Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring

“Your brand name is only as good as your reputation”

The tricky thing about brand reputation is that it is difficult to achieve but extremely easy to lose. People are not complacent about receiving average services anymore. They turn instantly to online review boards and social media to let the world know about their negative experience. This could easily affect or ruin your brand reputation unless capitalized upon by using social intelligence tools like social media monitoring and social listening.

Online Reputation Social MonitoringA study by Dimensional Research claims “90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews” and 86% customers confirm that their buying decision is influenced by negative reviews. By listening to and monitoring all the chatter related to your brand, you could save your brand’s reputation through timely action and responses.

Social listening and monitoring can provide you with the business intelligence required to manage and protect your brand’s reputation. But let’s first distinguish between Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring.

How is Social Listening Different from Social Monitoring?

Social media monitoring and social media listening are often used interchangeably. And though, they mean almost the same, there is a subtle difference between the two.

Data is not information” yet “Information is just bits of data

Social listening and monitoring revolve around the notions of data and information. Social monitoring is essentially nothing but the data that you collect from social media, social listening yields the actual information.

Puzzle analogy for Social Monitoring vs Social ListeningSocial media monitoring presents you with all the bits and pieces of an unsolved jigsaw puzzle, but social listening joins every piece at the right place to give you a complete picture. Simply put, social media monitoring can be called a subset of social media listening.

Social monitoring includes searching for and gathering data from review boards, social media sites, and messenger forums.

Social listening helps you analyze the data collected, defines your future course of action and plans in accordance with the insights obtained.

Why Use Social Listening and Social Monitoring?

In a rapidly urbanizing world, the number of internet users is constantly increasing. It is essential to keep listening to the concerns of your customers and respond to them before they turn into a pain point.

Your social media efforts might be doing great on the surface but mere likes do not reflect real success. Let’s look at some of the key reasons why gauging the chatter is beneficial:

  • Online Feedback (positive/negative) helps you to know how your customers perceive your products and services
  • Audience Engagement is possible, when we have feedback, whether positive or negative
  • Brand Advocates can be found among the customers who provide positive feedback to spread a positive impression about our brand
  • Proactive Customer Support is possible in real time if we respond to the issues and concerns of customers
  • Competitor Analysis is possible as we see where they stand with their customers and learn about the reasons behind the popularity of their products and services
  • Lead Generation is possible by establishing a positive connection with existing as well as potential customers.

These insights are highly valuable to a brand manager, as they proactively manage their online reputation.

How can Social Media Listening and Monitoring Help You?

Remember we said social listening helps yield information from the data collected through social monitoring?

Target and planning Social monitoring vs social listeningThis information can help you design an effective action plan to manage your online reputation and to strategize about other functions of your business too! When there is a considerable amount of negative chatter about your customer service, most of them would mention the reason for it. It could be due to long response time, unsatisfactory response or even a rude or uncaring attitude. It can help you chalk out a plan for changing the processes of your customer service department.

Social monitoring measures the scope of future marketing needs. You can gauge the reach your brand has on social media and know how many users are talking about you. This knowledge can help you design future marketing strategies and campaigns.

Business intelligence and social media listening are almost synonymous today. Gain insights into customer satisfaction and react proactively in real time to build a solid online reputation, without incurring huge costs.


Why should B2B brands use a social listening and media monitoring platform?

The use of social listening tools by consumer facing brands has an obvious and tangible value. B2C industry verticals have frequent consumer interactions which is enabled by such platforms. Furthermore, such brands rely on listening platforms to derive consumer insights and apply these in formulating their marketing strategies. Therefore, investing in social listening tools makes sense.

But how about using social listening tools for B2B? How often have we heard the refrain – “But we are a B2B brand, why should we invest in social listening?”

Is such an investment an overkill?

No. In fact the ROI from investing in a listening platform is as attractive, if not more, for B2B brands.

