Social listening is an effective tool for marketers to understand conversations surrounding a brand and competitors in a given vertical. Uncovering the attitude and feelings people have about your brand on social media, also known as social sentiment, allows you to make sense of online noise and keep track of key conversations, evaluate tone, and analyze data in an age with more than 4.65 billion social media users

If you aren’t taking advantage of social listening, you’re missing key bits of information that could impact your overall strategy, from organic to paid media. Defining how people feel about your brand is an integral piece of the brand strategy puzzle, one you shouldn’t underestimate. Here’s what you need to know. 

Metrics compared to sentiment

Metrics and sentiment are separate functions that complement each other by drawing unique insights. When it comes to social media, a high volume of followers may look impressive, but is not an effective way to judge if an idea or approach is resonating well. In other words, we should look beyond the numerical values to reveal what is really going on in the mind of your audience.

To listen or not to listen

Social listening is not only about tapping into conversations around your brand. It’s also keeping an eye out for market trends and what your competition does right, also known as a competitive analysis. You should use competitive analysis to set performance benchmarks and recognize how you can enhance your own business strategy. Social listening allows you to monitor competition while simultaneously addressing complaints, identifying pain points, managing crises, controlling online reputation, and improving your products and services. Essentially, you don’t always need to be the one talking – it’s ok to sit back and listen.

The nitty gritty

So, what exactly does a comprehensive social listening report entail? Most social listening platforms will gather reports on:

  • Share of Voice 
  • Positive and Negative Sentiment
  • Total Topic Volume
  • Engagements
  • Conversation Topics
  • Demographics
  • Topic Volume by Competitor  

Each category is combined to give us the big picture and key takeaways that define the perception of your brand. These data points help to inform insights and give you ground to stand on when deciding next steps for your marketing strategy.  

Case study: See for yourself

Chipotle uses social listening effectively by finding content creators that they know are part of their target audience. In this case, Chipotle posted user generated content on Instagram with a witty caption to capitalize on the audience’s tone. This is a result of monitoring the online pulse around their brand. To make social listening work for your business, take note from brands like Chipotle by latching on to trends, replying to direct mentions, searching for relevant keywords, and responding to questions. 

Conclusion: Drive it home

If you learn anything from this social listening rundown, let it be that defining the mood surrounding your brand can give you an edge when informing your overall strategy. It’s a portal into the minds of your target audience where you can gather interesting insights. Potential customers are talking whether you’re listening or not, so you may as well tune in.