If we could chalk social media advocacy up to one simple sentence, it would probably be: getting people talking about a brand or organization. A lot of the focus when it comes to developing a social media advocacy strategy centers around how to do this. But an important question to consider is this: “If people are talking, what are they saying?”
Ideally, brand advocates have nothing but positive sentiments about the brand or organization to share on social media with their peers. This is the backbone of social media advocacy- loyal customers and fans who are driven by their own passion for the brand or organization to talk positively about it amongst their friends. But we cannot simply assume that all conversation happening surrounding the brand online is positive. And even if it is all positive, we cannot simply accept that at face value.
This is where a new term comes in: social listening. What is social listening? Social listening (sometimes called media monitoring) is tracking conversations around the brand that are happening on social media. This goes beyond simply monitoring instances where the brand is tagged- it requires a deeper dive beyond notifications into conversations where the brand isn’t being tagged.
Although this is sometimes called media monitoring, that term falls a bit short, because monitoring is only half of the work. When you are monitoring, you are keeping track of various engagements on social media- imagine it as taking brand mentions and filing them away for future reference. This monitoring really does not serve much use if nothing is done with the information found. Thus, social listening is a more adequate term, as it includes the act of taking information gleaned from monitoring and analyzing it to find insights to reflect upon.
If you’re not convinced yet of the value of social listening, check out these three benefits:
- Engage better with customers. Customers that use social media to talk about brands like to feel like those brands are listening- through thick and thin. This means engaging with customers when they are praising the brand, as well as taking the time to hear them out when they have criticisms- a survey by Pegasystems found that companies failing to listen to their needs ranked among their top 3 customer service complaints. Social listening allows brands to be aware of what customers are saying, and then actively engage with these customers to express appreciation or help remedy problems.
- Identify industry pain points and get a head-start in addressing them: Social listening goes beyond just tracking conversations around the specific brand- it also includes monitoring industry-related keywords to see what customers are saying about competitors and the industry as a whole. With careful social listening, companies can uncover conversations about their desires and needs that aren’t being met, and they can deliver this information to the product development team and be one of the first players to make a move to fulfill those needs.
- Identify brand advocates: This may seem obvious, but it is nonetheless important. The best way of finding brand advocates is on the social media platforms themselves. Through social listening, brands can get a clear picture of who is already talking about the brand on social media, and engage with those people to encourage them to become brand advocates.
The above are just a few of the many benefits that organizations can get from social listening- going beyond simply monitoring engagements and actually analyzing them to form insights. Stay tuned for future blog posts about best practices for social listening.