Most businesses don’t use social listening while those that do don’t really do it in a strategic manner. If you’ve never heard of social listening or haven’t realised its importance yet, then we’ll point you to our post on why is social listening important. You should check that post out before coming back to this one because this post is for those people who already know the significance of social listening. More specifically, this post is for those people who want to reap the numerous benefits of social listening. Here, we share how you should be creating your social listening strategy.
Why Do You Want To Get A Social Listening Strategy In Place?
All journeys must begin with the destination in mind. In the case of any strategy pertaining to your business, this means defining goals. Whenever you need to define a strategy, you need to start by defining what you want to achieve with it.
You can use social listening for achieving a wide variety of goals. All of these possibilities have been listed in the post we’ve linked to above but, in the interest of coherence, we’ll go through them quickly.
- Marketing Analytics: To see the impact of your existing marketing campaigns and strategies.
- Market Research: To get a better understanding of the market so that you can devise a marketing campaign/strategy to tap into it.
- Reputation Management: To manage and control what existing customers and potential customers are saying about your brand, your product, your service, your business, and even your industry.
- Customer Service: To give customers a new, more convenient channel for contacting the business and get better, more public customer service.
- Operational Development: To improve the business’s operations so as to suit the target audience better or develop new products and services for newer market segments.
- Employee Satisfaction: To manage the satisfaction levels of employees as well as foster better interpersonal relationships between teams and departments.
Now, you may feel tempted into thinking that you can create a social listening strategy that caters to all these objectives. You can, of course, do that but that just means that you’ll have to spend exorbitant sums of money. What you need to realise is that if you target all these objectives and only put X amount of money into social listening, then each of your targets will only get X/6 of the funds.
Unless you’re a big corporation, it is unlikely that your social listening budget is going to be enough for two of the aforementioned objectives, leave aside six. Therefore, instead of blowing money away in pursuit of all six objectives, your social listening strategy should revolve around only one or two of these objectives.
What Will Be The Foundation Of Your Social Listening Strategy?
If you look at all the objectives listed above, you’ll realise that your social listening strategy will have relevance for various departments in your business. Social listening would be relevant to the Human Resource department, the Marketing/Adverting/PR Department, the Customer Service/Client Servicing department, and even the Product Development department. Where you establish your social listening process or how you create the process flow for it will have a huge impact on how effective it turns out to be.
Generally, the foundation of your social listening strategy will be defined by the goals or objectives you’re targeting. So, it will be simple for you to decide the foundation or a social listening strategy that has a single goal. The problem arises with multiple goals. While marketing research and marketing analytics are naturally synergistic just like customer service and reputation management, other combinations aren’t.
This means that you’ll have to find a way to bridge multiple departments. This is where the social listening process flow comes in – something that we’ll focus on in the next post. As it is, you’ll probably have to prioritise your goals and then root your social process from the goal/department that is the most significant to your business. The secondary objective/department becomes supplementary in this case.
Which Social Media Platforms Will You Monitor?
There’s no shortage of social media platforms, these days, but a few dominate the landscape. These include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram amongst others. Every social media platform has its own unique characteristics that align with various objectives and goals.
For example, if your business is associated with food, then you may want to monitor Instagram along with other platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest. On the other hand, if you offer legal services, then these image centric platforms would be pointless for you. You would instead be better off focusing on LinkedIn.
Other demographic and psychographic aspects of your target audience are also important. If your audience isn’t mainly located in North America, then you may not want to focus heavily on Twitter. If your audience is very young, then you may want to focus on new social media platforms such as Snapchat.
Deciding which platform to monitor is directly related to your objectives, goals, market segment, industry, and target audience metrics. This is why it should be a key step in the creation of your social listening strategy.
What Metrics And Topics Will You Measure?
Imagine all the people on social media. They all have their unique personalities, styles, and circles. On each of the social media platforms, there are various ways through which these unique personalities can engage with each other and with content. All of these individuals can engage through any number of things including your brand and business name. On top of this, there are non-brand associated words and subjects that these individuals will talk about. Every social media platform even has its own way of evaluating engagement which is delivered to business owners on their respective analytics dashboards.
Every line in the paragraph above adds trillions of new engagement metrics for you to consider. It is the typical case of information overload, something that probably gave birth to the industry of Big Data. You cannot process all that information unless you reduce what you listen to. This is why you need to figure out which metrics to listen to at the strategy formation phase. The metrics you can consider following include:
- Brand name,
- Business name,
- Product name,
- Competitor brands,
- Competitor products,
- Industry names,
- Trending words or phrases in your industry,
- Names of front ending individuals for your firm,
- Branded hashtags, and
- Influencer names etc.
Who Will Implement Your Social Listening Strategy?
Despite what you may think, social listening is a specialised skill. You can’t just hire a millennial (because they’re always on social media) and pop him in front of a computer to listen. You need a skilled social analyst who’ll know what to listen to, how to listen to it, what to do to sift through it, and where to look for actionable intelligence.
This social listening analyst position needs to be associated with the foundation you chose for your social listening strategy in the earlier step. For example, if product development is your primary objective, then you need a social media analyst who understands the fundamentals of product development. If your goal is marketing analytics, then you need an analyst equally skilled in analytics and social media. You can’t have a marketing focused analyst implementing your social listening strategy when your goal is customer service.
The social listening analyst, of course, can’t work alone. Even if he has a marketing background, you can’t expect him to have the same insights that your marketing head will have. The same applies to all other objectives. Therefore, you need to put in place a system for information flow and the best time to do it is while you’re creating your social listening strategy.
Who briefs the social media analyst? Where do the documents he creates go for vetting? Do they go to multiple individuals or divisions? What actionable intelligence is he supposed to be looking for and how deep he needs to delve into any particular tidbit of information? These are only a few questions that you’ll need to ask while you’re creating your social listening strategy. Once you have the information flow and the level of interdepartmental involvement defined, your social listening strategy is complete and you’re all set to implement it.