This unfortunate underutilized audience research tactic allows you to keep an eye on your competition, monitor the industry space, and identify voices in your industry.
The well-kept secret tool is social listening.
# Social listening is a @Fi_digitaldrum via @CMIContent that says audience research tactics are unfortunately underutilized. Click to Tweet Now, brands as a whole are doing more on social media: 43% of B2C . Content Marketers and 46% B2B content marketer planned to invest more in their organic and paid content distribution efforts this year. In the first quarter of 2021, marketers spent 60 % More on Facebook and Instagram ads compared to the same period in 2020.
There is a lot of data that exists, enough for any marketer to extract and analyze through social listening. However, social listening isn’t on the radar to the same extent as customer personality, web analytics, and keyword research. Only 8% brand in one 2020 survey by Socialbakers indicated that they used listening tools as research aids.
I go on social media every day, and I don’t see many people talking about it. Without the concept of social listening, many marketers might not be aware of all the potential purposes it could serve. They also may not have or don’t want to Invest in tools to practice social listening.
That’s why social listening can be a differentiating factor for your brand.
Table of Contents
What is social listening?
Social listening is an audience research method for monitoring social media channels, websites, and forums for mentions of a particular topic, topic, brand, competitors, product name, etc. product or user matching query strings.
Here is an example of a brief social listening search query:
Social listening is supported using tools like @Brandwatch, @FalconIO, #Socialbakers by @emplifi_io, often combined with manual research, @Fi_digitaldrum via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet But really, it’s not just about finding the words and phrases mentioned. You can bend and flex this tactic around different use cases to generate insights that help you produce results:
- Define industry influential people
- Conduct sentiment analysis
- Show off the success of your branded campaigns
Social listening helps you identify industry influencers, conduct sentiment analysis and successfully demonstrate your #content, @Fi_digitaldrum via @CMIContent said. Click to Tweet As a full-time practitioner, I am often asked to do social listening to provide constructive intelligence that marketers can then use to make more impact. campaign concept and content strategy .
Get to know your target audience better
The beauty of social listening is that it provides brands with a relatively quick route to finding the evidence behind the assumptions they might be making about their target audience.
Use a listening tool to collect certain relevant social content key word , parameters and criteria. You can use that information to compile snapshots of your customers – disclosure theme they’re interested in, what they’re talking about, and the type of content they share and interact with.
Similarly, you can also use this method to identify words and phrases that are not mentioned and avoid using them in new content.
You can also look through your data and evaluate factors such as:
- Texting topics
- Phrases and words most used by target customers
- Tons of voice
More importantly, it’s the kind of intelligence that can enable your marketing team to make more confident decisions about any new content they plan to create.
Identify emerging trends and key themes
The pace of change in what’s topical, what people are thinking and talking about, and developments in emerging markets is often too fast to handle. But this current information is invaluable to plan your content and even staying one step ahead of the competition by keeping the pulse of the audience in mind.
Stay up-to-date on emerging trends and key topics with #social listening, says @Fi_digitaldrum via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet That’s when society listens. You can take many approaches to your research. Here are two:
- Build your search over a recent period, using certain keywords and phrases.
- Target your search to get data on known voices and thought leaders in your industry.
You can use this social listening data to create a word cloud, presenting the findings in a more understandable format:
Reduce your ability to sound (and look) like your competitors
It’s not uncommon to see the market saturated with similar-looking competitors regardless of your industry. Brands also often describe their products and services in similar ways (think of areas like software and financial services, for example).
When there is not enough to distinguish brand, your audience may be confused or worse, ignore the brand’s content. Here are two ways social listening can fix that:
- Create word clouds for your brand and each of your competitors’ social activities. This visualization tool can help you see if (and where) you are too similar in your use of the language.
- Use social data from your competitors’ channels to benchmark and compare creative aspects like format style, language, messaging, images, etc.
Finally, this social listening analysis allows you to identify the “white space” in the market: “What Not What are our competitors talking about that we know our audience cares about? ” or “Can we cover that in our next article/white paper/webcast?”
Armed with this intelligence, your marketing team can build new content with the deliberate purpose of meeting the possibly unmet needs of your target audience and in the process, differentiating your brand from your competitors.
You can also use social listening to track, measure, and analyze competitor mentions, such as:
- Collect data on how often they appear in industry publications, media, and client events
- Perform voice analysis of your competitors and your organization
- Collect social data about customer feedback to your competitors. What delighted them? What disappointed them?
- Identify thought leaders, third-party partners, and influencers who are collaborating with your competitors.
All of these can provide incredible insights to inform you future content . For example, if you find that their social media polls aren’t attracting any engagement, you can choose to switch to polls on your channel. And, compared to creating more content to see works well it may be more cost-effective to use social listening to learn from competitors.
These are just three types of insights you can gain when implementing social listening as an audience research tactic. And while social listening can’t provide any solid guarantees about what’s going to work, it does give you more of a fighting chance when it comes to answering classic questions like “What is the target audience?” What do our targets want and need?” and “What are our competitors doing?”
I encourage you to invest in some serious social listening. Its 2021, and with the social media content goldmine out there, it’s time to take a more in-depth approach.
All tools are identified by the author. If you have a tool to recommend, feel free to add it in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute