The Importance of Social Listening

March 03, 2021
By iQ Staff
Illustration of a person listening intently with communication icons like messages and Wi-Fi.

Consumers regularly engage on public forums such as Reddit, Twitter, and Yelp to swap product and service reviews. By all accounts, this dialogue represents a treasure trove of insights for marketers. Yet, companies often miss out on this data because sifting through such an overwhelming volume of conversations to find valuable nuggets can seem daunting.

Social monitoring tools such as Agorapulse and Mention bring “social listening,” or tuning in to what’s being said about your brand, within reach. These services can capture, filter, aggregate, and categorize comments across platforms and automate assigning them to specific departments. Using these types of technologies can enable your communications team to more easily find valuable data-driven insights that can inform your business decisions.


"In our data-driven world, social listening has become critical to corporate communications."


Whether your company monitors social media on its own or uses special monitoring tools, here are the top four ways companies can leverage social listening:


1. Source brand and customer insights

Social listening is a great way to check the pulse of consumer sentiment toward your organization, competitors, and your industry. Monitoring social media mentions and conversations will help you understand your brand’s reputation without costly focus groups. Understanding customer needs enables companies to develop better products and services and ultimately provides the necessary data to craft hyper-relevant communications tailored to your audiences’ interests. Social monitoring can also help identify micro-brand advocates and leverage their followings to reach the widest audience.


2. Manage customer expectations and prevent crises

It’s gratifying to see a glowingly positive review online. But what about negative social media mentions? Tech-savvy consumers, and journalists who may be monitoring the situation, expect swift responses from companies via social media. Unaddressed, negative opinions and customer issues can spiral out of control or galvanize onlookers to join the fray.

Empower your marketing team to speak decisively and quickly on behalf of the organization when complaints or pointed questions arise; they should also have a crisis communications plan in place so that they can successfully manage the situation and adhere to agreed-upon protocols. Or suppose you’ve posted to social media and receive multiple comments that your content may be offensive, inaccurate, or inappropriate; train your marketing team to quickly review or remove content that consumers flag -- and issue an apology if necessary.


3. Improve campaigns, products and services

Monitoring social media mentions can provide direction on how to adjust plans or create lean marketing campaigns or messaging. For example, monitoring tweets in real-time during a press conference can help you gauge whether messages are resonating and whether your spokespeople are believable and connecting with the audience.

You can also use social listening to pinpoint customer expectations and close gaps by updating marketing messages or improving your service or product. Because social media allows consumers to cut through the red tape and air grievances in the open, their comments can seem amplified. But the public forum can speed up resolution of issues and change a company for the better. Your communications team, leveraging social listening tools, can alert the appropriate departments when something arises, and quickly address customer questions or problems.


4. Gain competitive intelligence

Marketers can use social listening to monitor what consumers are saying about the competition. By digitally “eavesdropping” on brand rivals, you can uncover ways to differentiate your organization or appeal to clients who aren’t satisfied with their services. This is also an opportunity to enhance your understanding of industry trends and challenges, and to learn from any innovative approaches that might actually be working.


The Takeaway

Don’t ignore free, accessible insights that come straight from your own customers. While sifting through vast quantities of social media data points is indeed a challenging task, the benefits of social listening can be well worth the cost and effort.