By Lasse Lund

June 17th, 2016

Whether your business is B2B or B2C-focused, social media is typically thought of as a way to better serve customers by engaging them using the communications channel of their choice. Social media listening is absolutely crucial to this process, but it can also be applied to improving other aspects of your campaigns.

In fact, focusing your social strategy purely on customer engagement will result in some big missed opportunities. Social media channels offer insight beyond the individual, allowing you to see wider trends and topics that your campaigns need to address.

Marketing and Big Data
For many businesses, big data remains an inward-facing process. They collect as much data as they possibly can about their processes and their customers, pooling information to create an enormous, searchable repository.

This information is then analyzed for new opportunities to build better products, sell more effectively to existing customers, or streamline operations to reduce costs. In many respects, social media listening is exactly the same process, but turns the attention outward to gather external data to better target potential customers.

But big data is as much a corporate ethos as it is a technology discipline – every business unit can get involved and benefit. The marketing department can lead the way in helping extend big data projects to include externally held data – such as the billions of publicly-accessible status updates provided by social networks.

Where internally held data typically holds hard facts – volumes sold, delivery lead times, stock availability – social media allows greater insight into what people think, individually or as a community. Tapping into this data and looking at the big picture allows marketing to not only better serve customers, but to get ahead of the game.

social media listening and falcon audience management

Falcon not only helps you collect data, but piece it together to reveal insights.

The opportunity to be a thought leader
Even before the age of social media, effective business relied on knowing what your potential market wanted and developing products to suit. Access to mass sentiment allows you to not only develop better-targeted products and services, but also more effective marketing messages.

Understanding what people are talking about, and identifying new trends early, allows you to build messages that shape the conversation. Early, accurate content that adds value and demonstrates authority is the first step towards establishing your business as a thought leader.

Rather than fighting to claim authority of an existing space, using social media listening allows you to be first. Which means you never have to play catch-up.

Imaging manufacturer Ricoh adopted a similar approach to listening when they decided to target a specific industry – the insurance sector. As well as listening to their customers online, the “Precision Marketing” program looked at what the customers of customers were saying too.

Using these insights, Ricoh’s marketing team were able to develop a more complete view of the insurance industry at multiple levels and craft their content marketing and social campaigns to meet the needs of all of their customers.

The opportunity to better understand your competitors
As well as understanding your customers, social media is a great place to see what competitors are doing. What are they talking about? Who are they talking to? What are they saying, and how are they saying it?

These kind of insights are easily available with a suitable social media listening tool. Because you can see virtually everything that happens across the major platforms – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc – it is relatively easy to see how your competitors are responding to trends and developments within your market sector.

Armed with this insight, it becomes easier to define a strategy that builds on the successes of your competitors and avoids the mistakes they make. This kind of research also helps to ensure your campaigns are unique.

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The opportunity to fine-tune your campaigns
A great campaign is built on a full understanding of your product, your audience, and the wider marketplace. If your campaigns neglect any of these factors, the outcomes will always be less than optimal.

Using social media listening, you can narrow and broaden the focus of your understanding. Targeting communications and deals at specific individuals is highly effective and is the main concern of most social media marketers.

However, listening to chatter helps you build more of the amalgam identities which will form your buyer personas – the key to your content marketing efforts. Trying to build a persona based on an actual individual is likely to result in an unbalanced campaign because it is so finely-tuned that it only speaks to that single person.

Price Waterhouse Cooper details the story of how an insurance company used social media listening to understand how customers viewed certain brand attributes like “lifetime benefits” and “guaranteed income.” Those attributes that were found to be particularly resonant became part of future marketing strategy. The firm also used their listening exercises to identify brand attributes that were not associated with their competitors, offering additional targeting opportunities.

Cutting through the junk
Even in a B2B industry, social chatter can be just a lot of noise. Extracting value from social platforms means being able to cut through the junk to find the gold. A social media listening tool is vital to helping you sift through data and assemble loosely related information to create new insights.

Without paying attention to industry chatter, you miss out on new and emerging opportunities to strengthen your brand and its offerings.

Don’t miss your chance to maximize listening opportunities – get in touch with Falcon.io today and let us show you how our Listen tool can be used to gain a full understanding of your customers and your industry.

Creating a social listening strategy.

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