Social listening and content development might sound like two totally different areas of digital marketing, but the truth is that they’re more connected than you think. Companies that leverage social listening during the creative process can develop content that’s more relevant to their audience’s interests.
In this article, we’ll explore the close connection between social listening and strong content marketing practices. We’ll also help you build more effective social listening practices that will help you understand how your brand is perceived by others and how to use social listening for content creation.
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What Is Social Listening?
Social listening is the process of monitoring and analyzing social media and the web to see what people are saying about your brand. That could be as simple as looking for complaints posted online, but it also includes many other types of content.
In our increasingly digital environment, consumers engage with brands online in more ways than ever before. A 2021 survey found that 18% or more of consumers report the following kinds of engagement that could pop up in social listening:
- Leaving reviews of products and services
- Sharing content related to the company or brand
- Reporting issues with products and services
- Private messaging brand or company accounts
- Tagging brands in their own social media posts
How Does Social Listening Work?
If you’re a brand-new company with a small audience, you might be able to perform social listening by simply checking social media platforms on your own. However, this solution isn’t going to scale very well as your business grows. Dedicated social listening platforms are the best way to stay on top of your social presence without wasting resources.
Monitoring social media sentiment and staying in active communication with your audience can make a big difference in your social media engagement. For example, simply helping social media users through product and service issues will give users a positive impression of your brand.
4 Ways to Use Social Listening for Content Creation
Once you have good social listening practices in place, you can start leveraging those insights to produce better content. Looking at what people are saying on social media is one of the best ways to identify their questions and concerns. From there, you can establish yourself as a thought leader by working on content that responds to those ideas.
1. Identify & Respond to Common Pain Points
For example, let’s say that many of your customers are posting about the same issue with one of your products. They may not know how to use it correctly or how to troubleshoot the problem on their own.
Instead of waiting for them to come through customer support, you could add an entry in your FAQ that responds to the issue being mentioned. This is just one straightforward example of how social listening can feed directly into your content strategy. You could even reply to individual posts and let them know about the new resource.
When you’re setting up your first social listening workflow, you might focus on basics like the name of your brand or the name of specific products. Some brands also provide hashtags that users can add to their posts in order to make them more visible to your team. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new ideas—you won’t make progress without expanding your repertoire.
At the same time, you need to keep a consistent eye on performance and engagement to make consistent improvements. For example, your social listening platform should enable you to view mentions and engagement over time for particular words or topics.
If engagement spiked on a particular date, try to tie that to specific posts or comments that got people interested. Over time, you’ll get more of a feel for how to identify posts that could be relevant to your company.
Word clouds are another great resource for brands that are working out the best way to use their resources. Try to identify the most relevant topics that your followers are mentioning. If you want to bring them to your site, you need to be producing content that generates natural engagement from those subjects.
2. Find Great User-Generated Content
On the other hand, you can also take advantage of positive feedback by using it in your own content. User-generated content tends to be more credible than content that comes from brands, since audiences perceive it as a more authentic experience.
If you’re having trouble getting enough user-generated content, ask your audience to tag your brand or post with a particular hashtag. This will make it easier to find the kinds of posts you’re looking for.
Some brands go even further by running contests and giveaways that encourage user-generated content. You could give social media users one prize entry for each of the following actions:
- Following each of your brand’s social media profiles
- Sharing your brand with their social media followers
- Posting an image of themselves using one of your products or services
In 2022, consumers are used to receiving more ads than they have time to read. Most of us tune promotional content out when browsing social media. User-generated content avoids that apathy by showing audiences that there’s a real community of people who are interested in your brand.
3. Learn from Your Competition
Social listening gives you the chance to find out what people are saying about your brand. At the same time, it also allows you to learn how audiences view other companies in your field. Competitor research is a key component of social listening, and it can be highly effective for content creation.
Keep in mind that competitors may be active on channels that you aren’t using. For example, even if you don’t have a brand Twitter profile, you should still try to monitor what audiences are saying on Twitter. It’s important to cast the widest possible net so that you don’t miss any social listening insights.
At the same time, social listening to your competitors can also benefit you in more direct ways. If one of your competitor’s customers gives negative feedback about your competitor, it can help you identify weak spots. This could prompt you to highlight differentiating features or create content that hones in on this weakness.
For example, you might see that another company is generating lots of positive engagement from a recent fundraiser or charity event. If someone else has already found a path to success, don’t be afraid to emulate some of their strategies! Learning from your competition is a key part of marketing. At the same time, you need to make enough changes to differentiate your strategies from theirs.
4. Respond to Both Positive and Negative Comments
You can sometimes post user-generated content on your own account, but you should also be actively responding to other mentions whenever possible.
Like we mentioned earlier, FAQ pages and other resources can help your audience resolve more issues on their own. Still, it’s impossible for almost any brand to avoid receiving negative social media comments in 2022. The question isn’t whether you’ll get these comments, but rather what you’ll do about them.
Responding to customer questions and concerns and making the effort to fix the problem will make you appear more helpful and increase consumer confidence in your brand. Even if it’s too late to fix the original problem, you may be able to smooth things over by offering an apology or a free gift. Turning negative interactions into positive ones is one of the best things you can do for your social media presence.
Similarly, replying to positive comments and experiences highlights your brand impact and shows that you’re invested in your customers. Any successful application of your products or services is free marketing, and even a quick response from you will put that content in front of a wider audience.
Salesforce, for example, regularly reaches out to Twitter users who post their hashtags or simply mention the brand. Most messages are short and to the point — usually just a quick “congratulations” and a brief follow-up question that invites the user to continue the interaction.
Understanding what social media users are saying about your brand is the first step of social listening. However, that information is only valuable if you use it to make more informed decisions. Content marketing is just one of many crucial applications of social listening data for forward-thinking businesses.
Social media engagement should be a two-way street, with active communication between you and your audience. As you learn more about your audience, you’ll be able to craft content that responds to their concerns and demonstrates the value of your brand. Among other benefits, social listening tools are a vital resource for effective content development in 2022.
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