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​Take Your Strategy to New Heights with Social Listening

By Perri Robinson

Social media has presented numerous opportunities for brands to drive further engagement by truly understanding their audience’s needs. To get ahead in the social media race, you need to get to grips with your target audience first - namely who they are and what they’re talking about.

There’s a goldmine of data in the public domain from the two way conversations taking place on social media. This makes it easier than ever for companies to capture the attention of their audience by listening to what they actually want and responding in kind.

Here are some of the best ways we’ve found to implement social listening to help boost lead generation and sales conversions.

1. Understanding trending themes to inform your strategy

When potential customers consider making a purchase, in most cases, they partake in research first. They ask their online and offline community questions based on their needs, and the community responds with its suggestions.

Word of mouth is now considered more trustworthy than branded messages, and this type of conversational exchange is gold dust for brands to track. By doing so, you can understand key trending themes which could inform how you should be communicating with them, and not only on social either.

For example, what does your audience like or dislike about you? Or you may notice your community often mentioning one of your competitors in the same breath as your brand, and decide to create content subtly drawing on your strengths in comparison. Tracking wider industry keywords, phrases, hashtags and thought leaders can also help you uncover up and coming trends before your competitors. This can significantly help improve your perception as a thought leader, increasing lead generation and sales conversions.

2. Identifying brand advocates

Social media is awash with brand advocates and user generated content, you just need to know how to find it.

Any sufficient social media monitoring tool such as Meltwater will be able to identify top posters and positive sentiment conversations.

Once you’ve identified your advocates on social, you can start building relationships with them and using them to your advantage.

Take SodaStream as an example. They receive between 200,000 - 400,000 mentions on social media every day, which makes it impossible for them to reply to all conversations. Not one to take engagement for granted, SodaStream still want to acknowledge their advocates and connect with valuable community members. The challenge is knowing where to find the influential advocates in order to prioritise response.

Itai Bichler, ‎Head of Global Digital Marketing at SodaStream uses social listening to do this. “The influence ranking system in Meltwater’s tool truly excels when it comes to drilling down into the social content for context,” By using a ranking system that takes into account the size of the posters community, frequency at which they participate on social and their level of engagement, Itai is able to identify community members who will make the most impact for their brand. “Organic mentions from influencers are so important, especially when they’ve actually used our product. This type of engagement builds trust, relevance and authenticity.” Once SodaStream discovers an influential poster or brand advocate, they acknowledge their engagement through surprise and delight tactics such as sending gifts – helping to fuel the positive conversations further.

3. Competitive intelligence

It’s important that you keep an eye on what your competitors are doing on social. What do they do well? What do they do less well? Which is their best performing content? How well are they engaging their community? By answering these types of questions you can often draw insights. You can then dive deeper into these insights to better understand the types of conversations (good and bad) fuelling the engagement. Be aware, however, simply copying your competitors won’t help you get ahead. You need to be different, as being different helps you become irreplaceable. To be different you first need to understand what you’re up against – something competitive intelligence can shed light on.

4. Customer service

Social media is now used as a customer service tool more so than ever due to its real time nature. What better way to get a company to notice your concerns than by airing their dirty laundry online for all to see. Your audience is likely to be put off by a Twitter stream of negative conversations, and a tweet by an influential person can quickly escalate into a full blown brand crisis. This makes it just as important to social listen for negative comments as it is to listen out for brand advocates and you should always have a crisis management plan in place.

And it’s not just large brands using social media from a customer service perspective. Social media plays a large role in Elliot Nichols, Head of PR at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s job too. Like many NHS organisations, Northumbria Healthcare receives lots of online mentions. Elliot explains, “Crises can be misinterpreted, particularly on Twitter. There could be an influencer/ stakeholder who have got the wrong end of the stick. We must, therefore, monitor, in real time, what’s being said, by whom and to what audience. This way we can spot where something may have been misinterpreted, as well as opportunities to influence opinion.”

Take a look at Meltwater’s ebook, Listen Up! A Guide to Social Listening across Your Business if you want to learn more about finding the online conversations that matter most to your brand.

Guest post by Perri Robinson, Head of Marketing at Meltwater UK & Ireland


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