The underlying differences between B2B and consumer facing businesses can define the utility of listening and the value therefore. Here are some:

  • B2B businesses typically interact with fewer customers and have fewer relations to manage versus B2C brands. (There are exceptions, but let us ignore that sub-segment for a bit).
  • Each B2B opportunity could be potentially worth millions. Very unlike B2C.
  • The lifetime value of an individual customer is significantly higher. Therefore, relationships with each individual customer is worth more.
  • Competitive insights and intelligence makes a big difference in the sales, cross-selling and up-selling process.

These assumptions might hold true for most B2B brands, especially enterprise brands. Let us discuss a few ways in which listening tools can be meaningfully used by B2B brands.

Each customer relation has significant value. Responsiveness nurtures this relation.

Think of typical B2B engagements.

  • A consulting engagement for a top-tier consulting firm.
  • A software services contract with a IT services provider.
  • An ERP solutions provider.
  • A pharmaceutical ingredient supplier.

The common themes are as follows:

  1. Many of these are multi-year, multi-million worth contracts.
  2. A very few people from either side hold the key to forging and sustaining such relationships.

Using a social listening and insights platform you can: a) gather insights about your own existing customers, b) be responsive when your customers reach out to you using social media, c) engage the key opinion leaders (KOLs) and leadership within your customer’s organization. It is obvious that these measures will nurture the relationship and improve customer satisfaction and retention.

After all, each of these relationships need insights to nurture. The more alert and responsive the brand the better.

A responsive and engaged brand would lead to a groundswell of support and positive feedback from within the customer, making the relationship that much stronger.

Your strategy is as good as the intelligence you gather. Deeper insight offers competitive advantage.

The foundation of a good strategy whether it be related to launching new products or services, entering a new market or enhancing your share of the customers’ wallet is intelligence.

Intelligence about what innovation the customer seeks. What competitors are doing in the market and new trends which need to be considered.

Consider that you are a large medical equipment manufacturer. Also imagine that you gather than one of your customer, which is a hospital network announces that it is launching new locations. Would this piece of intelligence help you prepare a pro-active pitch? The answer should be a unanimous, ‘yes!’.

How do you gather such intelligence about your customers and competitors?

Research reports? Yes, absolutely. But investing in sophisticated social listening platforms can give you insights which are comprehensive and from across different mediums. And all of this in real time.

The better and deeper the insights the more grounded and robust your strategy. And that helps you win new customers and enhance existing engagements.

Identifying customers can be very valuable.

Can we identify customers using listening? Yes, with sophisticated platforms, and Auris is one of them, you can.

Using listening to identify customers who are looking or evaluating different options, you can guide the decision makers to the right resources or reports and therefore influence their decision, without coming across as intrusive.

Imagine converting just one customer discovered using listening. The ROI would most certainly be significant.

Your share of PR makes a difference.

Higher salience leads to more enquiries – this is very well understood. But how high is good enough?

How do you define the key performance metrics for your corporate communications or PR program? One important metric is your share of PR versus your competitors.

Using good media monitoring platforms can help you measure your performance in news media, relative to competition.

Measuring is the first step towards improvement. Active media monitoring can help B2B brands improve their PR competitiveness, which in turn impacts customer perception and the volume of inbound leads.

Monitoring media mentions can help avoid crises and related costs.

All publicity is good publicity. Or is it?

The cost of negative PR can be astronomical. A negative news which propagates through social media, can make prospects move away to alternatives. It could also make existing customers start looking for alternatives.

One way to avoid or at least limit a media crisis is by actively monitoring mentions.

Good listening platforms offer crisis alerts, which can help avert corporate brand catastrophes. Cost avoidance of this nature is in-fact tremendous ROI.

Employer brand health

How is your brand performing as an employer brand? For most IP oriented product companies and almost all services companies, the talent they attract and retain encompasses their real value. The employer brand is an important, though intangible asset.

Listening tools help bring employee concerns to your attention. Active listening can help understand opportunities to enhance the workplace environment. This goes a long way in improving productivity, employee morale and therefore retention.

Although this represents an investment towards creating an intangible asset, but most Fortune 100 brands deploy listening to cover employer brand health because they have understood first-hand how employer brand health matters.

Decision influencers – do you have a strategy for them?

Your marketing program has mapped out decision makers. But what about decision influencers, especially 3rd party influencers?

