Social media use worldwide is increasing. In 2016 alone, nearly 70% of internet users also used social media.
Businesses can use this trend to their advantage to find new leads by engaging in social listening, or the process of monitoring terms, products, and concepts associated with your brand across online platforms, like social media, Q&A forums, and blogs.
Social listening makes meeting consumer demands for instantaneous responses easier, which in turn can attract new customers and build a more loyal following.
As Global Communication Manager at Brand24, a social listening company, I see a lot of opportunities to use social listening to find leads. This article walks you through five steps to get started using social listening to find leads.
1. Set Up A Social Listening Project
Find the social listening tool that’s best for your company and determine what you want to monitor.
First, select the keywords that you want to monitor.
Make sure you consider keywords that you want to exclude so that your results are as accurate as possible. This is especially helpful when your brand name contains a popular noun (e.g., Mention), adjective (e.g., Nimble), or the name of a city. You will save yourself a lot of time sorting through unnecessary mentions.
Second, opt into daily reports to stay informed of all new mentions, their sources, authors, and reach in social media.
Third, track the most important trends for your business.
Brand24’s social listening tool has a dashboard that lets users see mentions from popular authors.
This information makes it easy for businesses to identify thought leaders and influencers in a particular industry.
2. Learn About Your Target Audience
Learning about the personas that make up your target audience will help you communicate with them online.
Use your social listening tool to search social profiles for common characteristics, like brands they use, personal information they, share, contacts they have, or content they post.
You may find information that’s strictly professional, personal, or a mix of both. These characteristics will help you determine how to reach and communicate with them.
3. Listen In on Sites Where Customers “Hang Out”
Monitor sites where your customers communicate.
Data from Clutch’s 2017 Social Listening Survey shows that most businesses monitor social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.
However, social listening is not limited to these social platforms; businesses also monitor their customers on Reddit, Medium, and news sites.
“We focus on social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and sites like Quora, Reddit, and Product Hunt,” said Mick Griffin, Chief Revenue Officer at Brand24. “This wasn’t necessarily because we love those sites, it is more because we identified those sites as where our consumers like to hang out.”
Social media platforms serve as tools for greater engagement with potential customers, which in turn helps brands draw attention to their product and generate leads.
“A tip to find out which channels and what types of content are perfect for your audience is to Google the problem you solve and check out what is on page 1 and 2 of Google,” advises Griffin. “Is it long form blog posts, or forums, etc.? It’s a great hack to know where to start.”
Contact through social listening is crucial when customers are paying attention to your product. It allows you to build loyalty and confidence in your brand while your products are on their mind.
4. Build Long-Term Relationships With Customers
Building trust and familiarity between your brand and your target audience is necessary to reach new people and build your audience base.
Joining groups or channels that your target group is part of creates a positive impression and may lead to a relationship.
Consider this data from Brand24:
In one month, there are approximately 14,000 online searches that start with “can anyone recommend?” and about 30,000 searches for “where can I buy?”
About 60% of these questions never receive responses from companies. But, the other 40% of searches, where questions have been answered, build audience engagement.
You get to know and interact with your target audience by reading their online comments and seeing what they share. In turn, you build trust in your brand by answering questions, providing guidance, and sharing useful content.
For example, Brand24 responded to a potential customers call for a social listening tool.
The conversation above resulted in a new customer for Brand24 because the company addressed its competitor’s weakness: slow response time.
These more personal interactions will help build familiarity and facilitate further contact down the road.
5. React to Comments & Questions
Knowing what your audience says and does online is not enough; you must react.
Research published in The Social Habit, a book by Jay Baer, CEO of digital marketing consulting firm Convince & Convert says that among respondents who attempted to contact a company:
- About 32% expect a response within 30 minutes
- Nearly 50% expect a response within 60 minutes
- Nearly 25% expect a reply within 30 minutes, regardless of when they posted a comment or asked a question
Consumers write about a brand or product online for a purpose.
If they want to praise you, thank them.
If they have a question, answer it and guide them.
If they have a complaint, respond graciously and try to lessen the damage. Offer an explanation and nip a crisis in the bud.
Here is a rather absurd example of a situation that could have benefited from social listening.
Someone managed to get trapped inside an Amtrak elevator and finally got a response after ... 6 months. This shows that response time is just as important as content. They are inextricably linked.
Social Listening Has Ongoing Potential for Marketing & Sales Teams
Although social listening hasn’t been around for long, it has all ready shown enormous potential.
Online users will stick around - looking for products and services, sharing opinions about them, and even reaching out to brands themselves.
If you want to keep your finger on your audience’s pulse while building your brand reputation and, above all, expanding your loyal customer base, start using social listening today. It’s a marketing must-have.
About the Author
Magda Urbaniak is Global Communications Manager at Brand24, as well as an influencer and public relations specialist. She hosts BrandTalks podcast and is a Quora Top Writer 2017. You can find her articles on Huffington Post, Forbes, and Entrepreneur. She also organizes Social Media Thursdays, an event for entrepreneurs marketers and PR experts.