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!