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Kickstart Social Listening With Answers to 4 Key Questions

With the potential to generate leads, convert critics to customers and spark innovation, social listening is a powerful tool for brands. Yet only 37 percent are practicing it. The benefits cannot be ignored, so how can you get started?

In Cision’s recent “Practice Listening: From Competitors to Customers” webinar, five social media powerhouses – Jay Baer, Jeff Bullas, Neal Schaffer, Mark Schaefer and Scott Stratten – shared their unique perspectives on why listening is so important for your brand.

During the webinar, the speakers discussed the different audiences you should pay attention to, strategies for listening to those audiences and the results your brand will realize when you practice social listening.

But what does it mean to practice social listening? Here are four questions about social listening – and the answers that will help you take your first steps:

To Whom Should I Listen?Listen-Ears

Jeff Bullas says you need to find out what your competitors are doing – and then do it better. Keep an eye on the innovators in your industry. Don’t copy their ideas outright though; instead model them.

Social Influencers can help you get closer to your audience. Mark Schaefer identifies the three types of influencers as celebrity, influencer and advocate. Establish your brand’s goals and listen to see which type of influencer can help you accomplish them.

If you want leads to turn into sales, you need to pay attention to social conversations. Neal Schaffer says listen to “social signals” to identify prospects.

Jay Baer emphasizes the importance of listening when your customers complain. “Haters” provide an opportunity to improve your business and turn a negative into a positive.

Employees are always a reflection of your brand, and empowering them to use social media to represent your brand in a positive way can result in a wealth of benefits, says Scott Stratten.

Where Should I Listen?

Once you identify your audiences, you need to go out and find them. With more and more content being created and pushed out every day, there is a ton of noise saturating the Internet. Sorting through it all to find your audiences and what they’re saying about your brand can be a challenge.

Jeff Bullas says, “Your competition is global.” No longer are you competing with the local store down the block. Today, you’re competing with competitors from around the world. That means you need to be listening to the entire world as well.

So with so much noise and such a massive scale, where will you find your audience? Keep tabs on a variety of channels. Think about what social media sites your audience is using. Neal Schaffer recommends eavesdropping on social conversations. Listen to your audience by keeping track of the mentions of your company, products and services, as well as your competitors.

Want more insight from Jay, Jeff, Mark, Neal and Scott? Watch the on-demand webinar here!

How Should I Listen?

Tracking any mention of your brand is a good place to start, but you should go a few steps further. According to Neal Schaffer, “Only 9.16% of tweets mentioning companies start with the @.” That means that you need to be looking at more than just your mentions.

Create a list of keywords to keep an eye on. Here are a few suggestions from Neal:

  • Your company name
  • Your product/service
  • Your competitor’s company name
  • Descriptive keywords of your product/service

In addition, include any misspellings of your keywords. Social listening tools, such as Cision’s, make it easy to keep track of your keywords, find out who’s talking about your brand and where.

What Should I Do After I Listen?

Listening is only the beginning – it’s what you do with your findings that’s truly important. Jay Baer says ignoring customers on social is the complete opposite of what you should do, especially for critics. You should always address customers’ concerns and try to make the situation better.

For your employees, empower them to be a positive representation of your brand. Scott Stratten recommends calling attention to their good deeds. If they’re doing something good for your customers, such as going out of their way to help with a project, make sure you highlight that action on social.

Try and respond to as many mentions of your company as possible. A simple “thank you” or a quick answer to a question are easy ways to boost your brand’s reputation exponentially.

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Images: Yutaka SekiKy (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Maria Materise

Maria Materise is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Formerly a copywriter, she enjoys creating content that excites and inspires audiences. She is an avid reader, movie trivia geek, Harry Potter fanatic and makeup junkie..

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