Social Listening on Social Media

Social Listening on Social Media - #TwitterSmarter chat with Lucy Rendler-Kaplan - November 14, 2019

Social media management is more than posting status updates, sharing blog posts and event booth pictures, and scheduling evergreen content. Social media management is so much about being in the moment, engaging with others, listening, and helping the community grow.

So we decided to dedicate an entire chat about just that—listening.

We invited Lucy Rendler-Kaplan. She’s the founder of Arkay Marketing, a PR and social media marketing agency that caters to small business, mostly in the lifestyle, food, and health industries. She’s also written an article about the benefits of social listening.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Lucy Rendler-Kaplan
Topic: Social Listening on Social Media
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is social listening?

To put it simply, social listening is listening to your audience. It means you’re keeping a constant eye on your notifications, mentions, and any conversations that revolve around your brand. But it’s more than that too…

As our friends from OnePitch mentioned, you’re not only listening to what they say about you, but also for what problems they have. This is an excellent way to generate content ideas and restructure your strategy based on community responses.

Remember, the goal is not just to show your audience that you’re listening, but also to use that information to improve your service. And as Gabriela pointed out, you can listen across various social media channels. This will give you a broader range of feedback to compare and analyze.

Q2: Is there a best social media channel for listening?

The best channel for listening to your audience’s preferences is the channel they’re actually on. It’s important to know which platform your community most uses and be on it yourself.

For example, Reagan pointed out that not everyone’s on Facebook. And it varies based not only on age group but also the location of your audience.

However, you’re lucky if your audience prefers Twitter over the others. With hashtags, advanced search, lists, and column-based monitoring that most social media management tools offer, Twitter has become the easiest to track conversations.

Speaking of channels other than Twitter, our community members said LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and review sites are good for listening too.

Q3: Why is it important to listen on Twitter?

If you’re on Twitter, you have to listen. You learn many things that way—what your audience expects from you, what your competitors are doing, who the influencers are in your industry, and more. It also greatly helps improve your customer service and response rates.

As our friends from DigitalDiary pointed out, listening is a good way to ask yourself some serious branding questions. It helps you analyze what’s working and what’s not. You get to engage with your competitors on a public forum and observe their tactics—all while being professional.

Here’re a few other reasons to listen, as shared by our chat members:

  • Understand your audience’s sentiments at various stages.
  • Ask questions and run polls of the larger community.
  • Keep an eye on how your brand is growing and evolving.
  • Learn the new trends in your industry and identify ways for you to improve.

Q4: What should you listen for on Twitter?

Building on the previous question, there’re so many conversations flying around on Twitter that it can get overwhelming at times.

As our guest suggested, ask yourself: What does your community need that they haven’t got already? This can help you narrow down your searches and find more specific feedback you can work with.

Here are some more things to watch out for:

  • Announcements from brands you use. Do they have an upcoming update that might affect your work schedule? If so, should you inform your community?
  • Complaints from your customers. Frustrated users are ever so common on Twitter, and you can take it as feedback and find ways to overcome it.
  • Trending conversations on Twitter. Some (not all) of these trends will be relevant for your brand and industry. Listen to see if you can create content around the trend.
  • Responses to your content. Do people like that latest blog post you shared? Observe engagements and reactions so you can identify which types of content resonates with your audience the most and create more of that.
  • Reactions to competitor content. Analyzing how people respond to competitor campaigns can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t on Twitter.

Q5: Share some tips on how to be a good listener on social media

First, don’t prioritize selling. Listening is about being aware of conversations, and not shoving your solution at people every chance you get. As our guest said, you could be an active listener—someone who participates in a lot of chats, offers suggestions, shares helpful links, and answers community questions. Or you could be a passive listener who observes and asks questions more than they say. Either way, the key is to listen.

Kathy gave us a few more great tips:

Make sure you know what you’re talking about. A big part of social media management is about mastering the product or the nuances of the service you’re offering. That helps you be a better listener and a good responder.

Our community members shared their tips too:

  • Try and turn a conversation into opportunities for your community to engage on. For example, when someone shares an article or an opinion, ask a question that triggers more conversations and thoughts.
  • Create and maintain lists of your competitors, influencers, and other accounts relevant to your business. Lists make listening easy.
  • Regularly analyze the most common keywords and hashtags your audience uses. That way, you can be sure you’re speaking their language.
  • Consider using a social media management tool to simplify scheduling, monitoring, and analysis. Madalyn recommended Hootsuite and Brand24.
  • Create alerts for important topics. These can be emails, push notifications, desktop alerts, or in-app notifications.
  • Acknowledge mentions. Good or bad, everyone who tweets at you deserves to know that you’ve seen and heard their message. That’s basic courtesy. Although—don’t feed hate speech, spam comments, or trolls. That’s unhealthy for your brand.
  • Run polls often to assess the pulse of your audience.
  • Check your audience distribution on Twitter Analytics and localize your posting times, messages, and language accordingly.
  • Search for your brand name and follow conversations that mention you. Some people use your name but won’t tag you. Search for your exact name in quotation marks to catch those mentions.
  • Respond thoughtfully. Think through your replies before you post them. Make sure you’ve read and understood the other person’s question or concern.
  • Be alert. Speed is essential on Twitter. Responding to questions and comments quickly shows that you’re always on top of your game.
  • Have fun. Twitter can become painful if you let it overwhelm and burn you out. Be serious in your work, but also enjoy the process.

Q6: What do you learn by listening on social media?

The top things you’ll learn when you listen purposefully are,

  • Audience’s sentiment
  • Most active social media channels
  • Customers’ pain points
  • Whose opinions matter most to your target audience

But you also learn a lot more—

  • Ways to grow your brand
  • What content you should post more of
  • What your audience needs versus wants
  • How your audience engages with you and your competitors
  • Ways to improve your content style, delivery, frequency
  • New target audiences that resonate with your work
  • Which of your campaigns or content is performing well
  • How to be part of a community and grow with it
  • How to tailor your messages to your audience

Q7: How do you incorporate those lessons into your Twitter strategy?

The best and easiest way to incorporate your lessons is to focus on creating content that answers your community’s questions and concerns. Like our guest said, that content could be in any format—video, how-to guides, animated GIFs, infographics, live video training, or anything else that works.

As Dr. Donald agreed, it’s also helpful to time your content, not just at a specific time of the day, but also to a specific time during the year. For instance, if you know a lot of people are struggling to learn and understand a new feature of a popular product, share a comprehensive how-to guide. That’s relevant and timely.

Just remember, if you’re not incorporating your lessons from listening, you’re only sharing stuff you think your audience wants. You don’t want to live in that bubble.

Q8: What social listening tools do you use?

For listening on Twitter, it’s pretty good by itself. That’s why our guest doesn’t use any other tools.

However, our community members use quite a variety of tools for various purposes.

SL Thomas, for instance, uses Hootsuite to filter relevant hashtags and keywords. Having a proper filter makes it so much easier to listen to the most relevant content.

Here’re some other tools for you to consider:

  • TweetDeck
  • Buzz Sumo
  • Sprout Social
  • Meltwater
  • Talkwalker
  • Iconohash
  • SocialOomph
  • Tweet Binder

Well, folks. That’s all I have for this week’s summary. Thanks for reading, and as always if you’re interested in reading more great ideas from our chat with Lucy, check out this Twitter Moment Joana put together.

Feel free to join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for the next #TwitterSmarter chat. We’re all nice and it’s super fun. And fast.

About me, Narmadhaa:

I’m a writer of all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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