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Social Listening: the Art of Listening in Social Media

Social media has grown to become the number one activity on the internet. The increase in social media interactions means that people are now talking about anything and everything in the public domain.

With this in mind, is your business listening to your customers?

Customers may not always respond directly to your business’s social media page. They may not even mention your business in their conversations, but they could still be talking about your products and services. But, is your business listening to this feedback?

A recent report found that only 24% of brands are participating in social listening.1

What is social listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital media channels to devise a strategy that will better influence consumers. Taking information from places that consumers participate in online can be invaluable.2

As a tool, social media can be used for much more than just selling your products or services. It’s a platform where consumers interact to ask questions, find out more information, get recommendations, and seek product support.

If you have an established social media presence, customers expect that they can use the platform to communicate with you.

Social listening can also be beneficial in terms of business intelligence. Here are some examples of what you can learn:

  • What customers are saying about your business
  • Their experiences with your products or services
  • How you can improve your products or services
  • Your competitors’ activity. Remember, data is in the public domain, meaning they can monitor you too!
  • The demographics of your customers. This information can be used to improve your overall marketing strategy.

But, what are you listening for?

To participate in social listening, it’s important to build up a list of keywords that not only mentions your company, but also the types of products and services you provide.

What tools are available?

There are hundreds of tools available to assist businesses with social listening and social media monitoring. Some tools are free, while others are a paid subscription service.

Here are some examples of the available tools:

  • Hootsuite
  • Google Alerts
  • Social Mention
  • Mention
  • Icerocket
  • Google Trends
  • BoardReader
  • All Top
  • Monitor This
  • TrackUr
  • Sprout Social

This list isn’t comprehensive, but it’s a good starting point to research the features and how they may suit your business.

Now that you’re listening, what happens next?

  • If you notice your customers talking about your business or products/services:
    • Join the conversation
    • Engage by answering questions
    • Follow up on comments
    • Interact by offering advice
  • If customer complaints arise, deal with them in an empathetic way and offer a solution
  • Respond in a timely manner – no more than 24 hours
  • Incorporate social listening into part of your daily activities
  • Start small – focus on three to four channels.

Social media listening is about creating a real presence and adding value to your customers. With a regular commitment, you can improve customer satisfaction and deliver a better product to market.



I'm Michelle Tolhurst the owner, director of Creative Desk Pty Ltd. I'm your virtual marketing assistant working with small businesses around Australia in their creative communications, email campaigns, websites, social media and desktop publishing.

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