Social Listening: Benefits, Tools, Tips
Social media has given people a megaphone through which to share ideas, advice, and opinions about brands they do business with and products they buy. Such sharing can wield powerful influence among their network members.
Forbes, reporting on a survey of 12,000 U.S. and U.K. consumers, found that 81 percent of U.S. respondents believed “posts from their friends directly influenced their purchase decision.”
If people are talking about your brand on social networks, it makes sense to pay attention to what they are saying. This article lists the benefits associated with social listening, six tools you can use, along with a few recommendations to aid your efforts.
Benefits to Social Listening
Three benefits are associated with social listening.
- You will know where conversations are taking place. Whether on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, in blogs, forums, or even the mainstream press, if you know where the conversation is happening, you’ll know where to go to respond.
- You will know what topics are being discussed. This information provides insight to what is on people’s minds and what they care about. You will also become aware of keywords people are using that you can incorporate into search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, or content marketing efforts.
- You will find who the influencers are. While everyone’s voice matters, some matter more than others due to their reach and influence. Once identified, you can begin building relationships that may result in their extending such influence on your behalf.
Social Listening Tools
One way to listen is to employ a do-it-yourself approach using RSS feed readers (such as Feedly), Google alerts, and Twitter search. You can also add tools such as BoardReader, a search engine for forums and discussion boards, and Social Mention, a free social media search and analysis tool.
The difficulty with this approach is that data coming in from these platforms require collection, organization, and filtering, which makes it difficult to track everything.
Instead, a number of software applications are available that can help you listen more comprehensively and effectively. Each of these go beyond basic aggregation and provide detailed insights, including sentiment analysis and trend tracking.
They pull data from all quarters of the social media sphere, including blogs, social networks, image and video sites, chat rooms, forums and micro-blogs, as well as from mainstream media. Though a cost is involved, the benefit is that they do the hard work, saving you time and trouble. Also, most offer a free trial to allow you to test the product before committing any money.
Once data is compiled, most offer detailed reporting features. Some even alert you to a pending crisis should one occur, allowing for a quicker, more timely response.
Starting at $27 per month, Trackur is one of the least expensive options. But it still provides a variety of reputation management components including share of voice tracking, sentiment analysis, and influence monitoring.
Sprout Social is a social media management tool that includes reputation monitoring and reporting capabilities. You can search for brand mentions not directly linked to your social accounts, find potential followers with similar interests, monitor competitors, and stay up to date on industry news. Prices start at $39 per month.
Simplify360 is a web-based social media engagement and analytics platform that lets you engage with your customers, and analyze and interpret the social mentions of your brand. Simplify360 consolidates the conversations happening about your brand from social media communities and presents actionable insights. Prices range from $45 to $299 per month.
Beevolve positions itself as an “all-in-one social media monitoring and measurement software” designed expressly for small business. You can monitor brand mentions, schedule and launch social media campaigns and measure resulting sales and engagement from those campaigns. Prices start at $49.95 per month.
Colibri refers to its platform as a “growth hacking” tool that uses data analysis and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. Not only does Colibri monitor social media sites, but it also provides SEO guidance in the form of keyword positioning, backlinks, and on-page SEO analysis. It integrates with Google Analytics to correlate SEO performance with website traffic and conversions. Pricing starts at $45 per month.
According to its website, BrandsEye is the only tool that comprehensively tracks every online mention of your brand, while having the capability to generate a precise score that accurately reflects the state of your online reputation. Brandseye is more expensive and starts at $220 per month.
Social Listening Tips
An element that will make listening efforts more useful are the keywords you choose. Select keywords and phrases from the following categories: brand names, products, services, and the name of the company owner, CEO and C-level executives, as well as industry terms and competitors.
If you listen and find no one is talking, jump start the conversation by creating quality content focused on the interests and needs of your customers and prospects. If a conversation is already occurring, find ways to reward those who speak well of you and, in a courteous fashion, address those who spread misinformation.