For example, how much do industry journalists or analysts talk about you? Who are you compared with? Are you listed in the “Top 10 ERP solution providers ..” or “The consulting companies you should definitely speak with?” Are your CXOs invited to industry panels or to join industry advisory boards?

The question often is how do we seek out these analysts and journalists? One way to start is to deploy social listening and monitor influencers who routinely talk about the industry you play in.

Regularly being referred to or being mentioned by decision influencers can go a long way to driving a positive perception amongst your prospects and then improve your lead to conversion ratios.

Alternative data – your source of insights about your customers

There has been a great deal of success seen in using alternative data for customer insights. How can you look at customer chatter to understand the prospect’s business needs better?

Let’s take a hypothetical example. One where a technology company is prospecting with an airline company on implementing IT solutions.

A typical meeting would start by you posing the question – “What are some of your unmet needs on technology?”

What if you could do better than that. What if you could say, “We have understood that your customers face more baggage loss issues than your peers. We can implement a solution which can reduce such instances by 25%.”

We all know which interaction would lead to the next meeting or better still an RFP.

The investment? A listening platform to understand the prospective customer’s issues. The ROI could be phenomenal.

In conclusion.

The answer to “Whether a B2B brand should utilize the power of social listening?” is a resounding YES. B2B brands can reap rich returns from social listening. Pick a robust listening solution and add to both your topline and bottomline.


Business Insights using Social Intelligence

Innovations made possible by technology are a way of life today, helping to improve the way we do business. A great example would be how artificial, and social intelligence is helping us to gain advanced insights into customer preferences.

Customer insights for social Intelligence

Social Intelligence, also known as social media intelligence, is a collection of tools which gather analytical information from open sources or closed social networks, using a combination of intrusive and non-intrusive methods.

Social Intelligence for Business Learning

Managers continuously search for genuine insights which would help them design products that resonate well with their customers. Social listening provides great insights which help them gain such business intelligence.

To illustrate, let’s see how Barclays realized the real value of social listening when they launched their banking application PingIt. Real-time customer insights helped Barclays gauge customer preferences and make critical changes to their application. Sentiment analysis of the data collected from social media showed that there was some negative chatter building around the lack of banking provisions for teenagers (under 18s) in the app. Responding quickly to the customer feedback, Barclays added the missing feature within a week.

Barclays PingIt was downloaded more than 120000 times in just 5 days.

Layers of Social Intelligence

There is an ever-growing number of companies willing to invest in and try social intelligence. However, the term has been loosely used and has left much confusion in its wake.

Social intelligence is often confused with social listening and social monitoring. Though they fall under the same umbrella, each one is different and unique in its own way. Social listening and social monitoring are tools we use to gain social intelligence.

Social intelligence is about gaining a thorough understanding of the available social data. It has many layers which make the overall analysis easy and flexible.

Social Monitoring and listening

Social monitoring and listening help assimilate the data from all the built-up chatter.

The chatter collected can house historical data about your brand, search queries, social media comments or conversations, and review board entries etcetera. The source of data also determines the quality of the data and the final analysis in turn.

Social Listening

Data Management

Often, the social data collected is unstructured. Data management aids appropriate filtration and segmentation which makes it worthy of further investigation. Sometimes, a brand with a generic name (say, a brand called lemon), can draw in a lot of non-relevant chatter, but data management helps to weed out the unnecessary bits.

The usual filters include:

Time specific: Data ranging from a few minutes to a few years

Geography: Data from specific geographical areas

Media type: The source of the data – Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ Google reviews

Sentiment: Positive, negative or neutral

Advanced Analysis

Advanced analytics takes care of anything that goes beyond the scope of data management. Businesses seek actionable insights which can be translated directly into a corrective strategy.

Using advanced analytics like Boolean processing, you can bridge the gap between an action and its outcome. Social listening enables you to draw relevant mentions and conversations while data management helps filter it. Analytics, on the other hand, translates the meaning of the conversation extracting the most key perceptions.

Distribution

Social intelligence has evolved dramatically over the years. Analytics is no more limited to a dashboard, with options for customizations. Real-time insights also come in the form of reports, alerts and command centers.  When choosing a social intelligence platform, its ability to deliver actionable insights is the desired feature, for companies.

