Social Listening: What is it and why is it important for business?

By Account Management Intern, Riley O’Shea

Renowned marketing expert Austin Powers once noted that the size of your social web presence is irrelevant, but rather “it’s how you use it” that really matters. Naturally, Mr. Powers was describing the latest digital marketing trend known as “social listening.” At its core, social listening involves closely monitoring conversations taking place on social media about your brand, giving you the power to identify opportunities to engage with customers and prospects. Through today’s social platforms, consumers engage brands in real time and firms can’t afford not to listen and market at the same speed.

Mining through mounds of seemingly irrelevant tweets and never-ending social mentions may seem impossible, but facilitation tools like Hootsuite and Brandwatch allow firms to harness all of social media’s unstructured data. Through these tools, firms “listen” to their consumers by identifying both key words and influencers directly related to their brand. Where specific words unearth the woes or triumphs felt by the individual consumer, the observation of big influencers (like industry experts with a large social presence) gives firms greater industry visibility.

The business applications of social listening are endless. Customer service issues can be addressed on the spot with direct assistance or simple expressions of empathy, working to give the brand a more human touch. Geo-location settings distinguish varying brand chatter across regions, paving the way for more efficient marketing strategies. Additionally, social listening allows firms to keep a close eye on how consumers interact with competitive brands.

Today, consumers demand perfect service and will quickly express their opinions through social media. Social listening gives firms the needed edge to constantly market to these mobile, social customers.