From Hemingway to every other self help book ever written, there's a recurring theme of the value of listening. As marketers, we can get too focused on the messages that we are trying to put out into the market, but the reality is that messaging isn't a one-way street anymore: brands grow and thrive because of advocates and evangelists (not static outbound messaging), consumers demand transparency and expect change to follow feedback. We need to get back to the basics of communication and listen to the feedback, the criticism, the jokes, and the trends. What we call social media listening is the process of hearing what is being said and responding to it, from replying to a tweet to rolling out a new app.
What is most valuable about social media listening is the fact that it is actionable and in real-time. It's more than just reaching out to the right people at the right time. It's about taking that time to really connect with those people.
LISTENING VS. MONITORING
However, it is not to be confused with social media monitoring. Monitoring is discovering and viewing what people have to say. Monitoring is tracking who is talking about you, while listening is hearing what they have to say. Listening is taking what you are monitoring, analyzing it and leveraging it into an opportunity to either engage with your audience or optimize an aspect of your brand.
ABOVE & BEYOND
One January afternoon, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn wanted to display her fondness of Burger King with her mug and Burger King tweeted a *toast* back to her. Instead of a simple thanks they took the time to design a mug with her picture on it, taking that extra step to delight Clyburn and other followers.
listening is "easy"
Social media listening can be as simple as helping a customer decide what they want for lunch between Papa John's and Domino's. Even if it's a little braggy like Papa John's stepping in to someone's decision-making process.
Social media listening can be very valuable, insightful, even surprising (or terrifying) at times but ultimately builds relationships between you and your brand's followers.
Audience engagement, consumer research, and discovering how people perceive your brand or business in relation to the competition are just a few things social media listening can help you improve. You also could identify pain points that your industry is facing and be the leader in delivering solutions.
brands who make LISTENING look easy
Social listening is an opportunity to jump in to a conversation and show your human side: from compassion and understanding, to silliness and jokes. Humor is one of the trickiest things to balance in a brand's social strategy, because often brands feel compelled to exhibit professionalism and excellence. Those are great things, but we're on social to be real(ly silly). Starbucks is great at chiming in, and in this case, giving a little shot of self-esteem.
If any brand has social listening and jokes covered, it's DiGiorno. They are constantly engaging on Twitter and known for their witty responses to their customers. Here they are hopping onto a poll about comedians and clearly DiGiorno's social media manager could hold their own on a stand-up night.
These brands aren't the only ones making social listening look easy. There are many brands who take the time to engage with their audience. Here are a few brands to follow and watch how they engage with followers and non-followers on the daily: McDonalds, Amazon, JetBlue, and Taco Bell.
Every brand does social media listening differently. Some are funny and fierce, and others are helpful and professional. What they have in common is they are all aware that listening affects how their brand is perceived. How they choose to engage through social listening is how they stand out. Whether it's entertaining their followers' polls or helping figure out what they're having for lunch, tuning in to your what audience is talking about and doing online shows your brand's human side.
CONCLUSION/ KEY TAKEAWAY:
Monitoring what people are saying online about you is important. However, what's more important is how you use that information to better enhance your business.