Today’s post is a reflection upon Tori McClellan’s expert session (Social Listening – Tori McClellan) from Michelle Charello’s “Essentials of Social Media Marketing,” and why (as a social media manager) I believe that it’s important for your organization to include social listening in your social media strategy. As the only social media “guru” at the firm I currently work for, content strategy, planning and creation takes up a huge chunk of my time. Somedays, I find it difficult to be creative and produce new, yet engaging content, but the biggest take away I’ve learned from Tori’s expert session is that there are other ways, such as “online conversations,” that may be able to aid in generating new conversations and content for my client’s brands with similar ones that are already out there, or trending. This is called “social listening” — the process of monitoring digital media channels to devise a strategy that will better influence consumers. (McClellan)
When I was first introduced to social listening, it was hard for me to wrap my head around how I could benefit from this tool for my own time’s sake, as well as how my multiple clients’ brands could also benefit from being “in” on relevant conversations. However, social media software tools, such as Sprout Social, make it easy for marketers like me to tune into those conversations for content engagement and inspiration.
“Social listening helps you build a brand that’s social and incredibly active,” McClellan said.“Essentials of Social Media Marketing” (Charello)
I 100% agree with this statement. It’s so important for brands to interact with their consumers today, especially online. Building consistent customer experiences and brand interactions online takes time, but it’s essential for your brand to stay relevant, consistent and “listen” if you want to continue to reach and resonate with your audiences and their needs.
One way to do just that, is to create engaging content that encourages brand and consumer interaction. With social listening, one can explore the conversations that are already out there, to then digest to fit the brand and then create content that could either pose questions or polls to influence more of those conversations, but in a different or elevated way. This is just one example that can help your brand stay socially active by paying attention to the trends and different kinds of content that works well with your audiences.
So, you’re probably wondering, well, what’s so important about what people say online? Here are three reasons as to why it’s important to listen to your audiences and adapt your content to their needs:
- First, what I love most about social listening is that you can understand what your brand’s competitors are saying and how their audiences are reacting to certain kinds of conversations and content they produce. Then, you can create similar conversations with your own content, therefore, providing your brand’s audiences with the topics they find interest engaging in.
- Secondly, according to McClellan, “[Social listening] allows you to enter a popular conversation instead of creating one.” The work is already there, just make sure you “avoid negative conversations,” Tori said.
- And lastly, social listening helps you stay active and alert to the trends out there. And, if they’re relevant to your brand, well, you’re in luck — you better hop on that trend train!
Speaking of brands staying relevant to trends, let’s talk a little more about how social listening keeps your brand relevant to trending topics. For example, John Hopkins University and the Los Angeles Chargers recently joined in on NASA’s recent image launch of cosmic cliffs and star birth conversation online producing posts and memes around the topic. These two brands were able to quickly pivot and join in on the “buzz.” Social listening allowed John Hopkins University to provide their insights and share their excitement as the topic was relevant to their industry and brand to further discuss this exciting news with their own audiences. On the flip side, the Los Angeles Chargers took more of a humorous approach, but still tied their content back to their industry. (See image below)
So, I ask the question: Why aren’t you listening?
If the social listening tools aren’t in your social media budget, no problem! There are several ways to start listening even without a listening tool. To start, look for industry relevant hashtags and phrases. (Charello) Eventually, if you’re finding this strategy is working well for you and your brand, maybe this tool is worth the investment.
Overall, regardless of your budget or time allotted to social media, it’s essential for your brand to keep up with your audiences and competitors chatter online to help you stand out. It shows that your brand can be active, adaptive and social with consumers, which is extremely important when building trust and relationships online. Who knew our technology today could help our brands stand out above the noise from the noise online?!