Social Listening: Okay, What Is It I’m Supposed to Listen For?

When Jay Leno was first being considered by NBC for host of the Tonight Show, legend has it he literally hid in a closet so he could overhear executives weighing the positives and negatives of him vs. David Letterman. Leno intuitively knows the value of social listening.


Who wouldn’t be curious about what people, in honest and unguarded moments, are saying about you? Who hasn’t wanted to be a fly on the wall? Today, social listening makes these things possible for brands. It’s a power you don’t want to leave untapped. But what exactly should you be listening for across social and the Internet at large?


Someone praising you or a competitor:

You’re going to want to engage the rave to help amplify it if it’s about you. If it’s about a competitor, you want to know their strongest features.


Someone having trouble finding, getting, or using yours or a competitor’s product:

It reveals there’s a kink in the happy customer process, a frustration-maker you should fix if it’s yours and exploit if it’s a competitor’s.


Someone debating whether or not to get yours or a competitor’s product:

Don’t jump in to sell them! Offer to answer any remaining questions about your offering, and incentivize.


Someone having a general problem your product helps solve:

Often, people won’t mention brands, but will cry out about a pain point your product could help solve. You’re listening for people to rescue.


Mention of your brand or a competitor by an influencer:

Influencers aren’t just media & big bloggers, they’re also the people who engage most with you or in your area of expertise.


Someone trying to directly reach out to you or a competitor:

If they go to the trouble and you ignore them, you do crazy brand damage. If your competitor makes this crucial mistake, jump on it and offer help from YOUR brand.


Reaction to campaigns and branded content you’re running:

Don’t double-down on a campaign or content people find immensely ignorable.


A hot topic it makes sense for your brand to tap into/comment on:

But you better be careful. Many brands have been severely burned while attempting this.


Opportunities to step in and serve others:

NOBODY minds a brand inserting itself and bringing its power to a worthy cause.


Mentions of valued customers or partners:

You want to be their biggest public cheerleaders, so engage their stuff and share it.


Overall brand sentiment trends:

You shouldn’t wake up one day shocked by how many people don’t like you. It happens over time, so get ahead of the curve.


Location and activity cues:

Oh, you’re near our ice cream shop and complaining about the heat? Here’s a coupon and directions.


Research & development, crowd-sourced product and feature ideas:

Real-world users of our products see them differently and have different experiences with them than we do. We should probably pay attention.


Listen for top employment prospects in your field considering their options:

You can find them first and get the best people just because you were actively looking for them.


Listening is an ongoing, always-on affair. This can’t be for curiosity’s sake, be ready and able to act on what you hear. And if your social listening platform can’t keep up, YOU can’t keep up. We’re talking about a heavy lift of big data, filtering, multiple languages, the ability to establish meaning and intent, etc.


Oracle’s Reggie Bradford points out, “Social listening helps companies tune in to what customers are saying and respond in real time with messages that better reflect their here-and-now sentiments and interests.” Don’t stay tuned out.


@mikestiles @oraclesocial
Photo: David Ritter, freeimages.com


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