The art of conversation lies in listening. Conversations are a two-way street and have a balance between listening and talking. Marketing to consumers is akin to a conversation and brands should treat it as such.

If brands do neglect to listen to their audience, they will not be able to effectively connect with, help or influence them. More often than not, brands are guessing, making tactical or strategic moves and underestimating the power of listening to their audience. This is where social listening comes in.

What is Social Listening?

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Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations for mentions and conversations related to your brand, and analysing these findings for insights to act on those opportunities. It is a crucial component of audience research.

Social listening looks beyond your brands metrics and numbers to consider the reason and moods behind the data. Social listening finds the spark behind social conversations and implements long-term strategy or directional changes.

Brands primarily use social listening as a tool to identify consumer pain points and to provide a direct solution to their problems, questions and comments. It is also used to gather feedback that could help their brand, product or service stand out in their industry.

This also allows your brand to discover new opportunities, while allowing your audience to do the brainstorming for you. When you notice that your audience has started complaining about the same thing, it is a sign that your brand needs to address it. Social listening allows your brand to innovate solutions or address the problem.

However, it is important to note that social listening does not provide insight into the direct impact of your brand’s marketing strategies.

How it Works

Social listening allows brands to prioritise and evaluate feedback from their consumers. This feedback can then be used to create more compelling and targeted products, services or marketing strategies and tactics.

An example of this is Ben and Jerry’s. Through engaging social listening in their audience research, they looked at mentions around their products on sites like Twitter and Instagram and noticed there was an increase during rainy weather that forced people indoors.

By analysing two data sources such as weather and social behaviour, they found that when rain forced people to stay indoors to watch films, TV, or Netflix, they wanted a pint of ice cream to go with it.

This opened up a whole new area for Ben and Jerry’s to target. Now looking at forecasts, for rainy as well as hot weather, they adjust their marketing plans accordingly.

They even went a step further and created a flavour just for this purpose: Netflix & Chill’d (Source: Ben and Jerry’s).

Source: Ben & Jerry’s

After uncovering data and understanding the sentiment behind it, your brand should also understand how your audience communicates. This means taking notes of what keywords they are using and what conversations they are having. Your brand should then repurpose these keywords in your own messages, allowing you to relate to and speak the same language as your consumers. Use this language not only on your social media platforms, but also on your website and any other content you put out.

According to Sprout Social, 83% of those surveyed liked when brands responded to their questions or when brands joined in on conversations. This shows that being responsive on social media is crucial, since 48% of customers made purchases with brands who were responsive to their customers on social media.

Social listening allows your brand to decide what conversations are worth engaging in and use it to formulate thoughtful and insightful answers that provide value to the conversation. These are the kind of responses that encourage brand loyalty and increase consumer retention rates.

It is not only important that your brand responds, but that your brand responds in the right way. Social listening can help your brand identify if and when it is appropriate to enter the conversation.

Why Does it Matter?

As digital platforms gain traction, there are now numerous ways for consumers to share their experiences and feedback about your brand, whether they choose to reach out directly or do so anonymously.

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Social media has now created many opportunities for your brand to broaden your reach to your target audience and directly engage with them. Social listening allows your brand to discover the kinds of content that your target audience consumes by analysing their online habits. With this information, your brand can create relevant content that matches their tastes and will ultimately attract them to your brand.

Inbound marketing which is a method that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them, highlights the importance of providing interesting, useful content that provides value to people. Creating personalised and compelling content is the key for converting your audience to loyal consumers and advocates for your brand.

Make Listening a Priority

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By finding the right tools and learning how to analyse the data you gather from your target audience, social listening can elevate your brand in the eyes of your consumers and build a stronger connection between your brand and your consumers.


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