As social media becomes more important for marketers, it is also crucial to justify its return on investment  in the strongest possible way. Social listening can be beneficial both in helping brands explore the different opportunities to improve their online presence, and in proving the worth of social media as a marketing tool.
When done well, it can go beyond simply monitoring for mentions and likes to become a crucial component of a social strategy.
Here are nine reasons for brands to make use of social listening tools.
Understanding the target audience
The first reason to invest time in social listening is to improve the understanding of your target audience. Social listening can help you discover the habits, the interests and the problems of your target audience. This increases the chances of creating more effective content that is relevant to their interests.
Moreover, it can be helpful in finding the channels that your target audience uses most, and reaching them where they prefer to be. This can lead to organically creating a community around your brand, by using social media to form an authentic relationship with customers that involves listening, and not just talking.
Once a brand discovers the channels that its customers prefer to use, it becomes easier to develop a genuine connection. Social listening is helpful when trying to focus on real conversations, as the right tools can help a brand improve its messaging.
Social engagement is not always easy, but the use of the right social listening tools can make the process easier by staying on top of the conversations and even encouraging new ones.
For example, a brand that welcomes both positive and negative feedback helps its target audience express their opinion freely, which means that they have more chances to build trust with this brand. It is up to the brand afterwards to deal with any negative feedback; this can still provide a great opportunity for a genuine conversation that can turn into a very positive sentiment.
Improving customer service
Another good reason to invest in social listening technology is to improve your brand’s customer service . It is very important nowadays to offer an excellent online customer experience  and the right use of social listening tools can significantly contribute to this task.
It is useful to keep track of the mentions, keywords and questions around your brand. The challenge in carrying this out, however, is that not all users mention a brand’s handle when they have a query. This makes it harder to be aware of their questions or possible problems around your products.
Social listening helps you stay on top of the issues and comments around your brand, and contribute to a more positive sentiment around your products. Customers appreciate a positive social interaction with a brand and it can increase the chances of a future purchase if they feel valued.
Exploring content and business opportunities
Social listening can be very useful when seeking inspiration for new topics to cover in your content marketing . Once you set up the channels and the sites you want to monitor, it is easier to discover new ideas for content that could be useful both for your audience, but also your brand’s presence.
For example, you can gear your content towards answering questions asked by your target audience, which can lead to valuable content.
Moreover, social listening can lead to new business opportunities by discovering the most relevant influencers, who may be interested in learning more about your brand.
This can also lead to new opportunities for lead generation by listening to relevant discussions that can benefit your brand and the sentiment around your niche focus.
Lead generation and reaching new customers
The use of social listening tools can also aid lead generation, in that it can become easier to find new customers once you start listening to their social conversations.
A focus on keywords and phrases that are relevant to your brand can reach to a new audience who may be eager to explore your products. This doesn’t mean that social listening will directly generate sales, but it can provide the right exposure for your brand to new prospects.
For example, if your company is offering SEO services and you come across a conversation among marketers asking for SEO advice, you can jump in to offer genuine help. This can be the first stage of a discussion that can become a sales qualified lead, or at the least, a lead that may be interested in hearing about your services.
The benefit of social media being a public forum is that all conversations are visible – so even if the person you approach isn’t in a position to buy, someone else might be.
Another key advantage of social listening technology is to keep track of the conversations around your competitors’ products.
It can be useful to monitor what your competitors and their customers talk about on social media, in order to craft a strategy that can increase your online impact and eventually your sales.
Moreover, it is also useful to monitor your competitors’ negative sentiment, as this can bring their customers closer to your brand – provided that you can offer them something better. If they are not happy with a product they are currently using, it could mean that your brand can offer them an alternative.
On the other hand, if one of your competitors is excelling at social media, it might be a good idea to explore the strategy behind the success and how you could implement some of the same elements.
Using social media strategically
A good way to use social listening tools is to evaluate the effectiveness of your social efforts.
How can you tell if you’re using the right channels? What’s the best way to discover which platforms your target audience prefers?
A focus on social listening can help you use social media more strategically, by learning what your target audience expects from you.
This increases the chances of creating a successful social strategy, catering to your customers’ habits, expectations, or even problems that you want to solve.
Furthermore, social listening can help you improve your wider digital strategy, by applying what you learn to other areas of your marketing strategy.
For example, it can help you build an updated version of your target personas – the ideal people you want to reach, thereby boosting your effectiveness even in offline marketing.
Improving brand’s reputation
Social listening technology can help you keep track of the sentiment around your brand and its services. This can be extremely helpful when trying to understand the areas that make your brand special and build a unique value proposition.
The online reputation of your brand is very important for your social strategy, as it can affect what people think of your services. A positive brand reputation derives from an authentic online presence, good interaction with customers, valuable content and a genuine interest in offering useful information.
Even a brand that suffers from negative reputation can gradually turn the feedback into a positive one  through the consistent use of social listening tools. This may require a significant amount of time and resources invested in social listening, but it can lead to very beneficial results by engaging with customers and showing a willingness to change their opinion about your brand through value and trust.
One use of social listening tools that you might not have thought of is to aid in product development. Whether you want to improve your existing products or come up with ideas for new ones, monitoring the right keywords, phrases and channels can offer good insights into what your target audience finds useful.
Moreover, social listening can help you get feedback on the use of your products, even in areas that you weren’t aware of. For example, you can keep track of what all your customers think of your products, even when they are not mentioning your social presence.
This increases the chances of improving your products with feedback directly from your audience. In addition, this can also increase engagement by including your audience in the product development process. How about asking them questions on what they’d like to improve, or create a poll on the next feature to develop?
This way, they feel included and you also get the best possible feedback on what could make your products even more effective.
Social listening tools can have a significant impact on your social marketing strategy. They can be helpful in many different aspects of your business and your services, improving:
- customer service
- brand reputation
- lead generation
- business opportunities
- online engagement
- social strategy
Most of all, they contribute to an improved understanding of your target audience, from customers to prospects, which can be valuable for your brand’s future success.
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- ^ Social listening (www.clickz.com)
- ^ return on investment (www.clickz.com)
- ^ engagement (www.clickz.com)
- ^ customer service (www.clickz.com)
- ^ excellent online customer experience (www.clickz.com)
- ^ Clutch (clutch.co)
- ^ content marketing (www.clickz.com)
- ^ turn the feedback into a positive one (www.clickz.com)