The world’s top brands know how to navigate a changing landscape. Companies like Nike, Amazon, Airbnb, Patagonia, and Apple, recognize what drives consumer behavior and work hard to gain an understanding of who their customers, fans, followers and loyalists are.
They don’t just make great products and services, they harness the power of listening and engaging real people at a personal level. They have mastered the art of assembling a passionate and vocal tribe.
The best brands in the world are the ones who move from speaking to people to speaking with people.
You don’t need to be a billion dollar revenue company to think big. In fact, thinking big now means acting small. Leading brands will excel as they build connections with people at scale.
To establish real connections with consumers, you’ll need to be armed with data.
Social listening technology is a game changer in the marketing, advertising and consumer research space. The machine learning and intelligence capabilities now available to brands and businesses have created a remarkable opportunity to become elite customer-driven entities.
So, how can listening help you gain an edge on your competition, impress your boss with need-to-know consumer insights and performance data, and gauge the success of your products and campaigns?
The answer is: conversations. As in billions of them. Online, right now, everywhere. In the last few years, the quality and value of these conversations has skyrocketed, which means we need to listen in. Listening tools mine through all the data and unstructured online text, uncovering some of the most incredible information about consumers that you always wished you had.
There are so many reasons for social listening to be a part of your digital marketing strategy, but if we could only choose 3, here they are:
1. Measure Performance
As a marketer, analyst or strategist, you need data on how all your efforts are performing. Analytics from whatever platforms you’re reviewing, whether it’s social media metrics, soft drip emails, digital media buying or paid search, give you a good overview of success in their respective areas. But they don’t tell you everything you need to know.
Social listening metrics go beyond clicks and engagement to analyze people—their thoughts, feelings, interests, actions, sentiment and demographical information that helps you get true insight into your consumers. Integrated with all the metrics mentioned above, you can get a higher quality analysis of consumers from a much larger sample size.
Bonus: this data doesn’t just apply to online campaigns. You can measure reaction to offline efforts too. This will help your brand get into the mind of customers, fans, followers and those who aren’t connected with you at all.
2. Spy on your competitors
To stay ahead of your rival businesses, you need competitive intelligence that combines insights about your industry, your customers and what those competitors are up to. It’s not enough to just monitor what other companies are doing. You need to see how the different worlds react and interact in relation to those companies.
Starbucks absolutely would like to know if Dunkin Donuts is changing their name to just Dunkin’ with the goal of competing in the large chain coffee space—which they’re actively considering. But that information does little to actually measure data.
Social media listening digs deep to find a holistic and thorough, real-time report of many different data points that can be used to analyze your competing brands. Online sentiment analysis, for example, can help you analyze how people perceive your brand with respect to your rivals during a specific time frame or following an important campaign.
Another great competitive analysis hack is that you can monitor online conversation to see what the driving forces are behind consumer action and needs. You can even beat your competitors to the punch by discovering customer pain points or opportunities that others in your space haven’t yet addressed.
3. Understand Consumers
We need to get past just monitoring our customers and start understanding them.
Marketers are under increased pressure these days to find out what customers want so they can frame their brand messaging around addressing those needs.
To get to a place where we understand, we must first listen. The best marketers are the ones who help their brand or business provide value, and to do so, you need to find out what’s valuable to your consumers.
With the power of social listening tools, you can leverage such insights to truly read the minds of the people you want to do business with, your audience, your influencers, and yes, your competitors.
Here are just some of the insights to gain with social media listening:
- Demographics and psychographics data
- Consumer emotions, interests and behaviors
- How passionate consumers are about brands, campaigns and topics
- Identify influencers, how they discuss your brand and how influential they are
- How many conversations there are about specific brands
- Most popular hashtags or companies around a specific topic, brand, people or campaign
- Discover how your company is perceived compared to competitor brands historically and in real time
Social media listening delivers too many insights for your team to use and that can help your brand improve your products, marketing and customer experience. Don't miss out on them.
On top of that, it’s a technology that your competitors are likely to have already. To keep up, you’ll need a powerful platform to lean on for insights on your tribe.
This digital world moves way too fast for your marketing, advertising and customer experience/service teams to win without the right technology and intelligence. With so many questions for marketers to answer in order to stay ahead, there’s more reason than ever to get the absolute most out of marketing technology and consumer data.
If your brand or business wants to emulate the leaders in your industry, you’ll need to gain the consumer insights that they have. There are many reasons to invest in social listening, but these 3 are the only ones you need.