The analysis of relevant social media chatter and the references drawn from it can help your business outperform your competition in a hundred ways. Social media intelligence helps you deliver on that promise by making your business evolve furthermore.


Competitor Analysis using Social Listening

Enterprises, like people, try to be recognized for being the best at what they do. Are your competitors allowing your company to achieve this dream? Social listening for competitive intelligence can help you achieve your goals. Competitor analysis offers a sense of how well your company is faring when compared to others in the marketplace.

Competitor analysis holds the answer key to questions like:

Why is my company not the market leader?

What marketing strategies are my competitors using?

What are their weaknesses and strengths?

The idea, of course, is not to mimic your competitors. It is but a part of the game to learn and borrow from or improvise upon their winning strategies. Social listening enables you to do so.

What is Competitor Analysis and Why is it Important?

Planning a good marketing strategy starts with knowing your opportunities, strengths, and weaknesses. Identifying these gets easier when you closely monitor the significant players in your industry and analyze their actions.

Business competitor analysis

By definition, competitor analysis helps you gather information about your competitors to analyze it and derive insights on where your business stands in comparison to them. The actionable insights derived from such competitive intelligence could help you to rise above your competition.

Let’s consider a good example of gaining competitive intelligence through competitor analysis – athletes. Sportspersons and teams must follow an opponent’s game, directly or from recordings to understand their strengths and weaknesses, style and strategy. This knowledge helps them decide their own defensive or offensive strategy easily. This search for an Achilles’ heel is mimicked by businesses. A company’s strategy is backed by competitor intelligence, sound logic, careful judgment.

There must be a reason why 55% of Fortune 500 companies engage extensively in competitor analysis and competitive intelligence for decision making.

How does Social Listening help Conduct Competitor Analysis?

Tech-savvy managers today can get ahead of their competition using social listening powered by artificial intelligence makes it very easy for tech-savvy managers. However, before we discuss that, let’s briefly look at how competitor analysis benefits you:

It helps you understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses

Finds gaps and opportunities within the marketplace

Helps you plan effective marketing and other functional strategies

Aids in planning and strategizing your company’s future course of action

In addition to the usual annual reports, newspaper articles, and press releases, social media is where one looks for data. By social media data, we do not mean skimming through the online content put out by your competitors. Social media listening helps you listen to the positive as well as negative sentiments of their customers and delve deeper into analyzing it.

Wondering what all you can learn through social listening?

Your primary competitors

Say you plan to open a pizzeria in your town, thinking you have no other competitor. Social media mentions can tell you a different story. Maybe people have been tweeting a lot about the recent arrival of Papa John’s or Pizza Hut in town, and you had no idea of their presence at all.

 Share of Voice

Your brand’s exposure as well as a comparison of how much more everyone is talking about your competitors.

Sentiment Analysis

Having a good share of voice is not always a positive thing if many of the mentions denote negative sentiment. Such analysis helps you understand the weaknesses of your competitors and vice versa.

Customer Perceptions - sentiment analysis-min

Public Interests

Say you are planning to revamp your pizzeria. You can tune into social media chats, to see which places are liked by your target audience for their ambience and interiors. Take inspiration from there, and turn your pizzeria into their favorite spot.

SWOT Analysis

Social listening analyzes the data collected to show the weaknesses of your competitors and the opportunities this holds for you.

How to Conduct Competitor Analysis?

Social media listening is a tool for competitor analysis, using which you can derive optimum results with minimal effort. Planning for useful competitive intelligence will include:

Choosing the Right Tool:

With the right tool, monitoring social media data across all channels and analyzing it becomes simple and quick.

Comprehensive Research Template:

You could gain greater clarity on the kind of social listening tool you want, by preparing a detailed template, mentioning the factors which need to be measured, like:

  • Target Market: This helps you understand the demographic and geographical details of your target market. The target market your competitors are focusing on can help you decide your target audience.
  • Differentiation factor: What is unique about your brand which sets you apart from your competitors? Learning about their social media activities, about their products, etc will help you analyze this.
  • Marketing Strategy: How well are your competitors planning their brand presence online and offline, what campaigns are resonating the most among your audience and why? The answers to these questions too lie in the analysis of the data available to help you decide your own marketing strategy.

