7 Essential Social Listening Benefits Your Company Should Know About

Social media has forever changed the way consumers talk about products, services, and brands. Now, all a customer needs to do to share good or bad product experience with 10 to 10,000+ of their "friends" is hit the "post" button on a social media account.

While the power of social media is worrying to many companies, it’s not nearly as worrying as this simple fact — most consumers trust the product recommendations and reviews they receive from friends and/or other customers.

According to the Nielsen Global Survey of Trust in Advertising (2013), 84% of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations from friends while 68% trust the the product and/or service opinions they see posted online by other constumers.

Fortunately, there is a way for companies to evaluate online consumer conversations surrounding their products, services, and brands — with social listening.

What Is Social Listening?

Social listening is a digital engagement method that enables companies to "listen in" on customer conversations and feedback about their products and services on social media channels and online forums.

With social listening, companies can track online conversations based on specific keywords and phrases related to their products, services, and brand(s) — enabling them to get direct consumer feedback/insight.

What Are the Benefits of Social Listening?

Today, not enough companies listen to the feedback customers share online about their products and services. And that can quickly lead to a decline in customer retention, brand reputation, and even sales.

Because when companies don’t make the effort to understand their customers’ needs by listening to them — customers switch to companies that do.

With social listening, companies can not only avoid such mistakes, they can also improve their brand reputations, product/service quality, and bottom lines.

Here are 7 key social listening benefits that every company should know about:

#1 Understand What People Really Think About Your Brand

Tracking all mentions of your company online is an effective way to get direct insight into what everyone thinks about your brand — from loyal customers and prospects all the way to "brand enemies."

By looking closely at the words people commonly use to describe your brand (e.g. high-quality, reliable, lousy, etc.) you can get a general idea of what people really think about your brand— which can help you determine whether it’s heading in the right or wrong direction.

#2 Deliver Improved Customer Service

The biggest customer service mistake you can commit in today’s digital marketplace is not responding to bad product/service feedback and improvement recommendations.

Not responding to customer complaints on social media can be interpreted as "ignoring" customers in front of a social audience that can range from a few thousand to millions. And if a bad customer experience goes "viral," it can seriously damage your brand’s reputation.

By "listening in" to online product/service feedback on social media channels and forums, you can quickly acknowledge negative opinions and resolve any issues — turning bad customer experiences into good customer service results.

#3 Improve Your Brand’s Reputation

All it takes is one bad customer experience, blog post, or video going "viral" on social media to damage hurt your brand's image.

And if your company already has a reputation problem (e.g. unresponsive customer service, unreliable products, etc.), social media sharing can worsen it in a very short amount of time because customers are more likely to share bad brand experiences than good ones.

Social listening can help you determine whether your brand has reputation issues and uncover the reasons why it does — so you can understand what you need to fix in order to improve your brand perception.

#4 Turn Prospects Into Sales Leads

According to Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 66% of marketers generated leads and 51% experienced improved sales from social media engagement.

Howevever, companies that aren’t listening in to prospect conversations about their brands online are missing a huge opportunity to engage prospects and drive sales leads.

Social listening enables you search for conversations online through keywords related to your products/sevices so you can engage prospects and answer the questions that keep them from making the sale — enabling you to turn them into sales leads (and hopefully loyal customers).

#5 Deliver Improved Products and Services

Listening to online product/service feedback isn’t just about searching for good opinions and comments. It’s also about paying especially close attention to bad customer experiences too.

Because avoiding unfavorable opinions about your brand is the same as ignoring valuable product/service improvement advice that will help you satisfy existing customers and acquire new ones.

By acknowledging negative opinions about your products and services online, you can access a substantial amount of unfiltered, real world customer feedback — which can help you improve your existing offerings or innovate new ones.

#6 Gain Insight Into the Product/Service Problems Your Competitors Face

Social listening isn’t just good for providing insight into what people think about your brand, products, and services. It’s also a good tool for conducting competitive analysis, enabling you to learn more about consumer reactions to your competitors’ brands and products.

By listening to the complaints of your competitors’ customers, you can understand the weaknesses of their products and services — which can be exploited through marketing initiatives and product improvements targeting their unhappy customers.

#7 Improve Your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Content Marketing

Social listening can also play an important role in your company’s SEO and content marketing because it puts you right in the middle of customer conversations concerning your brand and its products/services.

By paying close attention to what customers are saying online can help you improve your SEO and content marketing efforts in the following ways:

  • SEO: You can identify new organic keywords to include in your content marketing articles, target more effective paid keywords on adwords, and modify product/service descriptions to be more SEO friendly.
  • Content Marketing: You can identify, create, and continually modify content for topics that generate customer interest as well as identify "influencers" to champion your brand online.

How Can Your Company Track Social Listening?

Social listening is crucial to business in today’s digital age. With consumers using social media daily to share their product/service experiences, it’s more important than ever for companies to listen to, understand, and engage their customers online.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to begin tracking social listening in your company — here are some popular ways to do it:

  • Use a dedicated social listening tool that tracks mentions of your brand online such as social mention, addict-o-matic, and topsy.
  • Use a social media management tool that lets you listen in on social media conversations in real time such as Hootsuite.
  • Work with a Digital Innovation Agency to develop a customized social listening dashboard.

With the right social listening tool and social media listening strategy in place, companies can answer "yes" to one of the toughest questions they face — "do you know what your customers are saying about you?"

Have you used social listening to improve your products and services? Share your experience with us by leaving a comment.