By Caitlin Brennan

May 26th, 2017

In every iconic war movie, the generals gather around a big map to plot their moves. Brilliant tacticians shift miniature aircraft carriers, tank divisions or spaceships around the terrain in anticipation of victory on the battlefield. In social media, the battlefield is not an area that can be mapped; it is a zeitgeist, a feeling, a trend. You can only plot your next move by using your (virtual) ears. Social listening is how you can discover your surroundings before releasing your content to the world and gauge the reaction after making your move. This is how it’s done. Take a seat, Colonel.

Each of the major social platforms offer some tools to assist with social media tracking, but they tend to be quite basic. You will also find that gaining insight into sentiment across several platforms simultaneously is a momentous task. You need a centralized platform that is capable of unifying insights across social platforms to obtain maximum available insights. Such a tool will also help coordinate and execute responses while maintaining complete control of your social media channels.

You should use a listening tool through each stage of a campaign. To begin, you can tune-into relevant conversations in your industry and at the end of a campaign you can monitor analytics to prove your ROI.

Create a social media strategy around listening:
Before you can start social listening, you need to determine what you’re listening for, otherwise you’re going to end up with a whole lot of conversation and very few insights. Consider the insights you’re trying to gain from social listening. If you have the benefit of using a social listening tool you can set multiple listening goals; if you are working with more basic dashboards start off with a few goals.

To define your social listening goals look to your company’s goals. Are you trying to get your product into new markets? You could use social listening for insights into the traits and needs of that new market, including demand. Did you just launch a new product and want to gauge sentiment before ordering another shipping crate full of your product? Or, do you want to make sure your customer’s are happy with your brand and use that feedback to improve your offerings? Your business has many questions, with social listening, those questions can be answered.

What you should you listen to:
Whatever your goals, here are some basic terms you should include in queries to create your social listening strategy:

The name of your brand – Pretty self explanatory.

Your competitors – A little friendly competition never hurt. There are a wealth of insights to gain from the conversation around your competitors. First, the people engaging with your competition are clearly interested in their product, which means they’d also likely be interested in yours. You can also learn what issues people have with your competitor’s product which you can leverage for your advertising campaigns and product development. For example, if your competitors sell shoes that customers complain fall apart, you can advertise your shoes as the ‘most durable on the market, guaranteed!’

Keywords – You likely already have a list of keywords for SEO purposes. Keywords can funnel traffic to your website and help optimize your content. Tools like (Adwords) Keyword Planner offer only quantitative data about what goes into the search engine, not how the people who use it are thinking. When you add keywords to your social listening strategy you can dig into the sentiment behind the searches. So, you can learn not only what a customer is searching for, but why a customer is performing that search.

The names of your boss and your boss’s boss – Include anyone who is regularly publicly connected with your brand. Monitoring the names of the faces of your company will clue you into potential PR opportunities, awareness of thought leadership and any conversations around those in charge.

Influencers – We previously wrote about how social media influencers empower your content strategy. Social media influencers build trust, attract qualified leads and can increase your social media ROI. With all that power, you want to make sure you know what influencers are saying. Especially if an influencer speaks on behalf of your brand. You need to know how the influencer’s followers reacted so you can target them or make adjustments accordingly. If you create a listening project in Falcon, you can identify relevant influencers from Twitter, news and blogs.

social listening

Hashtags – Identifying and adding trending hashtags relevant to your industry and benchmarking these against your competition is a great way to understand if your are leveraging the most engaging types of content on social. Once you identify trending hashtags you can consider if you can bring value to the conservation and join in accordingly.

To put it another way…
When creating a list of the terms you want to listen to, it’s important to note that while you certainly know how to spell the name of your company everyone in the online community might not. You need to account for spelling variations, acronyms, shorthand, slang, punctuation etc.

For example, let’s say you own a restaurant franchise called Burger Bonanza and want to find out what people are saying about your new location in Brooklyn.

If you’re using Falcon, in the first box of the Query Builder, enter the name of your restaurant, “Burger Bonanza.” Since your restaurant includes two words add quotation marks to group the words together. Otherwise you’re going to get a lot of mentions about backyard BBQs and a show about cowboys.

In the second box, add context with terms such as, #food and Brooklyn. To exclude irrelevant mentions, you could add Concert in the third box for example.

Next, to narrow down the results to Instagram and Twitter, use the Sources drop-down menu. To further filter by media type, you can select the Media filter in the Filters drop-down menu and select is followed by image.

If you want to add supersonic abilities to your listening projects, check out how to use boolean searching to build far more precise queries that render more accurate results.

Time to get sentimental:
As referenced above, adding social listening to your keyword development can help identify the sentiment behind user searches. Listening to the market will help you understand whether people are satisfied or dissatisfied and highlight opportunities to join the conversation.

Sentiment analysis is vital for managing customer experiences, particularly those who are dissatisfied. By identifying disgruntled customers early, your business can reach out to them and try to address the situation. This not only avoids embarrassing complaints by customers on social platforms, but also gives your business a chance to demonstrate its outstanding service in a public forum.

In Falcon’s Listen, you can assess the emotional impact of your campaigns and find positive or negative conversations surrounding your company, competitors or other listening goals. When you create a listen project in Falcon you can gauge the sentiment of the mentions based on whether they are Positive, Neutral or Negative. You can also benchmark the sentiment of your brand against competitors to understand how your brand is perceived.

Listen to reason! Use social listening:
Don’t wait until you’re the last person to know what’s being said about your brand. It takes some thought to set up a social listening tool, but once you’re up and running social listening is invaluable. While basic tools are available they lack the organization and power of a social listening tool like Falcon. If you’re ready to learn everything you ever wanted to know and more about your brand setup a listening plan today.

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