If you haven’t had a conversation with your grandmother about throwback telephony, you’re really missing out. In the olden days, they had something called a party line. This line was shared by multiple subscribers, who could pick up their telephones and listen in on their neighbors’ conversations. From those communiques, they learned everything from who was expecting a new baby to what produce was on sale that week at the grocery store. While telephone party lines are things of the past, you can still eavesdrop on online conversations to gain insights about your business, competitors and industry. It’s called social listening, and here are five key things that you need to know about this digital marketing practice.
#1 Target Social Channels Based On Your Ideal Customer
Finding the right conversations to evaluate is one of the first steps to effective social listening. The best way to get relevant information about your brand and your industry is by systematically patrolling the online hotspots where your targeted customers hang out. If your ideal customer is a hipster Millennial, you’ll likely find juicy conversations about your brand and industry on Instagram and Snapchat, according to a March 2018 Pew Research Center report. Older, more affluent consumers tend to gab on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
#2 Find Influencers
You know why it’s important to focus on delighting a particular customer. Targeting your buying persona keeps your digital marketing efforts focused and sharp. Not all customers are equal and neither are their online chats. You should identify knowledgeable leaders of the pack to be advocates for your brand on social platforms. These pacesetters are called influencers. You can rely on them to provoke discussions about trends in the industry and how your brand measures up to marketplace expectations.
#3 Don’t Ignore Feedback About Competitors
Online conversations about competitors can be just as useful as those directed at your brand. You’ve heard the saying that it’s better to learn from someone else’s mistakes. You can gain insight into why your target customer group bashed a competitor’s product or service and identify ways that you can avoid the same mishaps. If a competitor has garnered high praise from the same group, you can use those competitor strengths as benchmarks for your initiatives.
#4 Don’t Hesitate to Join the Conversation
Before the digital age, marketing firms mailed out printed surveys to customers and prospects to gain feedback about their brands and industries. Today’s marketers are at a distinct advantage because they don’t have to start the conversation with customers. Their buying personas are already talking about their brands on various social media channels. However, those survey questions don’t have to go to waste. You can feed online discussions with them and gain more insight about your customers’ values and buying behaviors.
#5 Use in Tandem With Social Media Analytics
You can make some progress by cherry picking social data points for analysis. However, you’ll derive much more benefit from social listening if you gather social intelligence data and evaluate it using analytics tools. These analytical platforms allow you to identify trends in user experiences that can help guide future marketing campaigns. You can also use social media analytics to determine if your marketing initiative is meeting set goals and objectives.
Whether your business model is B2C or B2B, you can’t afford to ignore the chatter on popular social media channels. The great thing about being on social is that your audience expects you to listen, engage and respond to them. Social media offers an informal invitation to join the digital party line. Your grandmother would approve.