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Why do we need social listening?

This article introduces learners to the importance of social listening in social media marketing. Let's discuss.

Social platforms are where people congregate around the things they care about. It’s where they express some of their strongest emotions about the things in their lives, including products, services and brands.

Social listening allows you to tap into the thoughts, emotions and conversations of your online audience. This offers you an incredible insight when tailoring your products, proposition and messaging.

Social media listening vs social media monitoring

Often performed by the same software, Social Media Listening and Social Media Monitoring are two very similar activities. However, they have different aims.

Social media monitoring

Social media monitoring consists in having a system in place where you are notified in real-time when your brand is mentioned online, allowing you to promptly respond.

Social media listening

Social media listening, on the other hand, is data-based research which should take place in the early phase of campaign briefing. It allows you to answer questions about your audience.

Use social listening to ask questions to and about your audience, such as:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they think of your brand (if they know it exists)?
  • How positively or negatively do people talk about you?
  • What issues are they having with your products or buying process?
  • What problems do potential customers have that your brand could solve?
  • How do people react to your marketing activity?

Before the advent of social media, such data was hard to obtain as it was only gathered through panels and surveys. Social listening instead, allows you to listen in on unprompted, authentic conversations – a goldmine for anyone planning a marketing campaign.

Gain the upper hand on your competitors

While creativity and a degree of intuition remain at the heart of great marketing, failing to utilise social listening methods could mean missing out on opportunities to resonate with your audience in new ways.

Social listening methods could get you the upper hand on your competitors.

The value of social listening evolves

Be aware that the value of social listening has changed over the last decade, and will continue to do so as social media evolves.

While the digital world is much more visual these days, many users do not use descriptions for images and videos as marketers would hope to be done (e.g. using ‘proper’ brand terms or product names so we can track them).

Beware of private, visual platforms

Additionally, private, mobile-only, visual platforms like Snapchat and TikTok – often referred to as ‘dark social’ – are mostly impenetrable and have no text for listening software to read.

This means that social listening is largely reliant on Twitter and blogs and to some degree Facebook, for significant amounts of data to analyse.

Also, think about the section of your audience this affords access to. Will the demographic profile of these people represent your wider consumer?

Statistics about how people in the UK use social media

If you’d like to learn more about social media strategy, check out the full online course, from the Institute of Data and Marketing, below. 

This article is from the free online

Understanding Social Media Strategy

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