Truthfully, social listening can sound like an arduous and intimidating process. One may even imagine an underground operation run by several, young aspiring computer geniuses paid secretly by conglomerates to record and listen to public conversations, analyzing keywords and trying to correlate a pattern into the minds of their customers (although that could just be me).
The reality is, we’ve come a long way from underground operations when it comes to customer data retrieval and analysis. There is no need for closed-door setups, but there is a need to understand the wants, likes, dislikes, and opinions of customers. Put simply and more tastefully, social listening services observe what’s being said on social media, without having to eavesdrop. In this article, we’ll discuss and compare top social media listening tools to help you reveal and act on the uncovered consumer insights.
Imagine that you can read people’s minds and eavesdrop on their most intimate conversations. Well, I have great news for you because with social media listening, reading your customers’ minds and opinions is a reality.
Social listening relates to gathering and analyzing online conversations not only about your brand but the niche in general. It tracks the whole industry, including your competitors and potential customers. The opportunities of social media listening are far more reaching than it might seem beforehand.
One can observe mentions of competitors, how a certain product is being used, trending hashtags, or scour the web for the hottest summer trends as modeled by top influencers. Once the insights are revealed, businesses can apply them to make successful marketing decisions.
Social listening also extends past social media platforms and goes far beyond monitoring forums, blogs or even websites. Once the data is collected, social listening helps you to understand why, where and how these online conversations are happening, answering the most desired questions what do people think and feel at the moment of using a product—not just when they’re tagging or mentioning the brand.
Whatever one can be after, social listening is a widespread, flexible process that provides brands with an opportunity to uncover their full potential.
How can you get access to this miraculous technology?
You don’t need to turn to social listening agencies, social listening companies or google for listening centers to provide you with this unique possibility. Instead, try top social listening tools that monitor important keywords and topics such as brand name, all possible hashtags related to the niche and the product, competitors’ names, industry top words, and campaign names.
How is social listening different from social monitoring?
The truth is that it’s no longer enough to track and respond only to tagged brand mentions. To be as concise as possible, social media monitoring answers the question what while the social media listening software explains to you why. Social monitoring simply tracks and collects text mentions letting the brand do all the analytics, react, and respond.
Social listening covers a wider picture. It is the complex AI-powered process of gathering and analyzing data from the billions of daily conversations between social media users happening across a number of online sources.
Once the data is processed, brands can get numerous consumer insights in real-time which transcend simple demographics data such as age and gender, shedding light on consumer’s interests, beliefs, and genuine attitudes towards certain products.
Consumer insights are not simple statistics, it’s an understanding of the people’s behavior, psychology, and how the target audience really feels about the product. Once a brand has this understanding, it can conquer the minds of millions of customers.
Social media data is rich in people’s honest opinions. Thus it provides the most accurate representation of the consumer’s voice, helping businesses find new comprehensive solutions to arising problems in real-time.
Social media is an incredible treasure trove of consumer insights, accounting 3.5 billion users worldwide, who are eager to share their pain points, appreciation, and most intimate desires.
Approximately 6,000 tweets are tweeted every second on Twitter which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and about 200 billion tweets per year. That’s a lot of information and on just one social media platform.
Therefore, it is safe to say that long gone are the days of Myspace pages where a single person might juggle one or two public accounts used predominantly for chatting with friends. Today, millions of interactions are happening daily; each interaction containing potential valuable insights to a customer thought or opinion of a product.
Any business worth a penny has an online presence for marketing and sales purposes of course, but also for customer interaction. This is a way in which businesses can be there to answer customers’ inquiries and stay connected (definitely beats hanging on the line for extended periods of time). But it is also a way in which companies can observe customer experiences as they are publicly shared on these platforms.
At the very least, each business has a presence on a handful of social networks. It is safe to say, customers have even more and without a little help, it is truly an uphill battle to track what is being said about a business on all of the social media platforms.
One of the most valuable benefits stemming from social listening is the access to invaluable insights pertaining to not just customers, but also the competitors and the market as a whole. Top digital media tools help companies to get answers to questions about certain campaigns, measure sponsorship ROI, track trends or new product launches without having to disturb the audience with the actual questions, for example, in the form of a survey (which let’s be honest, how many people actually participate in those?)
But there are several major social media platforms that include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest and Youtube. On Facebook alone, there are 2.4 billion users. Youtube and Whatsapp each have over a billion users respectively. In a world with a population of 7.7 billion, with over half online, that makes for quite an outstanding online presence.
