Any company knows that it's essential to build a solid reputation and following on its social media. It's ideal for your brand to become a household name as that's when you've attained a high brand awareness.

However, things aren't always so black and white. The last thing you want is to develop a reputation for all the wrong reasons -- bad service, scandals, and other issues can cause negative social media mentions.

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Due to what can suddenly become a rocky road, it's vital to continuously track your brand's social media channels and look out for any red flags. That's where social listening comes in.

Social listening, thus, is a two-part process, unlike social monitoring. Social monitoring merely does the former, keeping track of social media mentions and conversations. However, without the analysis and actionable responses, your brand cannot sufficiently meet the needs of its customers. Social listening finds root causes behind social conversations and implements long-term strategy changes.

By performing social listening, you can create the kind of content your followers actually want, come up with new ideas based on industry trends, improve your customer experience by interacting directly with customers, and continuously shift your customer strategy to fit the current need.

If you're still not convinced on the necessity of social listening, read the following list of reasons why it's so important.

4 Reasons to Start Using Social Listening

In general, it's important to come to these conclusions because it promotes a customer-centric mindset in your company. Rather than making assumptions about what your customers want or need, you should hear exactly what they're saying. It's common for people to publicly share their opinions -- whether they be about the political state of our nation or about the latest meme -- so it's no surprise they do the same about the brands they interact with.

1. Customers like when brands respond.

Customers want to feel heard on social media. According to research done by Sprout Social, 83% of respondents like when brands respond to questions, and 68% like when brands join conversations. Being responsive on social media clearly makes a difference; after all, 48% of customers make a purchase with a brand who is responsive to its customers and prospects on social media.

They want you to respond. But, it's more than that. It's about using social listening to thoughtfully craft responses that provide real value. Those are the kinds of responses that will elicit brand loyalty and increase customer retention rates.

2. You can keep track of your brand's growth.

Sometimes, brands face scandals or serious issues. Things happen, but even one incident can cause a wave of negativity to plague your social media. It's easy to ignore a couple rude comments here and there, but it's troublesome if the negative ones seem to outweigh the positive.

This is a great time to use social listening. By analyzing the recent incident, you can do some research and see if the rise in negative comments has actually led to a decrease in followers, sales, or whatever metric you choose to investigate. Then, you can determine whether serious measures need to be taken in response, or whether it's simply a phase with no lasting effects.

3. You can discover new opportunities.

Often, your customers do the work for you. When many customers start complaining about the same problem -- or rooting for the same win -- it's a sign that that's something to take note of and run with. Rather than simply monitoring these changes, you can use social listening to find ways to innovate on the changes.

For instance, maybe you work for a fitness center. Your customers have been sharing how frustrated they are about fitness classes filling up so quickly. There is an opportunity there for you to consider creating more classes, opening up more spots in each class -- which may require moving to larger spaces -- or putting a limit on how many classes any one individual can sign up for in a week. Any of these options may have pros and cons, but testing out different methods can relay important results and, hopefully, satisfy more of your customers.

4. You can increase customer acquisition.

Social media holds many opportunities for broadening your reach to prospects. After all, your followers aren't just your loyal customers; they're also simply people who enjoy your content or who fell upon your social media. These are the kinds of people who you should be targeting.

Inbound marketing highlights the importance of providing interesting, useful content that provides value to people. This initially attracts them to your brand and avoids you being forced to bombard them with distracting ads. It's much easier to convert your content viewers and followers into leads and, eventually, customers, than it is to approach random strangers and hope they'll be interested in your products or services.

Using social listening, you can discover the kinds of content that those who follow and mention you enjoy by viewing their posts, shares, hashtags, and photos. Then, you can accordingly create relevant content that matches their taste and will ultimately draw them into your brand.

Luckily, there are several tools available online to help you analyze the results of your social listening.

3 Social Listening Tools to Use

1. Sprout Social

Sprout Social offers a social media management software to offer solutions that will ultimately improve your social media interactions with customers and prospects. With the help of the Sprout Platform, you can access in-depth data analytics to inform strategic decisions, streamline and scale your engagement efforts, publish content and campaigns, and, most importantly, uncover trends and insights through social listening to drive strategic changes.

Sprout Social offers Twitter Listener dashboards and reports to analyze your Twitter presence. In addition, the platform uses real-time brand monitoring to track direct messages and brand-specific keywords. It also offers advanced social listening to help you notice emerging trends and influencers. The platform ultimately offers priceless insights that can help you consistently track and improve your social strategy.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite also offers a social monitoring and listening platform. The social media marketing and management dashboard helps you build and grow relationships with your social media followers. Hootsuite allows you to view all your messages, comments, and brand mentions across several social channels in one concise dashboard from which you can respond to them all.

You can also track influencers and leads into lists that can be imported and shared with others in your company. You can use Hootsuite's Analytics and reports to track what's being discussed about your brand, competitors, and your industry and improve your campaigns accordingly. Hootsuite offers three different plans so you can find the perfect solutions and strategies to fit your business's needs.

3. HubSpot

HubSpot offers a social media product to help you prioritize your social interactions and connect with all the right people. All on one tool, you can build marketing campaigns, share content like blog posts and landing pages, automatically share content to various social channels, and discover the best times to post.

You can also monitor social interactions with contacts in your database, create custom keyword monitoring streams, and trigger email alerts so your sales team know when your prospects mention you. You can even compare performance across your social channels and keep track of the number of visits and leads you receive. Our platform offers more than just social listening; it offers you an all-inclusive inbound marketing software that benefits your entire team and helps you integrate social as an integral part of the company.

Social media can indicate growing and shifting customer trends. If you don't pay attention and roll with the punches, your brand will falter among the brands that do. Your customers want a brand that is fresh and interactive and provides them with products, services, support, and content that are genuinely useful and engaging.

Next, read this post on great customer service tweets from real brands.

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Originally published Aug 20, 2018 8:00:00 AM, updated August 20 2018

Topics:

Social Media Customer Service