Social Media Listening: An Effective Way to Understand Your Audience

One of the most important aspects of a digital marketing strategy is to understand exactly what it is that your audience likes, doesn’t like, and struggles with. Getting this answer is easier said than done, and this is where social listening comes in. Social listening is the process of tracking social media platforms for conversations related to your brand or industry. Read on to learn more about social listening, how it can benefit your business, and tips to implement it in your strategy.

The importance of social listening

Imagine that you are an automotive company and believe that your target audience struggles with most cars not having enough legroom; however, in reality, they don’t struggle with this issue. If this is the case, your marketing efforts and all of the changes you make in your products to fix that issue will not be very effective, since they are not solving a real and/or common problem! That problem stems from misunderstanding your audience. Did you know that to decide what type of movie or show to create next, Netflix uses data including their most popular genres, actors, and other data points, all as a form of listening? This is part of the reason why they are so successful and know exactly what their users would want to watch next.

Effective social listening provides a big-picture view of your audience’s demographics and interests within your industry. Social listening also helps to understand your audience’s views towards your own brand, such as whether they like a certain product or service. In addition, social listening can provide insights into your competitors, such as what they are doing well and what they aren’t. This information is very useful in shaping the future of your own brand since you won’t need to make the same mistakes that your competitors have made.

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Benefits of social listening

The most important and obvious benefit of social listening is that you can better understand your audience. You can see specific interactions, including when people really love one of your products,  have a specific problem with it, or even when they mention a struggle they are having that one of your products solves.

Furthermore, with social listening, you can stay ahead of the game (and ahead of your competitors) and solve new problems or answer questions before your competitors do. Often, political and social issues may have impacts on your brand and its products, so keeping track of recent events can allow you to act in a proactive manner rather than reactive.

Finally, social listening can identify possible collaborations with other creators in your industry whose expertise and/or large following can greatly benefit your brand awareness. Creators and influencers are respected within their space, so their audience will readily believe and engage with the content they share. According to Hootsuite, “If people within the community see you as an active partner in supporting the creators they admire, they’ll be more likely to trust that you have their best interests at heart too.”

How to implement social listening

Follow these few steps and you will be well on your way to better understanding your audience:

  1. Listen for relevant keywords and topics: Pick keywords such as your brand name, products, key people in your company, industry keywords, and competitors’ names.

  2. Focus your efforts on platforms that you know have a lot of conversation: Different social platforms have different types of uses and content. For example, Twitter is a much more conversation-heavy platform than TikTok, so social listening on Twitter is likely to be more insightful and useful than on TikTok (but this all depends on your brand and where its target audience is most active).

  3. Filter searches: If you are a local business in Toronto, you likely do not need to worry about opinions from Europe, so it will save you time if you filter your listening by location.

  4. Use insights gained from social listening to create change: Social listening is useless if it is not used to create meaningful change within your brand that benefits your audience and creates a better brand image. Identify trends in your research and use them to guide the direction your brand goes in.

  5. Use the best tools: While manual listening (conducting individual searches separately and then manually combining data into meaningful results) is possible, it is highly time-inefficient. Some of the best tools for automatic and comprehensive social listening include Hootsuite, Sprout Social, and Talkwalker.

Key takeaways

With there being so much competition between brands in every industry, it is important to focus your marketing efforts and brand goals in ways that most benefit your audience. Efforts are wasted if they are not focusing on the correct target audience, so your brand should use social listening to better understand your audience, industry, and competitors.

If you have any questions about social listening or are wondering how we can help your business, contact an UpOnline representative today!

The Rise of Conversational Marketing and Chatbots

We’ve all visited a website where a chatbot notifies you as soon as the page is loaded, asking if you need help or have any questions. Chatbots, and conversational marketing as a whole, have gained popularity and maturity very quickly in the past few years, so we thought it’s worth discussing the good and bad and promoting best practices in this particular niche. Read on to see how your business can benefit from conversational marketing and how to implement it effectively!

What is conversational marketing?

According to Giosg, conversational marketing is defined as a dialogue-driven approach to marketing whereby customers can engage in a live conversation with either a human or an automated and AI-powered chatbot. Real-time conversations with customers can be effective and efficient methods of reaching your brand’s goals, whether that is to create stronger customer relationships or generate additional sales. Conversational marketing also allows brands to communicate more in real-time and leave behind day-long response wait times for questions.

Trending social messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have made it very easy for brands to communicate quickly and directly with their customers. It is no surprise that these platforms have grown to 1.5 billion and 1.3 billion monthly users, respectively, and exist as a destination where brands often want to leverage their presence. Many brands have established a very reachable presence on these social messaging apps to make it known to customers that they are available to them quickly and easily.

