5 Creative Ways to Use Social Listening Tools

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

Every business needs to leverage social media if it wants to stay competitive and engage effectively with its customers. Social listening tools can give you an extra edge in understanding your audience. They also help you track the competition and keep up with the latest trends in your industry. The following are five effective methods to incorporate social listening into your social media management strategy.

1. Find Customers With a Problem You Can Solve

Many of your potential customers haven’t yet heard of you or they don’t realize you have a solution for one of their problems. Social listening is one of the best ways to identify such prospects so you can show them what you have to offer. When someone has a problem, they often begin their search for a solution by asking questions. They may do a simple Google search. They may ask a question on a site such as Quora. Or they may go to a discussion forum or Facebook group that deals with this type of issue.

Social listening tools can help you quickly identify relevant queries. It doesn’t matter if your business makes nutritious pet food, designs SEO software, sells real estate, or makes custom jewelry. When you find people who are seeking exactly the type of product or service you supply, you have a strong prospect. Social listening lets you find your customers as soon as they express a need. While ads are often seen as intrusive, when you contact people who are urgently seeking a solution, they’ll be glad to hear from you.

2. Ethically Poach Customers Away From the Competition

People do plenty of complaining on social media. Many of these complaints are directed against businesses. Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and other reviews sites are full of negative comments about poor service, defective products, misleading advertising and other issues. Monitoring these conversations can help you “steal” or poach dissatisfied customers to your business. While this may seem like a sneaky tactic, it’s perfectly ethical. You aren’t badmouthing the competition. Their customers have already done so. You are simply offering them an alternative. Social listening software lets you monitor the competition as well as conversations about your type of business.

When you apply this strategy, you have to be sure you can actually supply a better alternative. Keep in mind, you’re dealing with customers who have already expressed a willingness to post complaints or bad reviews. However, if you’re confident that you can offer a superior product, better customer service, a lower price or another desirable alternative to the competition you have every reason to reach out. Social listening can help you find disgruntled customers and make them happy.

3. Show Gratitude For Praise

Social listening is a powerful tool for reputation management. You always want to be aware of what customers are saying about you whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook or a review site. One mistake made by many brands, however, is to use reputation management mainly as damage control. While you do need to respond to criticism and negative reviews, it’s equally important to reward people who say nice things about you. When monitoring conversations, don’t filter out the positive comments and reviews. It can be very powerful to comment on complimentary posts. Even a simple “Thank you!” or “Glad you enjoyed your meal!” makes the customer feel rewarded. Everyone likes to be acknowledged.

Even neutral mentions are worth commenting on. For example, someone might casually post “Had lunch with Bob and Mary at Mario’s Pizza today.” This isn’t a review and doesn’t say anything positive or negative about the business. However, if you’re the owner you could take the trouble to comment “Glad you stopped by and hope you had a great meal!” This type of outreach helps you bond with customers and makes it more likely they’ll think of you next time they’re in the neighborhood or seeking the type of product you sell.

4. Find Influencers and Brand Ambassadors

Social listening helps you identify influencers in your industry who can help your brand grow. Search for discussions centered around popular keywords in your industry. Find out who people are following in these fields. You can then start subscribing to their newsletters, following them on social media and reaching out to them in other ways. It’s not always easy to connect with influencers who are world famous. You can start with micro influencers who may not have millions of followers but who have a smaller but loyal audience.

Another benefit of social listening is to find your own most enthusiastic customers. These can become your brand ambassadors. Offer them encouragement by reaching out to them and offering them rewards for spreading the word about your business. While social listening helps you find influencers and brand ambassadors, it’s still up to you to build relationships with them. Remember that the more value you offer people, the more willing they’ll be to do something for you in return.

5. Discover Ways to Improve Your Business

If you’re looking to grow your business, social listening can help you do this. When scaling up, you need to keep your customers’ needs first and foremost in your mind. You can and should question and survey your current customers about their needs and preferences. Social listening, however, lets you go broader and look at your target industry across social media and the internet.

Identify products you don’t currently sell or services you don’t currently provide that people in your field might be seeking. For example, if you have a fitness center you may identify a type of exercise class that’s popular but you don’t yet offer. If you run a salon, look for products and treatments your customers would appreciate. This is another way that monitoring the competition can be fruitful. Find out what they’re offering that you aren’t. By listening to conversations you can determine how popular these offerings are and whether it’s worth it to add them to your own business.

These are some of the top ways to get the most out of your social listening tools. To succeed on popular social media platforms today, you need a variety of social media management tools that let you monitor conversations, track your results, post on a schedule and perform other essential tasks. Social listening is a crucial component that can give you an edge over the competition.