10 Tips for Building a Social Listening Strategy

Three team members looking at a social listening dashboard

Building a social listening strategy? Here’s how to accomplish it with tips ensuring your brand keeps a pulse on what customers say and how they feel.

Of the roughly 8 billion people in the world, more than 53% (4.26 billion people) use social media. In the United States, the Pew Research Center found that percentage jumps to 72%, and many frequent their preferred apps and platforms on a daily basis, making social media a dominant force in consumers’ lives.

The world is more connected than ever before, and this presents a huge opportunity for businesses to learn about customers and their experiences with brands in their own words, thanks to a form of customer listening known as social listening. Through social listening, companies can find out what customers have to say about their brand, products, and services — as well as how they feel about competitors and the industry overall. 

Until the advent and rise of social networks, never before could companies tap such a massive and publicly available source of consumer insights to listen to and analyze.

Thanks to social media, however, brands can unlock customer experience data, measure customer sentiment and customer loyalty, monitor overall brand reputation, and, ultimately, better understand and meet customer needs through the power of social listening. 

What Is Social Listening?

Every minute of every day, countless conversations take place across popular social media platform such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit. Social listening is a process that businesses use to listen in to brand, product, service, industry, and competitor mentions in real time via public channels to understand what customers are saying and how they feel.

This form of monitoring helps brands evaluate customer perceptions or customer sentiment, which in turn can be used to contribute to a broader understanding of a company’s customer experience and brand reputation. 

How to Do Social Listening

Social listening involves using the following two-step process to listen in to what customers are saying about your company and then make sense of what that means for your brand’s reputation and customer experience. 

#1: Monitor public social media channels for mentions of your company, products, services, competitors, and industry

Prioritize channels where your brand and industry are most likely to be discussed based on your target audience. For instance, older audiences tend to use channels like Facebook, while younger audiences are more likely to spend their time on platforms like Twitter and Instagram. B2B audiences are more likely to use channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, while LinkedIn may not be as important for B2C brands. 

#2: Evaluate your brand’s performance across social media

Leverage technology, such as social feedback tools and AI-powered text analytics and speech analytics, to get a snapshot of your company’s online ratings and reviews all in one place and an instant analysis of the customer sentiment of your brand’s mentions. These insights can be used to assess the customer experience you offer and your brand’s reputation. 

10 Essential Tips to Build a Solid Social Listening Strategy

Are you ready to put together a comprehensive and effective social listening strategy for your business? Here are several key steps you’ll want to take as you create, launch, and optimize your social listening strategy.

#1. State your purpose for conducting social listening

What results do you hope to achieve through your social listening program? Common social listening use cases include: 

  • Detecting emerging trends in real time
  • Measuring brand reputation
  • Tracking the keywords and phrases customers associate with a given brand 
  • Conducting a competitive analysis
  • Uncovering customer experience insights in the moment

#2. Identify the social media channels you plan to monitor

Narrow your list to include only the channels that are relevant to your target audience and industry — that is, where your customers are most active — and that can be publicly monitored. 

#3. Choose the right software

Social listening at scale requires investing in the right technology, including social listening tools that offer real-time alerts, analysis, and insights, saving your team countless hours on manual monitoring tasks across channels. Text analytics for social media is a solution that’s invaluable for making sense of unstructured data from social channels, such as comments, mentions, and messages, and generating reports that distill this data into top topics, emerging trends, and customer sentiment analysis. 

#4. Determine the keywords, phrases, and hashtags you plan to monitor

Create a list of the relevant keywords, hashtags, and phrases that customers use when discussing your brand, products, services, and industry on social media channels. This may include specific product or brand names as well as related terminology. Add this list of words to the social listening technology solutions you’re using, so these systems can begin automatically monitoring these important topics. 

Be sure to continue to update this list as you roll out new products and services and your business evolves over time. 

#5. Monitor and analyze your social listening metrics

Depending on the social media listening technology you select, your tool will provide metrics, such as your brand’s average online ratings and customer sentiment score. You’ll also want to pay attention to the overall volume of brand mentions over time. Ideally these measures will trend in a positive direction, in line with your company’s efforts to improve the customer experience

#6. Respond to customer comments, mentions, messages, and reviews

In order to be effective, a social listening strategy must be designed not only to monitor what’s being said, but also to drive action to respond to and engage with customers. That includes addressing customer questions, concerns, and complaints, and thanking customers for their positive feedback. Research indicates that most consumers expect brands to respond to negative feedback within a week and that the right response can change how consumers feel about a given business. 

#7. Pair your social listening data and insights with other customer listening signals

The insights brands are able to glean via social listening are complementary to customer signals from other popular channels, such as contact center conversations (calls, chats, emails, etc.), website and app interactions, and customer feedback surveys. Combined, these customer signals from across channels reveal the full picture of the customer experience. 

#8. Integrate your social listening insights into your broader strategy

Use the learnings your company gains from social listening to inform your broader company strategy across digital channels, marketing, product development, customer service, operations, and more. These types of data-driven decisions will improve the customer experience by addressing points of friction in the customer journey.

#9. Measure, iterate, and optimize

Track the progress of key performance indicators (KPIs), such as your brand’s average social media ratings, sentiment scores, and share of voice within the broader industry, over time. Democratize these findings across the broader organization to drive the right actions that deliver the optimum results.

#10. Remember to give your social listening strategy time

Keep in mind that building a social listening strategy takes time and a consistent effort to gain insights and boost performance.

Unlock the Benefits of Social Listening

Brands that lean into social listening stand to gain in a variety of ways — deepening customer understanding, strengthening customer relationships, and driving customer experience and brand reputation, all of which can fuel efforts around improving customer acquisitions, conversions, and retention.