Social Listening Panel Discussion Recap

Nov 9, 2018

Social Listening Panel Discussion Recap

This SMCLT event took place on October 9, 2018 at Birdsong Brewery.

Social media listening goes beyond social media monitoring as it involves tracking online conversations and feedback, as well as messages around specific topics, phrases, brands, and competitors and leveraging those insights to apply to your overall marketing strategy.

To discuss this topic, we were joined by a panel of social media experts:

What is social listening?

With social listening, you analyze the bigger picture behind all the conversations about your brand and integrate your learnings into your social strategy.

Why is it important to listen on social media?

For Sophia, social media listening is of utmost importance because it provides a pulse on how the school system is doing from a safety standpoint. While for Cassie of ACN and Gisela of Columbus McKinnon, social media listening allows them to keep tabs on the performance of businesses affiliated with their companies, including competitors and how they communicate. Morgan of Bottle Cap Group simply put it best when she stated, “If we’re not listening to our customers then we are not doing our job.”

What makes social listening different from social monitoring?

Morgan differentiates social listening from monitoring, as social monitoring is a free activity that can be done on social media scheduling platforms with dashboards, whereas social listening includes taking action a step further when consumers or customers fill out a form or send an email. She gave a great example of a crisis scenario, where a customer emailed an inactive email account and after getting no response proceeded to tweet an account with 10,000+ followers, which ended up making national news and prompted a sit down meeting with city officials and the customer to make sure their statement was heard correctly.

What should you be monitoring for social listening?

  • Your brand name and handles
  • Your product names
  • Your competitors’ brand names, product names, and handles
  • Industry buzzwords
  • Your slogan and those of your competitors
  • Names of key people in your company and your competitors’ companies (your CEO, spokesperson, etc.)
  • Campaign names or keywords
  • Your branded hashtags and those of your competitors
  • Unbranded hashtags related to your industry

Give an example of how social listening benefitted your brand?

Social listening can greatly influence and inform your social strategy and overall marketing plan by introducing new ideas to you that you would not have thought of prior. Cassie used Meltwater, a media monitoring and business intelligence software to conduct social listening in her previous job at a large shoe retailer that through reviews showed her the importance of using influencer groups to help promote brands. Moreover, she suggests that social listening is helpful in looking for opportunities that can provide an impact for sales teams then use what is learned from listening into a broader content strategy that can provide greater return on investment (ROI).

What can you do with social listening?

All of our panelists affirmed that social listening is helpful in monitoring online reputation management (ORM) and gathering customer reviews that can shed light on customer service performance and existing or lack of support of larger business initiatives.

How have you used social listening to generate ideas for new marketing campaigns?

Morgan provided a great example of looking at engagement rates on social posts, such as Instagram, where she noticed a spiked milkshake product,one of the restaurants the company she works for owns had several likes, comments and shares. This prompted the company to create more products that were “instagrammable cocktails”, which led to Rosemont bar creating the adult Capri sun pouch. Social listening creates space for new ideas to be formed, but also opens businesses to space that they or competitors are not participating in - where they should be. Gisela noticed through social listening a lack of content on education and training, as a result she created regular blog series and training webinars that allowed her business to stay current with professional associations, which allowed their brand to stand out and was an area other competitors were not participating.

Why did you make social listening a part of your social strategy? How did you go about doing so?

Initially our panelists, all employed social listening as part of their social strategy to garner company reviews or conduct competitor analysis. However, they all suggested to start small. Cassie said it best, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” She suggested to start listening on social channels for when and where your brand name is mentioned then move to listening to keywords specific to your industry. Sophia also suggests to be both a speaker and a listener. Listen for mentions around brand name, competitor names, industry keywords and hashtags, as well as engage with and actually respond to your audience.

Do you recommend or like specific social listening products? Why?

Sophia recommends using social media scheduling platforms like Sprout Social and if within budget, using media monitoring and business intelligence software, such as Meltwater. She also suggests harnessing Google and starting with a boolean search to track industry specific keywords and phrases then combining Google Marketing Assistance and Search Console to help your social listening efforts. For Morgan in the restaurant industry, review sites, such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are central to her social listening strategy. Gisela made a great point that when choosing a tool it is important to figure out how many people can have access to it and what the software or platform needs to integrate with. While no one tool can do it all, it is important to find a tool that meets the size and current state of your business, while some larger tools can create more “noise” as Gisela refers to it and show mentions that provide no relevance to your brand. Her tool of choice is Mention. All panelists agreed it is smartest to shop around several products and see what works best and do so by asking for a 2-week free trial. Morgan made a great point to then always negotiate price and get the best bang for your buck!

Why should businesses care about social listening?

Social listening is an activity businesses should care about because as Sophia said, “it is a good way to advance your money making potential.” Moreover, Morgan made a great point that social listening is a way to stay current on what is going on in your community and in the world.

A special thanks to our panelists for your invaluable insights and the moderator, Joannah Long, for helping lead the discussion.