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Social Listening: Better Understand Your Brand And Your Competitors

Published: August 3, 2021       Updated: July 14, 2024

5 min read

Social media strategy is changing. Yes, it’s still writing captions, creating graphics, running ads, and engaging with your community, but it’s also your secret weapon when it comes to customer and industry insights. Imagine being able to spot trends, issues, competitive pivots, and sample social conversations around specific interests with a few keywords. It’s possible with social listening.

What’s Social Listening?

Ever wish you could have a social team dedicated to monitoring the social landscape full-time on a large scale? At a very high level, that’s what social listening is, but in the details it’s so much more. A robust social listening tool will tap into conversations via keywords, brand handles, and hashtags to help you gain invaluable insights.

Social listening pulls real-time and historical posts from multiple platforms like Twitter, Reddit, etc., to help you understand what people are talking about and how they are talking about a particular topic. Listening allows your brand to join conversations seamlessly and authentically—it’s like being given the answer key to a test. Instead of guessing which topics you should be talking more about, social listening tells you. 

Industry insights are just the tip of the iceberg. You can also use social listening to monitor competitors and measure your brand health.

Social Listening for Competitive Monitoring

Staying informed and a step ahead of the competition is crucial for businesses to not only survive but to thrive. That’s why competitive social listening is an absolute must. 

Trying to figure out where your business overlaps with the competition? Social listening can answer that. Need to determine what your competition is offering that you aren’t? Social listening. What’s your competitor’s weakness, and how can you find opportunities to capitalize? With social listening, you can easily read social posts, articles and threads to learn and strategize.

Social listening also tracks spikes in competitive conversations, along with sentiment. Why is this important? This data helps you understand why your competition may be suddenly trending and if it’s for positive or negative reasons.

Let’s say that you’re a successful cybersecurity company and you learn internally that you’ve been breached. That's a real reputation management challenge, and it has to be managed on multiple fronts.

Your PR team is already hard at work putting together a statement, but what’s happening in the interim?

  • How many people are chatting about your brand on social and what’s being said?
  • Has the press somehow already gotten ahead of the story?
  • Is an employee talking about it on Twitter?
  • Do people perceive your brand less favorably now?

Social listening can answer and track all of the questions you're trying to answer while dealing with this critical moment.

Social Listening for Brand Health

Sometimes you need to get your own house in order before you can branch out into competitive listening and industry insights—that’s what brand health listening is for.

Like competitive and industry insights, brand health collects data on brand sentiment, conversations around keywords, and the top conversation contributors. Brand health provides you with the unique opportunity to gather feedback on what your product or service does well and what needs improvement. This information can be bundled and shared with executives for review and implementation. Actionable insights translate to improved customer satisfaction.

Brand health is excellent for detecting spikes and dips in conversation and sentiment. Monitoring for these types of activities helps identify potential brand crises and sudden interest in your brand as well. Social listening gives you the power to dive into conversations to understand what’s unfolding before they gain any traction so you can put together an action plan.

In the case of a positive spike in sentiment and conversation, social listening helps brands connect the dots by finding the source(s) behind it.  Now you’ll have not only the “why” this is happening, but you can answer the question of “who” started it all.

Imagine being able to get ahead of detractors by addressing them sooner before social cancel culture comes for your brand. On the other hand, you can also use social listening to find brand ambassadors and influencers on your influence continuum—important allies when it comes to protecting your brand’s health, and reward them for speaking highly of your brand.

Other Uses for Social Listening

Finding influencers can be time-consuming, but with social listening, you can quickly find people with high follower counts and high content engagement, then explore their profile to learn more about them. This process allows you to pull multiple prospects for influencer marketing campaigns in a short period of time.

Social listening is also great for culling thought leadership articles to share on your channels. Browse through specific keywords or sort by followers and engagement, and you’ll observe a pattern of what posts are garnering attention as well as who the thought leaders are. Hours of research can be reduced significantly, freeing up resources to take on other challenges.

You Need Social Listening

Brands that don’t stay on top of the industry landscape, their competitors, and what’s happening within their own four walls will find themselves falling behind. Social listening helps you avoid that. If you'd like to talk to someone about starting a listening program of your own, we are here to answer any questions. Let us know how we can help.
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