How to Use Social Media Listening for Small Business?

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Businesses have falsely adopted social media for the sole purpose of promotion and it’s gone on for far too long. Yes, it’s normal to post links, hype up new releases and run marketing campaigns, but that’s limiting.

 If you’re on social media, then the bigger task ahead of you is to listen. Which brings us to…

What is social media listening?

Social media listening harnesses the inherent power of social interactions online through analysis to give brands a fuller picture into their position on the market and how customers perceive them.

 We’re connected now more than ever in the history of humankind and people love to talk. Social media listening goes beyond hearing what’s been said to you and explores what’s been said about you, and the latter’s arguably the more important conversation of the two. 

Social media listening vs monitoring

Because social media listening is rather new as a process, it’s fairly common to mistake it for the act of social monitoring. We’ve touched on the idea of different conversations happening online and social monitoring would be staying rooted to your social media pages. It’s about the direct interaction with your audience. Are you being retweeted and shared? Are you being messaged and tagged? You stay on the frontline of your online presence and handle the minute details.  

 Social listening explores the why – why is your social engagement currently as it is? Why are you being shared (or not shared)? It’s gaining a deeper insight into both direct interactions and bigger conversations happening online as a way to change your course of action in the long run. Through social media listening, you’re a few steps ahead in tailoring your campaigns, planning product launches and talking to your customers. 

Why is social media listening important? [link to long article on listening]

Small businesses are all the more pressed to be in good relations with their target customers or else they risk losing their core audience. No return sales means going bankrupt. Big international names have the luxury of not being approachable or personable

 Every word you say has to be calculated for maximum impact and pass through the filter of social media listening. You can discover a lot of potential applications.

 Most important of all is – have honest conversations with your customers by truly listening. 

The best social media listening tools in 2020

The market overruns with platforms and you will find different levels of specialization:

  •  Sprout Social – a comprehensive experience with powerful adaptable filters, templates and alerts
  • ReviewTrackers – access to content from 50+ review sites
  • Reddit Keyword Monitor – the one forum you can’t afford to not monitor
  • Mentionlytics – broad overview of multiple platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs and news sites.

How to use social media listening for small business?

It’s a common misconception that social media listening is something meant for companies worth millions and have infinite resources. 

I’d argue against this, because small businesses (those close to their audience) have the most to gain and there are a lot of strategies to embrace

Identify customer issues and boost satisfaction

Not paying attention to online chatter surrounding your brand is akin to walking into traffic with a blindfold on. Not just one brand has been oblivious about their online reputation and suffered for it. Learn the lessons of your dissatisfied customers and improve customer care.

 Cultivating a reputation as a business that not only listens to its audience, but solves problems, is a serious asset in your favor. Through social listening, you identify particular patterns in the type of complaints you receive and resolve the issue on a bigger scale.  

Manage crises in a timely manner

Social listening particularly comes to the rescue, when you’ve walked into hot water. Perhaps you have used the wrong hashtag (never forget the DiGiorno Pizza #WhyIStayed fiasco) or have shared a post that’s problematic, dividing or misinformed. The Internet’s tolerance for social faux pas has reached an all-time low and online users rally around the battle cry of ‘Do Better’.

 Social listening is a direct response to this call for responsibility. You have a means to manage a PR disaster in its early stages and actually do better. Apology tweets only go so far. This is all the more important for smaller businesses, which are inherently more vulnerable to controversy. 

Discover trends and keep an eye to competition

Data is the single most important resource you should strive towards today.

 Whoever has the data has the power, and whoever understands the data wins the race every time. Smaller businesses need not only comply with customer demands to evolve their product, but also compete with giant brands that own most of the market.

 Social listening shortens the distance as you subscribe to industry topics relevant to your business, follow direct competition and discover useful hashtags. Insights from here are meant to be the next step in developing your marketing strategy.  

Find loyal customers and brand ambassadors

As a small business, you’re unlikely to have the budget for industry influencers or personalities to drive sales numbers. That’s why you turn to the people who help you stay afloat in the first place – your customers.

Every brand has its die-hard fans and through social listening, you identify these individuals. A gesture as small as sending a small gift to passionate, vocal customers can have a positive outcome for you. There’s no bigger joy than recognition, and in this Zeitgeist of crowdsourcing and funding, it’s a solid strategy to organically grow sales through partnerships with brand ambassadors.

Cherish those who mean you well.  

Generate more leads through optimized business processes

Social media listening upgrades every single business process.

Find the hashtags that show your posts to a bigger audience? Check.

Target your content better? Yes, of course.

Made the step to develop and introduce a new product? Social listening delivers insights into the product-market fit, answering the question – will it sink or will it swim.