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How to Use Social Listening to Grow Your Brand

How to Use Social Listening to Grow Your Brand

Social media and digital marketing had evolved a lot in the last few years. In 2011, digital marketing was still in its infancy; everyone was still trying to figure out what worked, what didn’t, and what exactly they needed to be doing, and where. At the same time, we have seen the rise of so-called “influencers”, that is, highly influential non-celebrity bloggers that run online brands specifically revolving around their personality and the products they use.

There are beauty influencers; there are home decor influencers. There are influencers on Instagram and Twitter, on Snapchat and Pinterest. Influencers have come to dominate social media—and as a result, marketing is affected as well. As we wrote last week, influencer marketing can be a big business and it teaches us a lot about consumer behavior.

There is another aspect of social media marketing that teaches us a lot about consumer behavior: social listening. We’ve been hearing more and more about social listening in the last few years, so we put on our research hats and got to work.


What Is Social Listening?


Firstly, when it comes to social listening, it’s important to know exactly what it is. Social listening is often said to be the observation and tracking of conversations regarding your brand; but that’s just one piece of it, really. There is much more to social listening than just that.

Social listening can also include tracking specific keywords, phrases, and niches to observe trends and consumer behavior, then using that information to better engage with and create content for your audience.

Let’s look at an example: if you ran a company that sold dry fruit, you wouldn’t want to just track mentions of your brand and product. If you’re a small company, that might be a small amount of chatter. You might want to also track conversations about dried fruit, health food, and more; that way, you can better provide content to attract new people to your brand. You also might engage with users asking questions about dried fruit products and their health benefits.

If you restrict social listening to just your specific mentions and comments, as well as to only conversations surrounding your brand, you can miss out on opportunities to further engage with those who might be interested in your brand.


How Can Social Listening Help Marketing?


So when it comes to social listening, how can it impact your digital marketing strategy? Here are a few examples.

1. You can use information gained from social listening to adjust your ad campaigns. If you’re serving ads for your dried fruit (to return to our previous example) to those searching for dried fruit, health products, and breakfast ideas, you might think you’ve hit every possible niche. But when you start engaging in social listening, you might find that consumers are asking questions about the best dried fruit for kids, other ways they can use dried fruit in cooking, and more. That can give you more ideas for ad campaigns to gain even more customers.

2. You can use social listening to adjust your brand’s messaging. Let’s say you’ve never considered providing information on the health benefits of dried fruit. Your brand’s message is entirely about the convenience of dried fruit—but through social listening, you realize that many are asking questions about the health benefits of dried fruit, whether dried fruit is as healthy as fresh, and more. By adjusting your brand’s messaging to include information about healthy eating habits, you can answer those questions and provide content to better help consumers.

3. Social listening helps you engage with your customers and their concerns. Let’s say you notice quite a few conversations about your dried fruit on social media that have to do with problems with shipping. You start to respond to these conversations and ask them what happened. You realize that you need to make adjustments to how your business gets orders out the door; this leads you to renovate your process and ultimately doing a better job serving customers. If you hadn’t been tuned in to listening for these conversations on social media, you never would have known!

4. Engaging with customers shows humanity and authenticity. Some brands are large enough that they will always be impersonal (think McDonalds and Target). However, small- and medium-sized businesses have the benefit of being able to be more personable and, therefore, authentic with their customers. Engaging in conversations about your brand, product, and niche can help spread the word about your business and gain more customers.


Getting Started


A survey in 2017 found that 66% of retail and banking companies felt that they “deeply know” their customers. However, only 41% of their customers agreed with that sentiment.

Social listening, if nothing else, allows businesses to better understand their current and potential customers. When you know your customers, you can better provide not just customer service, but tailor your products and marketing to fit their needs. Social listening empowers you to do just that: get to know your potential customers, learn what potential customers want from a product like yours, and much more.

To get started in social listening, you can use almost any social media tool. Hootsuite, specifically, has tools that make it easy to monitor not just mentions of your brand directly, but mentions of your brand where you aren’t tagged, as well as keywords related to your product and niche.

Getting started might seem overwhelming at first. There is a lot of information out there and there is a lot of conversation happening on social media at all times. Sifting through this amount of information can leave you feeling like it’s easier to just leave it be! Here are a few tips:

  • Start small. Don’t try to tackle every keyword related to your business or brand. You might notice that some keywords get more content than others. Focus on the smaller ones at first, then expand.


  • Spend 10 minute intervals on listening. We know you (or your marketing team) doesn’t have hours every day to spend sifting through social media. Instead, dedicate 10 minutes per day to start; you might find in that time you get ideas for marketing content, an AdWords campaign, or a new way to promote your product, so take notes. As time goes on and you become more efficient at sorting through information, you can increase the time you spend on social listening.


  • Focus on action items. When you first start, you’ll want to focus more on creating action items, versus analyzing the information you find via social listening. Create action items to increase leads or improve your brand, then later, you can try using social listening to gather data about your customers and potential customers.
Are You Ready to Start Your Project?