Getting Out From Under the Cone of Silence: Improving Your Social Listening Skills

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All too often marketers and business owners can hardly hear their coworkers’ input, much less the opinions and observations of the Average Joe.

Do you know what people are saying about your brand?

Influencers, consumers, and competitors are having conversations on a daily basis with the friends and followers who frequent social media and blogs. The irreversible shift has been made from traditional marketing to real time conversation marketing and you’d better be on board.

Are You Even Listening?

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No matter how innovative your newest communication methods might be, if you don’t know what people are saying (as they are saying it), then you are missing the real conversation. Social media isn’t just an option. Pew Research Center reported that 74% of online adults were using social media sites in 2014. Brands have to be actively searching for the conversations that are happening about their services, products, and brand direction.

There are now tools available for helping you catch these conversations. Paid-for listening systems, like Brandwatch or Radian6, help you keep tabs by notifying you of comments, posts, and captions about your blog on a number of platforms. Though often entry-level, there are also free services you can use to monitor social conversations:

  • Hootsuite – covers Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, Google+, and more
  • Social Mention – covers over 100 social media sites
  • IceRocket – Blog, Twitter, and Facebook listening in 20 languages and offers the capability to select specific times of the day to monitor
  • Google Alerts – A simple way to listen in, with a ping every time your brand name is mentioned
  • Social Mention – Scours for information and allows you to check out the most recent conversations or the archived conversations for things you might have missed

Wait, Did You Catch That?

As you set up the specific terms for the listening tool, you must remember it is only combing for those terms. In other words, a slight misspelling or abbreviation by a consumer won’t pop up on the radar of your listening service if you aren’t thinking broadly enough.

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To broaden your results (yes, this means you will have to sift through more), you will need to remember that language can be a tricky thing. Include common misspellings, abbreviations, and variations of your brand name, as well as the names of your top products, major employees, marketing messages, and taglines.

Do You Need to Hire Copywriters?

Now that you know the importance and how you can find the conversations, it’s time to consider what you should do with the information you uncover. See, the conversations will need to be monitored, responded to and utilized by your company to be worth anything at all — without a strategic response, all this work is for nothing.

Be Inspired – Now that you see what your consumers are talking about, what kind of content can you produce to appeal to them? Hire copywriters to help reduce your load and craft professional articles, web page content, white papers, or emails to approach this audience to answer their questions, provide helpful tutorials, and present reviews of other related products in the industry.

Be Heard – This is the opportunity to show your active online presence, allowing your audience to realize you are listening and interested in their opinions. Take the opportunity to be bold, accurate, and professional as you respond to questions, comments, and complaints in a timely manner.

Be Reliable – Remember that today’s customer considers “timely” something more along the lines of immediate (or within the hour).

Alethea M is a corporate blogging guru and freelance writer for WriterAccess. She loves pulling out interesting facts from article research to impress friends at dinner parties.


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