There can be many attributes to your research. Modeling your research template according to your needs and analyzing the data for each of your competitors in detail will help you prepare a comprehensive business model for your brand.


The Most Popular Social Listening Tools

Business intelligence holds the key to a company’s progress, and the simplest way to gain crucial business insights is to interact directly with the most valuable stakeholder – your customer. Listening to what your customer has to say helps build your brand in today’s wired world. Once you realize the importance of this, you will want to know all about the best and most popular social listening tools.

Social listening helps you track the direct mentions or discussions which refer to your brand, by name. There’s a huge advantage in this knowledge, as you can effectively deal with any customer issues and inquiries. Moreover, you can also respond to negative comments about you on social media, stopping them from presenting a unilateral viewpoint which could turn away any potential future customers.

Social listening tools are available in plenty, but it’s important to ensure that the tool meets your specific needs. The complexity or simplicity of the tool you use depends on the size of your company and your requirements.

How to Choose the Right Social Listening Tool?

Small businesses would need a simple CRM system to be able to reply, engage and manage the company’s interaction with the customer. Basic social listening tools like Tweetdeck and Boardreader, are efficient and help achieve these root objectives.

Larger companies would need a suite complete tool with real-time listening, competitive insights, ability to engage with consumers, which can monitor their advocacy programs and draw up their future strategies. The list includes names like Hootsuite, Keyhole, TweetReach, and Mention.

A factor to consider is the volume of data and sources. For example, if most of your brand’s chatter is on one channel, say Twitter, a free tool such as TweetDeck should suffice.

A great tool caters to your present and possible future needs. One good way of picking a suitable tool is to go for trial versions before making an informed decision.

We list some of the popular social listening tools here:

1.  Hootsuite

This tool tops the list because this free platform offers its services across almost all possible social media sites – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, WordPress. Hootsuite is well known for the array of services they offer which include social monitoring, help with the organic and promoted ads, and analytics among others.

The platform has a very thoughtful approach to the needs of a business. Some of the features worth mentioning include their weekly reports, options for task delegation and team management with a real-time search facility.

Hootsuite - social listening tools

2. Keyhole

Keyhole is a tool that can be used for social listening and management on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Their analytical reports are a complete package with not just real-time data but also historical data. Heat maps, one of their reputed features, shows the activity levels at specific geographical locations.

Moreover, the layout of their reports, decked with neatly laid out charts and graphs, is very easy to go through.

Keyhole - social listening tools

3. TweetReach

TweetReach’s snapshot reports make it a great free social listening tool. This can be your go-to tool if you are interested to know the reach and actual impact of your posts and that of your competitors’. Influencer marketing will prove a cakewalk since you can figure out who are the most influential followers you have.

TweetReach

4. TweetDeck

TweetDeck is a free, simple and user-friendly social listening tool. The simplicity of this app makes it one of the best-fitted options for beginners. The app helps you listen to and follow all chatter related to any hashtag or keyword, retweet, reply, engage and maintain your overall twitter account. The tool has three versions – the web platform, an app for mac and one for chrome.

TweetDeck

5. Mention

Mention’s most noteworthy feature is that it allows you to monitor millions of sources in 42 different languages. You have access to all the possible chatter out there and not just in English, making you stay on the top of all the information flow. This tool also lets you keep track of your team members, to delegate tasks and to generate and download reports by exporting mentions.

Mention - social listening tools

6. Boardreader

Boardreader helps you follow chatter from regular pages, handles, and message groups as well. Most social media sites have message groups, and this is where major discussions and conversations take place. Boardreader helps you monitor such chatter from messaging boards and newsrooms.

Simply fill in a term and a list returns with all the mentions from over the past two years. Graphs and charts can also be generated from the options given. This tool has options for other languages as well.

By this time, you must already be feeling overwhelmed by the number of these tools. Yet these are only a select few from a large pool of social listening tools. The market is brimming with such tools ready to help you take your brand a step further, all you need to do is select the right one to get started.


