Four things social listening and data analytics have in common

Social listening provides valuable insights into your customers’ online behaviour.

Thanks to recent advances in technology, getting to know your customers' habits and activities is easier than ever. Where once companies relied on information extrapolated from surveys, digital data analysis now enables us to look at vast amounts of information in very close detail. Marketers can access digital reports in real-time that include information relating to user journeys, referring websites, time spent on page, peak visiting times and more.

What is social listening?

This term describes the tracking of the digital realm, including review websites and social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Businesses, government departments and charities use social listening to find out what people are saying about products, industries and relevant topics.

You can undertake social listening by keeping an eye on what's said about competitors and what the general sentiment is in relation to your industry, product or service.

Here are four ways that social listening acts in a similar way to data analytics in order to help you grow your business and improve your marketing strategy.

1. Fine-tune your marketing or social campaigns

It's not always easy to foresee how well a marketing campaign will work, or whether it will be a complete failure. Many businesses have found this out the hard way thanks to a sudden, forceful backlash from consumers, such as Woolworths’ Anzac Day ‘Fresh in our Memories’ campaign, which resulted in a frenzied social media response.

In the same way that you can use data such as shares, likes or comments to review the success of a marketing campaign on social media, ‘listening’ to social media comments enables marketers to uncover the feedback in real-time.

Social listening can also help you figure out what time of day the most mentions of your brand, product and industry occur across platforms. As a marketer, you can structure your content-sharing strategy around these times to intercept your audience and maximise online engagement.

2. Discover what products and services are working well

The raw data that comes from analytics can help you see which of your products are selling well.

Social listening takes this a step further by helping you to see what your customers are saying about your products. Adding social listening to your strategy will let you know details about what your customers like and what they're recommending to others.

Similarly, monitoring general discussions about subjects can help you determine gaps in the market. An example of this could be a Twitter trend demanding a new flavour of potato chips or a Quora question from someone querying software functionality.

3. Learn what types of content resonates well

Data analytics tells us that people love to share what makes them happy or excited. This includes funny videos, surprising facts, topical content, cute cats and babies.

By monitoring what your target audience is sharing across social media by using social listening, you can get an idea of the content that would work for your audience. There are several outlets that can help you determine the most popular content by topic or keyword, or you can engage an agency to identify the most relevant content for you.

4. Discover the channels where customers are engaging

Using data analytics, you can see which channels are popular among users and whether, for example, it's electronic direct mail (eDM) or social media that are driving the most traffic. However what you won't know is how much of your audience is actually active on other channels.

With social listening, you can see how many of your users are on the channels you favour and you can also find out if your target users are on a channel you may not have considered using, such as Pinterest or Tumblr. By keeping track of hashtags, reviewing conversations and monitoring shares, you may be able to identify a brand new outlet to reach the people who are most interested in your product.

When combined with data and analytics, social listening is an important part of your marketing strategy. It can help you figure out the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ as well as the ‘how many’ in relation to your audience’s behaviour, providing helpful insights that you can use to refine the message you share with your audience.

However, it isn’t just the collection of raw statistics that can provide insights into the behaviour of your target audience. Social media listening is a powerful tool that can help you refine your business approach.

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