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3 Tips to Strengthen Your Social Listening Skills

Listening is important. Think of what would happen to your relationships if you spent all the time talking. It wouldn’t last long, right?

The same principle applies to customers. If you don’t listen to them, they’ll walk away without ever looking back. But if you do listen, the relationship grows stronger. You know what they like and can deliver on that knowledge.

What can you do to strengthen your social listening skills and improve the brand experience? Check out these three tips. They’re simple but powerful.

Find out why social media listening is so essential to your brand. Register for the “Practice Listening: From Competitors to Customers” webinar today!



In the observation stage, gather as much data as possible. It’s hugely helpful to use social listening software at this step; there’s simply no way to manually gather data from so many diverse sources today. The tools are there to help you—use them.

Don’t minimize the importance of observation. It’s critical to success. Plus, the more time you spend observing, the easier the next two steps will be.


Interpretation is where you make sense of the data. Some analysts might call it the “hypothesis” stage. Here, you look for commonalities among the data and start to make connections. What topics appear frequently? Who’s the most influential? What roles do time and day play?

Also look for connecting words like “because” and “so that.” Statements with those words show cause and effect. With them, you can quickly pinpoint what the problems are—say, a shipping tracker that never, ever seems to work—and identify solutions (Fix the shipping tracker!).



This is where interpretation gets real. But many times, people skip the first two steps and jump ahead to application, i.e., action. The temptation is understandable; however, it’s to be avoided. Application without observation and interpretation never works out well because it’s based entirely on guesswork, gut instincts and “feelings.”

Other times, people stop at interpretation. Interpreting data is important, but it doesn’t do anything. It’s all pie in the sky until it’s applied to real-world situations.

Applications are actionable conclusions. Fixing the shipping tracker is an example of one. It’s a conclusion that can be acted upon. Taking action is important; without follow-through, brand recognition and loyalty won’t grow. You’re all bluff and bluster.

Applications should be divided into general and specific categories. A general application applies to the brand overall. It’s a “we” statement.

A specific application requires you to take action, and usually ties into the general one. For example, a general application could relate to improving employee advocacy. As the internal community manager, your action item could be to share more social media best practices and information about the company. The more informed your team is, the more likely they are to engage internally and externally.

Having general and specific applications and sharing them across the organization is helpful because the general involves the entire team and keeps them aimed toward shared goals. The specific application gives you a direct responsibility to the team, as well as accountability.

So there you have it. Three steps to improving your social listening skills, which will, in turn, improve brand reputation and loyalty—internally and externally.


Images: Creative Sustainability, Creative Sustainability (2), LMAP (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Erin Feldman

Erin Feldman is the director of editorial services at Tenacity5 Media. When she isn’t researching, writing, and editing blog posts and white papers, she writes poetry and essays, draws her favorite Write Right character, and plans what art form to study next. She’s based in Austin, Texas and can be found on Twitter @erinmfeldman.

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