brand.
After setting up your account, go to your account settings and click on the “Label” tab to create a label that you can apply to a category of incoming emails. Make sure to use appropriate name for each label so that you can easily identify where the message is coming from.
Quick note: You can nest your label into an already existing label OR you can create a new stand-alone label for a topic. For instance, you can create a label for a topic “Social Media Marketing” and under it create a subtopic (nested label) for “Twitter Marketing“.
When you have a handle of different labels that you want to use for your account, click on the “Filters” tab to set up an automated filtering system that will organize your incoming emails under the appropriate labels.
Now you will need to specify the criteria to use in filtering your messages. You can set a filter to read your messages From a particular email address, or To an email recipient, or based on the Subject of the email, or a set of Keywords.
Since the “From” field represents where the email is coming from, it’s not compulsory you fill this unless you want to filter only messages from a particular email. You can also leave the “To” field blank since all messages are automatically sent to your mail inbox.
On the “Subject” and “Has the Words” fields, this is where you can specify your Keywords based on what you have set in the services that will be sending you notifications about your social mentions.
Click on “create filter with this search” at the bottom right when you are done.
You can now configure what action to take with each incoming email. There are several options here to select but since our aim is to organize your inbox into specific filters, check the “Skip the Inbox (Archive it)” box, and then select a Label to apply to your message. This will let you avoid clogging up your inbox with all kinds of messages, so that you can read notifications only from a chosen category.
It is now time to begin your Google Alerts set up. Go to Google Alerts and type in your Keywords, I will advise you change the How Often option from “At most once a day” to “As it happens”. This will let you recieve an instant notification when a topic of interest is being discussed rather than waiting for a daily email digest. Being the first person to respond to those queries and conversations could be the key factor that will make the difference for your business. Click “Create Alert” button when you are satisfied with other options.
You can continue to create alerts as many as possible like this to capture other relevant keywords to your business and then assign them appropriately to your Gmail filters.
Leverage Influencers and Advocates
A similar business in your industry with relatively wider establishment can provide lots of insights about your customers. They have likely gotten more experience as to how customers respond to a particular business decision, you can take a cue from their collection of responses and know how to adjust your own approach to meet up with those expectations. Follow their story lines in customer service, listen to their patterns of interactions and the key ingredients in their service that have brought a delightful experience to their customers. I won’t say you should follow their templates, that would be awful! – you want to convey uniqueness in your business – but to dig into their experience and use that to connect the dots in your own service.
The other set of people that are worth paying attention to are the top advocates for your brand. These people are already conversant with your style and trusted your business at least to an extent, you could get in touch with them and find a way to integrate them further in your social strategy. Being able to have a big social front with popular faces in the industry will help your cause significantly in social listening. When you publish a press release, blog post, or any information about your products, these are the people who are sharing your content often, contributing to the ensuing discussions and following your social accounts religiously. Track the links to your content to get a hang of the people who care about your business, you can reward them with takeaways to deepen the relationship, make sure they sign up to get the offerings.
You should also diversify your media monitoring to include common typo for your brand name. If people mostly make a spelling mistake in writing your business name, you should include that in your tracked mentions. You might also want to add those common “cute” spellings for your brand, for instance, if your brand name is “ClicktoTweet” you can add something like “Click2Tweet” as part of your mentions. Finally, make sure you track your brand without the @-yourname. People might just be mentioning you without using the @-yourbrand on Twitter, you want to be sure you are not missing out on those mentions as well. For you don’t know which ones will prove to be most vital.
Over to you,
How is social listening being useful to your business? What is your best method of keeping tabs on those important mentions? Can you share one experience where media monitoring helped prevent an unsavoury conversation from escalating for your business?