Let us begin with the definition, as described by SproutSocial: social listening is the process of tracking conversations around specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries, and leveraging the insights to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences.
A question that typically follows is: ‘why is social listening an important aspect of a social media plan?’ Social listening equals knowledge. Knowledge around your industry, audience, competitors and just content in general!
Here at Solaris Health, we use social listening to help our clients find the story in the data. This social listening and audience intelligence platform helps bring the digital audience to a single place. More specifically:
So how do we create a social listening strategy? Our six steps:
1. Clarify goals – e.g., is it to create content that is more relevant to the audience’s interests?
2. Determine focus channels – A good social listening platform will monitor a broad list, but it is important to identify the top (say three) channels where the audience lives and where they interact with content. There is no need to feel pressured to focus on a channel that is not a fit for the brand just because it’s getting a lot of attention
3. Review output – by using a pool of keywords (an integral part of the whole search) and an agreed period, we analyse the number of engagements and impressions within the category, as well as the level of emotion and sentiment conveyed in conversation
4. Define key learning from output – what can we derive from the social listening report? E.g.:
a. What does the audience care about and how they are feeling?
b. What are the trends in the conversations happening around the products, service, and industry?
c. What are the keywords people are likely to use when talking about the products or topics related to the industry?
5. Develop a plan for user engagement - be sure to avoid grasping at straws in terms of what people are talking about just for the sake of creating engagement. This is too forced! But rather monitor specific keywords week by week across the target audience, and use these in comments/conversation for a more genuine feel
6. Constantly review content strategy and apply new learning – social media content evolves by the hour, so we need to work to find topics the audience cares about. Social listening can reveal new questions, concerns, and interests your audience has, therefore capitalise on these moments
Social media has created its fair share of challenges for brands, but equally is an area ripe with opportunities — that is if you know how to look for them. With the right tools and a strong social listening strategy, you can start recognising and acting on opportunities you would not have been aware of otherwise.