The Power of Social Listening

We are all on social in some form. Even if you’re not posting, I am sure you are engaging and your Digital Body Language™ is still providing some behavioural data to a digital marketer.

The fact is that every comment, like, favourite, retweet can be used in a positive way to guide a digital marketers actions so they can provide content which should be of value to you.

I strongly believe every business should be adjusting their marketing strategy to make sure they are understanding the social movements of their clients or prospects – we call it social listening

So what is social listening all about?

To explain it in simple terms, social listening is researching your audience to understand their online behaviour and then making smart business decisions off the back of this information. What do they want, what is being said about your brand, how are they engaging at events and so forth?

With a multitude of platforms now available to your audience, it is critical that you understand where they are residing and where discussions about your brand are at maximum volume.

“89% of Marketers want to know the best way to engage their audience” – Freely.net

By listening and learning to your audience you can begin to understand the sentiment as to what is being said regarding your brand and start making smarter decisions regarding your social media campaigns.

The Tools

The challenge that most people would find is cutting through the noise so your findings are relevant to your needs.

You can definitely log onto the normal channels and spend hours digging through pages, across all channels or reading over the web, however there are tools out there that can help you.

Oracle Social Relationship Management (SRM) is one tool that uses a process called Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) to fight through the noise. LSA uses an algorithm to distinguish between conversations with words that might have similar meanings. It scans over 700 million sites including social, blogs, forums, news and consumer review sites.

For example, if you’re after conversations regarding social media strategy and you look for the keyword ‘social,’ LSA could help to identify two types of conversations, one regarding social media websites and the other could be regarding social strategy (see screenshot below)

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Using Oracle SRM you could then make the choice of ‘more like this’ or ‘less like this’ and begin to bring up the conversations that you want to see by way of segmenting through the themes.

Introducing you to Topics 

Topics are set up whenever undertaking listening tasks. These topics help you to seperate your conversations and ensure that you are listening for the correct information.

For example, are you listening for conversations about your brand or are you listening for opportunities in the market? You will quickly learn that you will have similar findings such as key influencers and communities that keep appearing as popular channels of engagement.

Therefore when creating topics, employ the following:

  • Have an idea on what you’re looking for e.g products, competitors or your brand
  • Identify areas where discussions are taking place e.g. user forums or B2B networking sites such as LinkedIn
  • Listen first before you engage
  • Allow your listening campaigns to run their course. You will need more then a few days to pull in conversations before attempting to understand the social landscape
  • Make a list of keywords that you believe are being talked about or that you wish to target

I can’t stress enough about listening first before engaging. Too often you will see interactions or incorrect content as organisations attempting to oversell their products or brands. You need to understand the groups first, what is trending, when posts are most popular and not be too intrusive when generating discussion.

What Insights Should You Expect To Capture?

So by now, you’ve got your topics set up, you’re pulling in conversations but you’re not sure what to do with all this information?

You will find standard metrics such as age, gender and location but what I believe is more important are insights such as sentiment, spike levels and influencers. However, let’s take a look at a few demographics first.

What country are your topics dominant in? If you’re finding that Australia and New Zealand are not as engaged as the U.S then you can understand this topic, perhaps a product, might not be as influential in the southern hemisphere as it is in the northern.

What Age group are you reaching? Is your content being produced for millennials yet the age group that is captured falls outside this bracket? This is a sure sign that you could change your content be more targeted.

Which sites are most popular? You might find that forums are the most dominant so maybe you should be spending more time in these, listening to the conversation here.

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Are the spike levels above the norm?
If you’ve had your listening topic set for a lengthy period of time, you should realise when unusual trends in your conversations occur.

For example, If you’ve just released a new product and wish to monitor how it’s being received, you might notice large spikes initially as there is excitement and generally more conversations taking place. However, if the product conversations begin to spike 6 months down the road then you need to understand what is causing this movement.

How long will the spikes continue for? Here you’re looking at data you’ve pulled in and anticipating the length of time for spikes based off your knowledge or on the back of historical data. By listening to the sentiment of the conversations you can make decisions on whether to engage or not.

For example, maybe there is a fault in the product and now the media has become involved so marketing should advise PR on these conversations to provide support on an engagement campaign.

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Insight gathered from listening identifies content that is relevant to your audience and enables a clearer understanding as to what provides a positive sentiment. So if you haven’t done so already then incorporate listening into your social marketing strategy and build campaigns with valuable information to an audience waiting to receive it.

If you would like to learn more about listening and the strategies behind Social Marketing then download the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Social Marketing here.