What is Social Listening?
Social listening means gathering insights from posts and comments shared on social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Insights can be opinions or feelings users share with each other among the billions of conversations happening every day online.
Users share their feelings about products, brands, customer experience, their preferences, intentions, motivations, and problems.
These insights are crucial to organizations’ and brands’ growth; they provide market knowledge for planning, product development, marketing, competitor analysis, and a lot more.
Why Social Listening?
“Knowledge is power”
Before social listening technology, getting real insights from the public was hard; asking customers and strangers to take surveys, interviewing, sending spies and ‘secret shoppers’, reading, researching, and then trying to make sense of the information gathered.
This was an unreliable, slow and expensive process.
As social media has continued to grow in popularity and more people spend more time on social media apps, the thoughts, feelings, and ideas shared by users provide an immense and invaluable resource for understanding the hearts and minds of consumers and the public.
Major corporations started using social listening as a replacement for traditional market research and they found it had many advantages…
Real-time. Brands get instant feedback about new products and services, they can manage a PR crisis as it emerges, identify opportunities and trends immediately, and act.
Honest and in-depth. Social media users say what they really think, and posts can turn into conversations with large groups of users giving feedback on each other’s opinions.
Virtually bottomless. The volume of available data is so huge it can’t be compared to any other method of market and consumer research.
Digital. Because the data collected is digital, it can be analyzed at scale, for highly accurate insights and a range of actionable metrics.
Then and Now
In the early years of social listening, it was only for major corporations or universities, with teams of data science experts using complex software; a technical and specialized field that very few people knew about or could benefit from.
Advanced Social Listening tools are now designed for anyone to use. Even a one-person business or a student working on a research project can get in-depth insights about industry, market, consumers, etc. instantly without special training or expertise.
How is Social Listening Different from Social Media Monitoring?
Social media monitoring means monitoring specific channels for mentions. For example, if you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or a YouTube channel, you can see what people are saying about you or your brand, you can comment and get feedback, interact with users, and build relationships.
Social media monitoring is very important for brands or businesses. Mandala AI’s Cosmos is a fantastic and easy (and free!) tool for this.
Social listening is different because it gives a much broader sample of data (mentions) from conversations taking place on all social media platforms from users who may or may not be your followers. It offers diverse and honest opinions and ideas, lets you track trends and changes in the market, and analyzes a wide range of metrics.
With Mandala Analytics, for example, you’re able to analyze the entire social media landscape, understand the patterns, trends, and most relevant insights and then zoom in to focus on the data that matters most.
Social listening helps you find out:
- What time are users posting and what time are posts receiving engagement?
- What kind of engagement are they receiving?
- What kind of posts get the most or least engagement?
- Are there any negative posts, and how are users responding?
- What other topics/keywords are frequently mentioned along with my focus keywords?
- Who are the influencers posting on this topic, and who are their followers?
How Does it Work?
Social listening tools work by harnessing the power of big data (very large data sets). Software tools like Hootsuite, Brand 24, and Mandala Analytics collect specific kinds of ‘mentions’, from across various social media platforms and organize that information to give insights.
What are Mentions?
Mentions are social media posts that contain a target keyword. A keyword can be a single word, or multiple words together, just like with web search. When you type words or terms (keywords) into a search engine like Google, the magic of Google will deliver a list of millions of websites, ranked by their relevance to your keywords.
Social listening tools work in a similar way, using keywords to identify relevant content, but rather than delivering you a list of websites, you get a sampling of mentions from across social media.
A social listening campaign using the keyword ‘shark’ might give mentions like this:
This is a Facebook post (from a public page) using the word ‘shark’.
So, social listening is like a Google search for social media?… well, yes, but not really. It’s much more than that.
Website content can be considered static, and Google has already cataloged every website in the world, so it can give you a search result instantly. Social media data is constantly replenished, so the social listening tools will take a moment to gather a sample of mentions, up to hundreds of thousands of mentions at a time.
A tool like Mandala Analytics can provide historical mentions up to twelve months old, can be set to gather mentions continuously, or can gather mentions within a set window of time.
Here’s Why Brands and Businesses are turning to Social Listening:
The one thing that we’ve learned over the last few years is that things can change, and these changes can be major and can happen quickly. The huge growth in social media usage and changes in user behavior have shown us we need to be responsive and adapt to changes as they happen, and to do this we need the right knowledge at the right time.
Brands have shifted away from being simple messengers of their products or desirable ‘lifestyle’, to becoming more like influencers and even friends with their customers. In this new environment, it’s all about building relationships, and marketers are turning to social listening tools as a central to their strategies.
- Boost Your Brand
Monitoring and benchmarking online mentions let you build better awareness and manage your brand more effectively. By knowing where and when people are talking about you or your competitors, you can direct your attention to the right place, and industry insights help you stay ahead of the curve.
- Manage Your Campaigns
When planning a campaign requires plenty of information. You need to have clear goals in terms of your target demographics, where they are, what they like, and how you’re going to reach them. Monitoring campaigns before, during, and after lets you know what works and what doesn’t, and learning from others’ campaigns helps you avoid mistakes and get your placement and scale just right.
- Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
Competitor Analysis lets you see what people are saying about the other players in your market. Choose who your main rivals are and watch their every move, while also monitoring their customers. What do they like or dislike about those brands and where are the opportunities to make inroads with those customers?
- Create Winning Content
Why does some content fail, while others go viral? Knowing what kind of content brings the most engagement and takes your message the furthest doesn’t need to be a mystery. Social Listening tools can help you to understand how users and audiences react and interact with content, taking the guess work out of content creation.
- Identify Key Trends and Influencers
70% of teens and 86% of women trust influencers and use social media for purchasing advice. For those starting out, influencer marketing is the most cost-effective way to build awareness and stand, building familiarity and trust among a highly targeted audience. Social listening allows you to spot rising trends and find exactly the right influencers for your brand and manage their campaigns for maximum ROI.
How to Get Started
Use Mandala Analytics completely free for two weeks, and set up social listening campaigns to gather and analyze thousands of mentions for yourself. You can use all the major features of the platform, and even download data or generate reports.
Once your free trial ends, you’ll Mandala Analytics is very competitively priced and there is a wide range of packages to suit any budget.