What to Think About When Selecting a Social Media Listening Tool

Alex DiRenzo Alex DiRenzo, Former Contributor

Just about every business today uses social media for one or more purposes. You may use it for customer support, to stay connected with your customers, to build your brand or to acquire new leads and customers.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your results in these areas is to use social media listening. This is a way to stay current with the latest trends on leading social media sites. In order to effectively do this, you need the right tools. Let’s look at the most important elements to consider when choosing a social media listening tool.

What is Social Media Listening?

Social listening means paying close attention to what people on social media are saying about your company, your industry, your competition and anything that’s relevant to you. There’s a vast amount of information being shared on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter every minute. The challenge for businesses is to sort through this information and make sense of it.

The type of social listening that’s beneficial for you will depend on factors such as the size of your business, the type of customer you have and which social sites are most relevant to you. Social listening actually can help you clarify these very points. For example, it can be used to better understand the demographics of your customer base. The right tool can help you gain the most insights about your social media audience.

Essential Features of a Good Social Media Listening Tool

  • Lets you find out what people are saying about you. It’s extremely important for businesses to monitor reviews, comments and complaints that are posted on social media sites. This helps you understand what people like and don’t like about your company. It also gives you a chance to respond to questions and concerns.
  • Identifies the social media habits of your audience. The better you know your audience, the better you can educate them and promote to them. The first step is to find out which social media sites they use and which features on these sites.
  • Helps you grow your business. Social media listening helps you grow your business by attracting new leads and customers. When you decide what to post on your Facebook page or Twitter feed and how to create social media ads, there are many things you need to know. You want to know what kind of keywords your potential customers are using to search for information. You want to know what kind of products they’re buying in your niche and how much they’re spending. Knowing such facts helps you build your business faster.
  • Helps you track the competition. You can be sure your competitors are also using social media to promote themselves. An effective social media tool will help you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors. Having an in-depth understanding of what your competitors are doing helps you make better decisions about your own business.
  • Identify important trends in your industry. As important as it is to be aware of what people are saying about your brand and your competition, effective listening on social media goes far beyond this. You want to be able to identify important trends in your industry and what people are saying about relevant topics. For example, if your business is involved in the fitness industry, you want to know what people are saying about diet, exercise, fitness clubs, sportswear and other such topics. If you’re involved in food, it’s helpful to know what kind of foods are trending right now.
  • Has broad reach. A good listening tool gives you access to an enormous amount of data. Social media today is used by billions of people around the world. Conversations are conducted in hundreds of languages on millions of topics. If you want a truly effective tool, you should seek one that has the power to tap into all of these conversations and bring you the particular data that’s relevant to you.
  • Helps you identify key influencers. One of the best ways to promote any business is to partner with people who have large social media followings. There may be influencers out there who already love your brand. Others might be open to helping you if you opened a dialogue with them. A great social media listening tool is one that helps you find key influencers in your industry. This can be done by using keywords, going over the bios and profiles of influencers and by following their social media conversations.
  • Provides reports. Social media tools are only useful when you know how to use them. Many businesses don’t have the time or expertise to spend long hours mastering the skills needed for researching social media. That’s why it’s useful to find options where reports are delivered to you. This way you can get the information you need with a minimum of effort.

The above are some guidelines to keep in mind when comparing tools for social media listening. Of course, every business is different and you have to consider your own needs and budget. When it comes to calculating your costs, however, you should think about the long-term upside of having detailed social media information at your disposal. You often have to spend money up front to enjoy greater returns in the future.

Social media provides businesses with a tremendous opportunity to connect with a wider audience, serve their customers better and keep track of the competition. Social media sites supply information that’s potentially very valuable to your business.

At the same time, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content that’s out there. Learning how to gather and understand the billions of conversations that are floating around social media can be a full time job. The right tool can save you lots of time and help you make sense of all this information.