Joining in on the conversation – how to engage with your audience via social listening

(Posted on 02/06/21)

Joining in on the conversation – how to engage with your audience via social listening

More people are turning to social media as a way of discovering what is being said about a brand, as well as becoming part of the conversation. A recent survey found that over 90% had actively engaged with or contributed to a brand’s social media in the past month. That may include just liking and sharing, but it also includes commenting directly on a business’s post, as well as posting about its products or services directly to their friends and followers.

With over 490 million active social media users recorded from January 2020 to January 2021, there is a very wide scope in which your brand could be being shared, talked about and advocated, without you even knowing what is being said at all.

Social listening is therefore vital to help a business understand what is being said, to whom, and why. This can provide the opportunity for multiple learnings and inspiration to help not only your social media strategy, but overall business strategy.


What to listen for

Of course, we all want to know about the good and the nice things which are said about our business online, so direct @ brand mentions are a good start. These are usually from people wanting to directly engage with the brand, such as if they’ve had a good service or enjoyed the product they’ve just bought, and want to give acknowledgement and thanks.

Sometimes though, with all the best intents and purposes, some people may spell your brand’s name incorrectly. That’s not always a bad thing, so long as you look for these kinds of posts too. This is so none of your follower accolade posts are lost, giving you a broader picture of what good things are being said about your business online.

However, it especially pays to know what bad things are being said about your business. By being aware of and addressing the issue in public, social media posts can help to curb any negative sentiment and comments about your business. This can not only save you from losing existing customers, but also potential customers who will not necessarily go looking for another competitor who seems to care more, just because someone complained about your business on social.


Who else to listen to

Social listening doesn’t just involve knowing what is being said about your business, but also considers the wider industry and world around you. Social listening can be used to effectively ‘peek over the fence’ at your competitors, to see what they are doing, and what their followers have to say about it. This can be ideal for gaining inspiration and for benchmarking your business in comparison on social.

Key trends can be identified by spikes in brand mentions or specific hashtags, giving an insight into what is popular and what’s not, to help adapt your social media posting strategy to join in on the conversation.

When M&S began legal accusations that Aldi had copied its Colin the Caterpillar cake with a cheaper imitation called Clyde, it sparked plenty of cheeky responses from the budget retailer, which quickly became a #FreeCuthbert campaign on social media. Fans, influencers, brands and businesses alike all jumped on the bandwagon, sharing humorous posts in either support or obstruction of Cuthbert, including the RSPB showing a picture of a free ‘gown up’ Cuthbert - as a beautiful butterfly! Regardless of the court’s final copyright decision, the campaign will not have dealt a sales blow for either retailer.

Engaging with other such trending hashtags and making it relevant and fun for your brand, is an ideal way to widen your audience exposure and gain new followers in the process.


How to listen

Most social media platforms have their own forms of analytics for social listening, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Facebook’s page analytics, however, will soon cease to be.

There are numerous social media listening tools available which easily collates the social listening for all business profiles and channels in one place, to identify insights and trends, without the time-consuming need for individually trawling each social platform’s analytics. Many of these tools we have or continue to use for a wide variety of clients.

Social listening tools and analytics can help provide an easy breakdown of sentiment, as well as identify spikes in brand mentions and conversations, determining whether something positive or negative is being said, and how often. This can then be addressed with reactive content if the sentiment is negative, helping to regain trust, and replicated if the sentiment is positive through planned content.


Speak to our team to see how we can take your social media to the next level.