The iconic TV sitcom character, Frasier, began each call-in to his psychology radio show with the phrase, “I’m listening.”
A psychologist’s role is to listen intently, to learn everything they can about their patients and what their concerns, fears and needs are, then turn that knowledge into something useful.
Marketers need to embrace their inner psychologist. Social listening provides that opportunity.
It’s no secret that people live so much of their lives online. 3.75 billion people are now regular internet users. Those internet users aren’t passive observers. They’re active, vocal and engage with each other, brands and publishers in vast sea of conversation and content. And that is where the truth lies.
Being the curious marketer you are, your team is constantly searching for answers. As your team is seeking the metric proof for its marketing strategy, you can implement social media listening to dial those efforts up to 11.
Luckily for marketers, the advancement of intelligent technology has broken down barriers between brand and consumer.
Borne out of that technology, social media listening is a powerful tactic to learn real, actionable insights about customers, competitors, influencers and every other online audience.
Here is how social media listening is transforming the marketing process:
1. Faster research
Intelligent listening means information in real-time. Long have marketers suffered at the hands of time waiting on survey results, or spent a fortune on focus groups that are less than accurate. Listening helps you discover new audiences and figure out how people feel and do so immediately.
Having this data right at your fingertips will help your team research your audience and make key marketing decisions right then and there.
This can be vital in understanding the demographics and sentiment of your audience, analyzing your brand’s overall influence, share of voice in your industry, capturing data on your competitors, and developing audience and buyer personas.
On top of that, you can go back in time, getting far reaching historical data going back over a decade. This could help you gauge the effectiveness and successes of past campaigns and branding efforts. With this information, you can look back at those efforts to inform your current planning and strategies.
2. More accurate research
Companies often rely on inaccurate data about consumer behavior, which can lead to big branding problems.
Take JCPenney’s epic 2012 rebranding fail for instance. Like other retailers, JCPenney’s has struggled mightily to adapt to the rapidly changing ways we shop. They attempted to address their slumping sales—sucked dry by online shopping to places like Amazon—by trying a bold new strategy.
But, that strategy failed. Why? They were relying on inaccurate data about their consumers. They came to the woefully wrong conclusion that shoppers had grown tired of all the promotions, coupons and wacky sales events and discontinued them all. They updated their branding with slogans like “Enough. Is. Enough.” and “Fair and square pricing.”
While we’re unsure what kind of research they did, I think anyone could have predicted the fail. After all, what is the point of promotions and coupons if not to drive people into stores?
To avoid your own fails, you’ll need more accurate consumer research data.
Social listening tools provide market researchers with more precise data because it utilizes a much larger sample size for sentiment and feeling of any given topic. It also takes the human error out of audience research with automation.
Bots and automated monitoring programs may be useful for other tactics, but when it comes to discovering audiences, understanding customers, developing buyer personas and analyzing user data, you need to find information about people, not clicks.
Lastly, because there are endless online conversations, listening captures the thoughts, emotions and behaviors that are unsolicited, leading to a much more accurate aggregate of consumer data.
Using the precise insights gathered through social media listening can help brands get a much better understanding of what people want, who they are and how they feel about you.
The lesson? Guide your strategies and execution using data, not assumptions.
3. Better Planning
Regardless of what team you’re on (digital, broadcast, product, paid media, search, email, social or within a strategy department that covers them all) listening tools provide valuable information about consumers that can help you plan it all out.
As you’re developing your planning and tactics, you’ll need insights on how your audiences feel, how effective your previous campaigns are performing (see below) and what your competitors up to.
What’s more, listening helps with your brainstorming. I like to use listening data to lead team workshops, to spark ideation and find out how we can develop the right messages for fans and followers.
This is useful even outside marketing teams. Take the information you find during listening discovery and research to creative teams so that your writers and designers are best prepared to create great work for all of your branding efforts.
4. Performance Measurement and Analysis
You don't have to wait for studies, surveys or that campaign post-mortem. The social listening metrics available within a platform like Infegy Atlas can help you take a deep look at performance right away.
To gain an edge on the competition, utilize more measurements than you get from the typical dashboard: such as sentiment, audience interests and more robust demographic data.
This is a great opportunity for you to understand how well your marketing efforts are at each touch point, regardless if it’s online or offline. As people share their experiences online, analyze those conversations to see how successful a campaign is, what people thought of your television commercial or even reaction after a special event.
By listening to the universe of online conversations, you can better understand how effective your marketing efforts are, then use those insights to adjust and improve.
5. Achieve Marketing Goals and Give Customers What they Actually Want
You have your sights set high. We get you. You’re doing the right thing by thinking audaciously with your marketing goals. To achieve them, you need to give customers what they want.
We put together a 5-step guide to developing authentic connections and understanding audiences better, which you can read here. Below is a quick look at those 5 steps and how listening can addresses each to help your team is working to achieve those lofty marketing goals:
Be customer focused
Brands need to move away from talking about themselves and keep the people they’re trying to reach at front of mind. Pursuing the right insights about consumers is a great way for your team stay customer-focused.
Be a solution
Genuine engagement with audiences opens the door to a lot of opportunities to meet their needs. This is because people say what they’re thinking online. By using listening tools to find out people’s thoughts and feelings, you can help your brand be the solution to your customers biggest problems or needs.
Transparency is your best friend. Being open and easy-to-reach is an important aspect of your brand’s marketing efforts. Understand your customers, followers, fans and those who are talking about you, and then be there for them when they need you.
You wouldn’t think that online listening would be essential to helping your team to be more human. But if you consider the necessity of quality customer service, you know that you have to listen intently to what your customers are saying, and chances are they’re saying it online. Therefore, to help customers remember that your company is human, be a good listener!
You should be the go-to brand for all your customers’ and potential customers’ needs. Listen to the issues they’re having and be the first to address them. Do this, and consumers will see you as irreplaceable.
Transform your role
The marketing process has been completely turned on its head thanks to technology and intelligence. Now marketers have an incredible opportunity to make concrete business impact via their strategy and implementation by utilizing such technologies.
Social listening is revolutionizing the marketing process of research, planning, execution and analysis. By channeling their inner psychologist within their day-to-day roles, marketers can enhance each step of their processes and guide their strategy with precise data in real time.
Listening is a whole different game than monitoring and engaging. It provides answers for far more questions and helps you find solutions to their problems in a variety of different areas that may or may not even touch digital campaigns. With social intelligence and listening tools, you’ll find a holistic platform that’s fast, far reaching and precise.
Ready to see what social listening can do for you? Get a free personalized demo today to see how it can transform your team’s efforts. Go ahead, we’re listening.