Social Listening for Research Insights

As you may have noticed it has become increasingly more difficult to get your customers attention. It is through Social Listening that will be the key to unlock new found potential in your business, whether it is an online company or a brick and mortar company that relies on foot traffic.

What is Social Listening

When I say Social Listening I am meaning it is the business intelligence that uses research and monitoring of the media (including social media), influencers, customers, employees, and competitors. 

Your Strategic Approach

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It is increasingly important for businesses to be aware of what their customers are thinking and saying about their company.  If you take the definition of social listening to heart then you will be quite curious about what your customers are saying and asking about your company.  If you are curious, hear your customers out and don’t interrupt and then repeat back to them what you heard, either with the use of parroting or paraphrasing, you will learn a lot from your customers on how to better serve them (Waxman).

Active Listening

Active listening sounds easy, and if you practice it a lot it can become second nature to you.

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Active listening sounds easy, and if you practice it a lot it can become second nature to you. By taking a serious interest in what your customers are thinking and saying you can

Social Listening can be an early warning system for issues and/or crises.  Not every negative situation is a crisis.  An issue to Melissa Agnes is a negative situation that has the potential to grow and harm your business. A crisis is a situation that poses major long-term problems that could impact your finances and reputation.  Both situations are serious and need to be monitored and managed.

Social Listening is critical during a crisis event where you can work to de-escalate the crisis as well communicate with your customers to fully explain the situation and hopefully come to a satisfactory resolution for your customers. **If the situation is complex or you need personal details to address their issue, it may be best to take the conversation private. If it is a simple problem, then by addressing the problem publicly it can be a way to show to the public how you handle a dissatisfied customer or an easy question and answer that may save time for another customer having the same issue.

When using social listening, you should be looking at your platforms daily.  If you see an issue or crisis starting you should get involved early: Take responsibility early, apologize sincerely, and fix the situation early. 

Social listening is not just about watching for and responding to issues and crises.  It can also be a way of seeing if your competitors are expanding their business services and how it is being received.  Social listening can also be a partnership with customers to help shape the company better serve those they serve. Not every issue is a crisis. An issue to Melissa Agnes is a negative situation that has the potential to grow and harm your business. A crisis is a situation that poses major long-term problems that could impact your finances and reputation.  Both situations are serious and need to be monitored and managed (Agnes 2014).

When thinking about your customers, what social media platforms do they use? There are many apps and sites that people use today, it’s not just about

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn but it can also be Yelp, Google Review, Bing and Trip Advisor. Try and find what your customers social media preferences are.

Getting Started

When first getting started it is a good idea to do a search on the two largest search engines, Google and Bing. In addition, try a search on DuckDuckGo.com, it is a website that doesn’t track you or your searches and because of that you might find results that don’t show up on Google or Bing.

Next, you should search for your company and industry on social media platforms, they all have search functions, you should also consider what would be a relevant #NoNameExample, that your customers or competitors may use.

Google Trends

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If you go to Google Trends it can be really helpful as you can search trends as far back as 12 months ago. You can also select which country you want to search for trends, as well as sub-regions.

Hootesuite & Talkwalker

Hootesuite & Talkwalker are apps made to make social listening easier for businesses. You can look at multiple social media platforms, signed into your profile, and you can create multiple tabs to search for different things. A simple example is you can have a tab to search your Industry in the City you operate in, a separate tab for an upcoming industry conference including trending hashtags, and a tab to watch for Issues and Crises (the plural of Crisis). Hootesuite has a 30 day free trial, after which time are paid options, currently listed at $29 per month. Talkwalker, has paid and free options. Talkwalker has a free demo that does a really good job demonstrating what the app can do for you.

Google Alerts

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It is not a new tool but it is an effective one. Google Alerts has the ability to let you know either daily any words that you are looking for if they come up on the search engine. You have the option of also setting up Google Alerts to send an email to you immediately when your searched term shows up. This is an effective tool but you have to be careful as it does not help you with new or trending terms that may be related to your company.

Influencers

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If you are active on Social Media and there are influencers in your industry, you may find opportunities where you can reach out to an influencer and ask them if you can include a quote from them or if they could share your post or blog. You need to understand many people are asking influencers to share or support their brand or company, you may want to ask if there is something you could do for them. It’s not a one way street and it’s important you remember that

Be Curious

The key to being a good listener is to really hone in on what your customers are saying. If you Listen for Curiosity, Ask Questions, Let People Finish their points, and Repeat back what you heard (Waxman).

In Summary

I’ve focused a lot on what you can learn from and respond to your customers and help keep an eye on what your competitors are doing; but it is crucial that you use everything around you to try and better understand your customers. Your front-line workers will be some of your best sources to understand your customers issues as well as what your competitors are doing. I’ve shown you lots of tools available to you on the internet, both paid and free depending on what’s the right fit for you. Now it’s time for you to unlock your potential.

References

Agnes, M. (2014, December 11). Issue? Crisis? What’s The Difference and Why Is It Important?      Retrieved from https://melissaagnes.com/issue-crisis-whats-difference-important/

Waxman, M. (Director). (n.d.). Social Listening for Marketers [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/HootSuite-tutorials/Welcome/546104/621980-4.html  

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