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The benefits of conversational marketing

There are quite a few benefits that conversational marketing provides and that have contributed to its rapid implementation. As you read through these benefits, think about how your brand is currently doing in these areas and how conversational marketing can improve them:

A convenient way for customers to get answers

More people navigate websites on their phones than on their computers. Mobile users also prefer messaging-based interactions, largely because it is perceived that it can be easier to get an answer through messaging than through scrolling chunks of text on a website.

With the increase in usage of chatbots, customers are also able to get their answers 24/7. Customers’ patience levels are gradually decreasing, and many don’t want to wait until your business opens up to get their answer. If they see that you’re not available at the time that they want their answer, they will likely find a competitor that is! 24/7 chatbot availability also appeals to businesses that have customers in other countries and timezones; it can be hard to have a human support team available 24/7 for all timezones, but chatbots shine in this area.

A great way to gather insights about customers

Messaging with customers allows them to provide open-ended responses with the freedom to express their thoughts and feelings about your services or products. In addition, in cases where it is a human representing your brand, they also have a bit of freedom to comment on customer feedback and engage in further conversation. Contrast this with many other digital marketing methods (websites, ads, and email marketing), which are mostly one-sided and event-driven. It is relatively hard for customers to provide feedback through these channels. For example, although some email newsletters are able to accept replies that go directly to the brand, customers don’t typically think to do so. In other cases, the company may have set up a do-not-reply email address, in which case it is not possible for someone to send direct feedback or comments. Combine the open discussion that comes from conversational marketing with the possibility of keeping a record of the conversations, and it’s evident how conversational marketing can be used to identify trends and pain points within your customer demographic.

An effective way to build customer relationships

Many people would be ashamed or embarrassed to ask some of their questions to a real person, so using a chatbot to ask them is the perfect solution. And the same goes in the opposite direction: chatbots can ask customers questions that would otherwise be awkward or uncomfortable if it was part of real-life interactions.

Chatbots also allow your brand to express itself through the use of personalized/unique replies, emojis, images, and more! If customers have a fun and unique time interacting with your brand, they will be more likely to remember you and come back again. 

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Disadvantages of conversational marketing

Although conversational marketing presents a great opportunity for businesses to invest in and grow their business, there are a few pain points to be aware of. At the end of the day, chatbots simply aren’t human, so they will not be able to converse as naturally as a human would. Even with the best programming and automation currently available, there will be times when the response that the chatbot gives doesn’t really make sense or doesn’t give the customer the answer that they are looking for. This can lead to frustration from the customer and a negative experience with your brand, making them less likely to convert or return. Furthermore, in cases where you have a live human representing your brand, it can be costly to have someone engaging in 1:1 conversations with customers.

How you can implement conversational marketing into your brand’s strategy

According to Drift, there are three key steps to successfully implementing conversational marketing within your brand:

1: Engage

Compliment existing lead forms on your website by adding chatbots. Even if the questions that you use in the chatbot are similar to those asked in the lead forms, visitors that have a preference for chat-based interactions will find it easier to use the chatbot. 

A key benefit of chatbot over lead forms is that you can use them across multiple pages (in a non-obstructive way) so that they are visible to customers at any point of their visit. You can also customize the chatbot to target people based on their actions on the website. For example, if someone is viewing a page for a specific service, the chatbot can display a message catered to that service!

2: Understand

With chatbots and live messaging, you’ll be able to understand what your customers want within just a few messages, rather than across multiple emails and several days. Chatbots often have features built into them that allow them to recommend the most relevant next steps. But note that customers may not complete major actions or decisions based on suggestions of the chatbot. This takes us to the next step…

3: Recommend

Connecting your customers with a real person will make them much more likely to take the actions that you want them to, such as booking an appointment. For example, after a chatbot interacts with a customer and provides them with some information about the service they are interested in, you could recommend that the customer books a free consultation appointment with one of your staff.

Key takeaways

In the past few years, there has been a big shift in how businesses see and interact with their customers. Businesses are being less business-centric (focusing on methods and experiences that work for them) in favour of being customer-centric, where they focus on giving customers personalized experiences based on what works best for them. This is the new standard that companies are expected to adopt if they want to compete with others in their industry.

With this information, we hope that you were able to come up with ideas on how your company or brand could benefit from conversational marketing. Even if you have already implemented conversational marketing, there are many ways to improve the customer experience.

If you are interested in conversational marketing or chatbots, contact an UpOnline representative today and learn how you can give your business the boost that it deserves!