One of the challenges of social media marketing is knowing where to focus your efforts. With so many users and a multitude of platforms, the problem isn’t too few choices but too many. It can take quite a bit of research to locate your ideal audience. This is where social media listening comes in. This refers to strategies that let you tap into the vast number of conversations going on in social media. You can then insert yourself into these conversations and reach the people who are most receptive to what you have to offer.
What is Social Media Listening?
Social media is all about conversations. The problem is, there are billions of conversations on countless topics happening on sites such as Facebook and Twitter every single day. As a social media marketer, one of your jobs is to make sense of these conversations and learn from them. While comments, posts and links may seem random, they can actually be categorized in many useful ways. Social media listening can help you answer a number of important questions.
- Which brands in various industries are currently being discussed? It’s also important to note what is being said about brands and whether it’s mostly positive or negative. You’re most interested in what people are saying about your brand, of course. However, you also want to know what’s being said about your competitors and brands in related industries.
- Who are the top influencers in different fields? Whose blog posts, videos and social media posts are being shared most widely?
- Which hashtags are popular right now? These provide valuable clues about what topics and people are currently trending.
- What are people’s attitudes on political, social and economic issues?
- Who is saying what about topics related to your industry? For example, if you’re selling mountain bikes, which people are talking the most about mountain biking? This includes factors such as age, gender, geography and income bracket. The same is true if you want to learn about dog owners, people who join fitness clubs or people who eat pizza.
- What new topics and trends are being discussed this week? These may be familiar topics that are currently trending or brand new trends.
- What kind of images, memes and videos are being most widely shared right now?
These are just a few of the many things that can help you improve your social media marketing efforts. Tapping into so many diverse conversations can be a complicated and time-consuming process. There are, however, some good social media listening tools that can make your task easier.
Fill Your Funnel
New leads are the lifeblood of any business. What you really need, however, are highly targeted leads. Social media listening gives you a way to find the most relevant leads by finding out where the members of your audience are hanging out and what they’re saying.
Social media listening helps you identify which platforms are most useful for your brand. With more and more social media platforms emerging, it’s becoming impossible to have a strong presence on each one. Aside from Twitter and Facebook, there’s LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat and Instagram. If you try to cover all of these and other platforms, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. Most businesses can benefit most by focusing on a few key platforms.
New platforms are constantly entering the fray. In addition, social media demographics change over time. For example, when Facebook first started to become the dominant social media site, it was mainly popular among younger users. Today, younger people are flocking towards Instagram and Snapchat while Facebook users are getting older. Monitoring social media conversations ensures that you know where your audience is currently spending its time. This helps you choose the right platforms from where you can get the best leads.
Another key area where social media listening helps is by identifying the needs of your audience. No matter what you are marketing, you have to keep up with the problems, needs and desires of your customers. This is not always a simple issue, as it changes over time. The myriad conversations on social media provide one of the best places to tune into what people really want at this very moment. Once you have this information, you can use it to get new leads in a number of ways.
- Paid advertising. If you use Facebook ads or promoted posts, you can learn which demographics to target. The same is true for Twitter advertising or any other type of social media ads. Social media monitoring also gives you clues that help you create more compelling headlines and copy for your ads.
- Plan your content strategy. The kind of content you put out on social media has a big impact on your sales funnel. When you’re talking about the latest topics that fascinate your audience, they’ll be motivated to find out more about you.
- Forge partnerships with leading influencers in your niche. Social listening helps you identify these influential people.
- Keep tabs on your competition. Your competitors are also building their own sales funnels and you want to know when they introduce new products, add new features or lower their prices. You want to be able to respond swiftly to anything they do.
Social media usage is growing all the time. It’s also becoming more fragmented as more platforms are available. This makes it crucial to develop a social media listening strategy. Without a way to sift through and organize the billions of conversations going on every day, you won’t be able to effectively target your customers. By listening intently to what people are saying on social media, you can fill your funnel with highly targeted leads. You can then launch more profitable paid advertising campaigns, create more compelling content and spy on your competition. If you want to use social media today, you simply must become a good listener.
(Image credit: Flickr user ihardlyflickr)