Even though there is still the majority of companies that are using social media listening to promote their brand, sell and engage with fans, which id still better than nothing, but only few brands are using social media capabilities to create a deeper understanding of their customers and of the target market. And this is what shouldn’t be missed.
Let’s quickly discuss the top benefits of using social media listening tools.
One of the most common benefits brands get from social listening services is not only finding out what is being said about the company and product across several platforms simultaneously, but what they really value is that they have access to these conversations in REAL TIME and not after all is said, shared, and spread across the social media space
@Danone we just opened a yoghurt and found that it was moldy. I know it’s not a priority right now but maybe you’ll want to review the quality checks of your products: pic.twitter.com/HNYIZlVeQQ
— Pau Fdz (@Panina_Fdz) March 30, 2020
In this case, a woman is complaining about the quality of the yogurt of brand Danone and the situation should be resolved before it gets shared.
Social media listening software provides the business with an opportunity to ameliorate a potentially dangerous situation almost immediately, rather than letting a sore fester. Consequently, social media listening services help to track brand health and enhance the brand image by efficiently monitoring the mentions and types of sentiment in real-time. Thanks to the collected data, they can react promptly to prevent a hindrance to their reputation.
Catch and solve consumer pain points
People love complaining about what’s not working properly. They actively discuss every possible glitch or bug. Monitoring conversations around your niche uncovers numerous insights about why customers are frustrated or, on the contrary, praise your product; you’ll see what’s working and what’s falling short of customer’s expectations.
In this case, we can observe a positive attitude of customers towards soy-based burgers, introduced by the brand Beyond Meat.
I'm a skeptic about meat "substitutes" but I just had this Beyond Meat burger (with sliced tomato and jalapeno on rustic Italian toast). I remain *shocked* how delicious this burger was! I have no financial interest in Beyond Meat.@BeyondMeat pic.twitter.com/OOnrZvMJgw
— Stephen Eric Berry (@reverse_chess) March 30, 2020
However, once Burger King launched its sensational plant-based Whopper, people expressed indignation. Why? Listen to customers.
Just heard on the radio... Burger King is launching a vegan burger today.
But vegans can’t eat it as it’s cooked on the same grill as all the other burgers. 🙈
— Donna Wishart - What the Redhead said (@genuineplacebo) January 6, 2020
All this buzz is because Burger King launched its first plant-based burger, not suitable for vegans and vegetarians because it’s cooked on the same grill as meat burgers.
If you aggregate all the complaints about the product, you can help customers resolve their pain points by adding new features or improving the old ones. Moreover, the gathered insights can spur a new product idea.
Explore influencers and brand advocates
You’re probably aware that partnerships with influencers help you reach and communicate with your target audiences. However, you might also know that it’s a daunting and tricky task to find and even worse assess those advocates.
Identifying them manually by searching through the deep waters of the social media landscape would steal many precious work hours which could be spent with more value. On top of that, you must be confident that the chosen influencers will really communicate with target groups and work hard on enhancing your online reputation.
Social listening services relieve the pain of finding the right influencer. They provide you with the key statistics (engagement, likes, posts, and reach) that would help you to find out who's sharing the information about your products, and organically spreading it online. A satisfied customer with a high engagement rate that talks about you without being paid, is your marketing gold mine.
Track your competitors
Do you think you should track only your brand success among customers? Absolutely no. It’s essential to check out how your competitors are doing and what customers love or hate about them.
Nespresso, Tassimo or Keurig? Which coffee machine do customers prefer and why? Listen to your competitors and find out how they communicate with customers.
my #keurig just died, and a bit of my soul! Do I buy another or try #tassimo or #nespresso? What's your fav? #coffee #coffeaddict #YEG ☕️
— Alessandra Iozzo (@AliSellsYEG) June 12, 2017
Only the best social media listening apps and tools can help you to efficiently monitor competitor’s keywords, brand names and variations, product name, product features/functions, and campaign names.
Eavesdrop on the competitors’ benefits and improve your own product. Find out their weaknesses and highlight your advantages. These insights are crucial in boosting the image of your own brand. Social listening allows you to benchmark your own brand campaign efficiency against your competitors. Track their campaigns the same as you track your own, discover what’s working for them, and replay their success in your own brand strategy.
Reveal trends and forecast opportunities
Social listening tools let you uncover the trending topics once they break out and see where the roots of discussion are coming from. In addition, thanks to the volume and quality of social media captured consumer insights, marketing teams can forecast the trends. You will always be ahead of your competitors by responding to the hype and launching situational marketing campaigns faster.
