This will be the fifth post that we’re putting up on social listening. That’s right folks; we’ve shared four posts on this subject already. Are you wondering why? We believe that social listening is something that all businesses should pursue. Businesses are already aware that social media platforms have become as important (if not more) as search engines when it comes to reaching target audiences. What businesses don’t know is that the proper way of leveraging the power of social media platforms is through social listening. Despite its importance, though, social listening remains a new term for many business owners. Social listening angles that we’ve already covered include the following (we do strongly recommend that you read these):
This, our fifth social listening post will round things off by providing you with a list of social listening best practices that you should follow while you implement your social listening strategy.
Why Focus On Social Listening Best Practices?
Go on, say it.
You’ve been using it as your personal megaphone where you just announce whatever you think your business needs to announce. Some of you may even be trying to amuse your followers with your personal brand of humour.
In a nutshell, there’s been no strategy, no overlying principle, no coherence in your marketing messages, and no congruence between your offline and online marketing campaigns.
What you’ve been doing is equivalent to standing at your doorstep with your eyes closed and offering the same product to anyone and everyone passing you in the street. Even if you have your eyes open, you’ll be selling your wares to people without actually letting them talk back to you.
Selling is as much about listening to the prospective buyer as it is listing the qualities of your products and business. You want to know what they’re trying to say. You want to let them get a word in.
Heck, you want to eavesdrop on what they’re saying to each other while passing you by. You may be able to join in on their conversation. This is what social listening is.
Since you can’t just butt in on a private conversation without an “excuse me”, you need social listening best practices. More importantly, you can’t just listen in on everyone in the world – they may not even be talking about you. You need to find conversations that are actually relevant to you.
Hearing a piece of a complex conversation won’t lead you anywhere either. You also need to figure the conversation out. All this becomes easier if you follow social listening best practices.
Always Look For Context
You hear two people talking. One says “Kill him” to the other. Do you call the police? Depends on where you heard them talking, right? For all you know, it is two teenagers playing a video game.
Meanings are often hidden in context. This is a lesson that you need to always keep in mind and especially if you’re planning to put in place a social listening strategy. Nowhere is context more important than in social listening.
Once you start paying attention, you’ll note that people talk about things differently on different platforms. For example, the nature and tone of statements in the comments section of a blog may be different from a status update on Facebook.
If your product is mentioned in a blog comment, then it is likely to be in passing and as a metaphor. In other words, its mention is there to prove a completely separate point.
On the other hand, if it is mentioned on Facebook as a status update, then you can rest assured that it is a form of appraisal. It could be positive or negative both but it will be an appraisal of some kind.
The ongoing conversation is as important as the location of the mention when it comes to context. Two people may be discussing the greatest brands and someone may mention your brand or they may be discussing the lamest brands with your brand in the mix. You will not understand what they’re discussing unless you look beyond your mention. This is why paying attention to context is considered such an important item in this list of social listening best practices.
Gather Intelligence on Your Competitors
If you run a business and don’t focus on your competitors, then you’re either a genius inventor with a patented product or a patented fool with no genius invention anywhere in your body. If you don’t look at others in the field, how can you know that you’re doing well? More importantly, our competitors will always be our best teachers.
Observing what people have to say about your competitors and also how your competitors respond to such mentions will have a lot of lessons for your business with respect to your industry. You will not only figure out what strategies work in your industry but also the ones that don’t by simply watching your competitors make mistakes.
If you were to decide that you don’t want to follow all these social listening best practices, you’ll be giving up key intelligence on your competitors, your industry and your target audiences. Consequently, you can be sure that you’ll make the aforementioned mistakes and your competitors will end up learning from you.
Gather Intelligence but Convert It into Actionable Intelligence
Half of social listening is about gathering intelligence. This half is known as social monitoring and is often confused with social listening on the whole. The second half of social listening is about converting the gathered intelligence into actionable intelligence. The difference between these two halves can be explained as knowing that there is water in the well and knowing how to get to that water.
Gathering intelligence or social monitoring will reveal to you that there is water in the well but when you convert it into actionable intelligence, you essentially figure out how to get to that water. Actionable intelligence just means that you’ve used your findings to put in place new strategies, techniques, and systems designed to improve the business.
An example of raw intelligence is that health conscious people want Omega 3 fortified food items. Making this intelligence actionable will be you adding a new item to your product line that is fortified with Omega 3 nutrition.
Ensure That All Departments Collaborate
Social listening is like dipping into a long lost treasure chest that nobody has any clue about – you can find any type of trinket in it. You can find the necklace of marketing or the ring of customer service. You can even find the crown of product development. For this reason, when you put in place a social listening strategy, you should ensure that your entire business is ready to take advantage of the findings.
To this end, you need to prepare your business even before you hit the ‘start’ button on your plans. You need to prepare various department heads to be ready to make improvements and changes to how things are done. You need to set up a system where social listening reports become accessible to everyone at the same time. And, you need to set up a system where everyone has the option to analyse the data being received and resultantly create policy changes.
Incorporating a market analytics and research system such as social listening means that your business’s entire operational pipeline will come into play sooner or later. You want to be prepared for the windfall, otherwise, it will blow away in the wind like so much sand.