Social Listening – A Reality Check For Your Brand

Managers are actively engaging themselves in social media marketing. Most of them would agree that social listening is key to social media marketing and online reputation management. Social listening is an effective tool to gauge the truth about customer experiences, product and brand perceptions. The essence of social listening lies in the analysis of the unstructured data available across various social media platforms and review boards. Listening to the right chatter and the right audience makes all the difference when we respond to them in real time.

Growing brand awareness and reputation is a vision that can be realized when we know the present truth about our brand. Our actions speak volumes about our brand. And with the correct actions/interventions, we can hit a home run.

How does Social Listening help?

With social listening, managing brand reputation is in your control. Social listening helps you figure out the sentiment around your brand, service or product. Social media listening paves the way for data collection and a deeper understanding of the customer’s perception. The feedback, comments/reviews help drill down to the exact fault lines, easily and cost-effectively.

Audience from across the World Wide Web

It brings you a large pool of opinions rather than limited feedback from a small focus group.

A 360-degree approach

A detailed analysis of the data available measures more than just the reach and sentiment. It allows managers to look at the larger picture. Social listening can help you model a comprehensive research plan for your future campaigns, marketing strategy and the overall development of the brand.

Online Brand Reputation - Social Listening

Core Use Cases For Social Listening

Social listening is a powerful tool when you need to analyze scattered data. Some core areas, where social listening can help, include the following:

Sentiment Analysis

You get to learn how followers or potential followers feel about your product/service/brand.

Brand Image/Health

Social media reviews can drive your sales as positive reviews help build a stronger brand image, and a sound brand name gets you more leads.

Customer Engagement

Social listening and monitoring can aid customer engagement. The more you engage with your customers, the more positively it affects your company’s reputation.

Competitor Analysis

Social media listening can help you track your competitors and to learn about their best services and strategies.

Social Listening – The Truth, Reflected!

How do you expect your customers to listen, when you don’t? By connecting with them, listening to them and appropriately responding to them, you can establish your company’s digital presence.

Social listening helps you to know:

  • Whether the overall sentiment among your consumers is positive or negative.
  • If your customers are happy or unhappy with your products/services/brand.
  • If your customers are recommending your product to others or advising them to avoid you

This is how the truth gets revealed! When you listen to your customers, you get the accurate picture of where you stand in their perception and sentiments. If the chatter is negative, you still learn where the problem lies and what exactly do you need to fix about your products or services, to ensure customer satisfaction.

By carefully listening to the chatter, you benefit from the inputs research and gathering consumer insights as well.

Say your company wants to enter the fizzy drinks industry. Analyzing the social media chatter around fizzy drinks could give you a clear idea about the target market you are planning to serve. Armed with this knowledge, investing or divesting is an easy decision to make.

Where Does Social Listening Lead Us?

As you obtain all the insights and analyze them, you may start wondering – now what? Well, it’s time to formulate corrective strategies and see if we can modify or reinforce customer perception.

Each of the issues may call for a tailored approach, But there’s a philosophy which needs to underlie all your corrective measures to be effective:

Note the most common problems faced by your customers

Once you have figured this out, you have the key pain points. You can start strategizing to fix these issues right away.

Find out more about your strengths

If your customers love you for something, make them love you more. Strengthen your value proposition to make your brand irresistible.

Take note of the queries

Cater to your customers and engage with them. Do not keep them waiting for information. Note the questions asked, create an FAQ or engage with them via social media sites, chatbots, etc.

Figure out your loyal followers/customers

Your supporters are valuable. If they stay happy, they influence others to try out your products. Identify your key customers, engage with them and make sure they spread the positive sentiment around.

Keep an eye on your competitors

Social listening helps you strategize by letting you know not just your truth, but the reality about your competitors as well. You can make a comparative estimate of your social media presence versus theirs, the sentiment level of their customers, the product benefits they are offering to emulate the effective strategies.

Do's for Social Listening

With all the social listening, the data and research at your disposal you should be able to choose some effective strategies to work with. Keep listening to the chatter and tracking your brand on social media to achieve a positive online reputation – far superior marketing strategy to any other.