Get inspired for new product launch
It can be challenging to come up with new product ideas and you might delegate this responsible task to the Research and Development department. However, what about asking your consumers? It’s not necessary to directly ask every person who buys your coffee or sneakers but you can do it via social media listening.
Danone did its best listening to customer voices online and it inspired them to launch Activia lactose-free product line.
“Social listening puts consumers in the center of our decisions,” says Isabel María Gonzalez, CRM and digital manager, marketing, at Danone.
@Activia thank you SO MUCH for coming out with a #lactosefree line! I am so happy!
— AngeLove (@VillainSkersto) July 17, 2017
Companies create new products to sell. Thus, in order to know what to sell, it’s important to consider consumers’ needs and behaviors. Monitoring customers on social media, analyzing their real-time feedback can spur new product ideas. Picking the smart idea of your customers not only shows that you take care of them but also helps you dive deep into your consumers’ pains and concerns.
Ok, enough theory, let's apply the technology in practice.
Identify your target audience
Once you’ve chosen a social listening service, thoroughly analyzing the reviews on G2Crowd or Capterra, it’s time to start working with it. The first step to take is to define who your target audience is. You need to find out the age, gender, regions, and sources where your audience talk about you.
It’s easy to see all the analytics on the dashboard. As an example, we chose brand Adidas to show you how social listening works in practice.
Your key audience is young people aged 18-24 with men talking more about the product. To get more details about the age, language, and location of the male audience, apply filters.
Also, you need to define the region where the customers are mostly speaking about your brand. The system revealed the USA, UK, and Russia and the leading regions where the brand is mentioned.
What about social media sources? You should know which channel to listen to more attentively when looking for consumer insights. In the case of Adidas, Twitter and Instagram head up the panel.
Now we should go further and explore what social users love about your brand or, on the contrary, hate. Also, you need to analyze whether the users share common perceptions and expectations of your brand.
Explore the audience sentiment
Check the overall sentiments distribution graph. For brand Adidas the graph looks like this with only 2.3% of negative sentiment:
You can easily find out the truth about which characteristics customers don’t like or complain about, simply filter your results by negative sentiment. However, not all social listening tools have sentiment distribution by aspects, so don’t tighten your belt when it comes to your customer loyalty.
In the graph below, the social listening tool revealed 5 aspects users mostly talk in regards to the brand Adidas with the highest negativity in service, price, and quality. You can then go deeper and analyze what spurred the dissatisfaction. This would provide you with customer insights about what should be improved or changed.
You can apply the same steps to different groups of your target audience, filter out positive or negative comments, or analyze the statistics in specific countries. Search for any data that sheds light into customer behavior.
Time to explore the major topics
Find out the context of conversations. For SpaceX it wouldn't be an insight to see that people talk about it in relation to the tech, economics, computer games but the food is something that doesn't fit into the space topic…
It’s really insightful that more than 1000 mentions in a period of 1 month are dedicated to discussing what SpaceX astronauts eat and how they stay fit and lean.
Detect and analyze trends
SpaceX has quite a number of trends. The system allows you to see what is the source that sparked a discussion, the engagement rate, the category, and number of authors. You should click on a trend to track the discussion, what was talked about and look for ideas for inspiration.
Find advocates and influencers
The system alloes you to find authors with the highest engagement rate who organically talk about brand without being paid. Reach out to them and try to build a partnership.
Track your competitors
Basically, you need to follow the same steps as with your own brand to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.
Keep in mind that social listening is not social monitoring. It gives you more information and requires prompt action from your side. Thus, reading a few comments every day is not enough to get insights. It requires your analytical skills and steps to react.
There is a universal truth that you have to accept: brands cannot disregard and ignore social media landscape because their customers actively use social media.
More than 3.5 billion users are reading, posting, sharing, and watching social media daily. Let’s be reasonable and accept the fact that if you’re avoiding online consumers, you’re missing out on a great value of insights.
Social listening lets you know what’s said about your brand in real-time by tracking various social media sources. You get access to the most relevant data with already analyzed data.
On top of that, you can find out who your competitors are. Why are they stronger or weaker? What are their top features and how can you use this efficient startegy? Social listening tools help to evaluate the sentiment of customer messages and find out what exactly frustrates or inspires them. Plus, you can find the organic influencers of your brand.
We showed you only a sneak peek into what you can do with the social listening services but the key here is to choose the best tool which offers all the analytical features with an AI-powered visual context analysis. Only then you can reveal the real consumer insights and create a strategy for their implementation.
And if you’re still looking for the best social media listening software, try YouScan now and begin discovering the insights.