What is social listening – and how can you use it to improve your social media strategy?

How can we expect our audience to respond well to our social media content if we don’t know what they actually want to read (or hear)?

And more to the point – how can we work out what our followers want from us without listening to their needs?

Social listening is all about keeping an ear out for the hot topics within your industry. It involves analysing the conversations that are happening in your community to learn about the things that really matter to your fans and followers. It comes down to collecting insights into everything that’s happening around your brand and within your industry, then using them to come up with better content and therefore forge stronger connections with your potential customers. 

The term ‘social listening’ sometimes gets confused with’ social monitoring’. Staying on top of social interactions by responding to comments and answering questions is HUGELY important for any business or brand, for so many reasons – but this is where the work starts, not where it ends. You need to listen to what people are saying, try and work out why they are saying it, and use the data you find to help you make more effective marketing decisions in the longer term.

Basically, social monitoring is about interaction, while social listening is about taking action!

How social listening can lead to a better social media strategy

You can use social listening to:

  • Get an idea of how your brand is going down

Follow mentions of your business to see what others are saying about you. Are they generally feeling positive about your company? Are there certain things they think you could be doing better?

Collect as much information as you can on the way people perceive your brand, then use these golden nuggets to not only improve your content output, but perhaps even shape better systems and processes to tackle common problems head-on.   

  • Find out what people really think about your products or services

This can be as simple as making a note of the questions that frequently get asked about your products or services, then creating content that attempts to answer them! But you can also take the concept further by working out which of your offerings have been well-received and which ones haven’t had much traction, and working out why this might be.

  • Analyse what’s happening in your industry

Social listening goes beyond looking at what’s happening with and for your brand. You need to check out what’s going on in your industry, too – and this often means having a nosey at what your competitors are doing.

For example, you could look for:

  • The hashtags that are bringing other companies the most exposure and engagement across the different networks
  • The way people are responding to your competitors’ content on different social media platforms
  • The news stories and articles that are trending in your space – and why these topics mean so much to your audience right now

There’s so much more to social listening than you think

When it comes to social listening, the tips and tricks listed here are the very tip of the iceberg. If you really want to use this tried-and-tested technique to understand what’s hot and what’s not – and grow your following by being proactive in your approach, not just reactive to what your customers are saying about you – you need to dive pretty deep into the conversation.

The upside? You’ll get a tonne of amazing insights that you can use to create content that better resonates with your audience.

The downside? It takes time. Time you probably haven’t got.

This is where I can step in. I can provide social listening reports on a one-off or monthly basis, depending on what you need. I can also help you use all this information to build a more effective social media strategy that will bring your business ahead of the curve.

You can learn more about my social media monitoring and marketing services here.