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Social Listening: Your Tool to Success on Social Media

Last updated on March 3, 2021
6 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • What is social listening?
  • The differences between social listening and social monitoring.
  • How successful social listening improves your reputation & drives bookings.

Skill Level

Beginner, Advanced

Successful engagement on social media (and elsewhere) includes creating and sharing high-quality, compelling content and visuals. You’re already doing the right thing by posting regular business updates, sharing fun videos and memes, and creating ads to capture your followers’ attention. But to be truly successful on social media and to help control your social reputation, your presence can’t be one-sided. Unlike other forms of digital marketing like email or pay-per-click, a unique feature of social media is that it allows for two-way and multi-way communication between the host and their followers.

That’s where social listening comes in.

What Is Social Listening?

Simply put, social listening is all about paying attention to how your audience responds to and interacts with your brand’s social posts. Using the insights you gain from social listening allows you to act on new business opportunities. 

What Are Your Customers Saying on Your Social Channels?

At a minimum, you should monitor your brand’s social channels for:

  • Direct mentions of your company name
  • Customer feedback or comments on your posts
  • Discussions regarding or related to your target keywords or popular industry topics that relate to your business

Responding to Comments

  • Respond to as many direct mentions and comments as possible.
  • Review the responses and identify ways to improve how you interact with your audience.
  • Use the insights you gain to act on new business opportunities.

Pro tip: Are there themes or questions that come up repeatedly that could be addressed or answered on your website or FAQ section?

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring

The terms social monitoring and social listening are often used interchangeably, but there’s actually a difference between the two. While social monitoring keeps track of social media mentions and comments, social listening is a more comprehensive, two-part process that begins with social monitoring and continues with an analysis of the results and actionable responses.

The primary purpose of social listening is to meet your customers’ needs by using their conversations to implement long-term business strategies, while the purpose of social monitoring is often to do damage control and react/respond only to negative mentions. 

It’s a lot like responding to positive and negative reviews. It’s one thing to get an awesome 5-star review — but showing your customers that you care enough to respond to their reviews gives your business’ reputation a positive boost. Social listening follows the same principle.

Why Should You Care About Social Listening?

1. You get to be a part of the conversation.

People follow your brand on social media to keep up with the happenings at your business but also to have conversations about your industry. Whether they comment on your posts to offer criticism or praise, your customers want to feel heard, and they like when you respond. 

According to Sprout Social:

83% of respondents like it when brands respond to questions

68% like when brands participate in conversations

Next time a follower asks a question about your beginner kayak tour or comments on a thread about the best kayak spots in your area, be a good social listener and join in on the conversation!

2. You get free advice from real customers.

Practicing social listening offers many valuable insights into your business. You’ll get a better understanding of the kinds of content your followers like to see as well as aspects of your business they like or think need improvement. 

shapeFor example, let’s say you run food tours and receive the following feedback on social media: 

  • Scenario: You recently shared a holiday promotion on Facebook. One of the commenters mentions that they wish they were in town to take advantage of the deal.
  • Action: Respond telling them that they can purchase a gift card to take a tour in the future.
  • Scenario: Another person comments that they want to book a tour but felt rushed during their last tour because they thought the business squeezed too many restaurants into the experience.
  • Action: Make note of this information and pay attention to your social channels and reviews to see if anyone else feels that way. Based on that insight, your business should consider making the tour time longer or visiting fewer restaurants per tour.

A well-rounded tour company on social media posts engaging content and follows up with followers as often as possible.

Challenge Yourself

Social listening not only helps you make your customers feel heard but also helps you identify opportunities to make valuable changes to your business. Chances are your brand is probably already doing some sort of social monitoring, so take it a step further and think about ways to improve your social media and marketing strategies based on what your followers have to say. Set a goal to reply to your social mentions on a regular schedule to stay on top of your social media presence!

Looking for more social media guides? Learn about what not to do on social and how to create content that goes viral to up your game.

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