Last updated on January 13th, 2023
As a digital marketer, I have to keep my mind open to new and interesting strategies to try out.
Audiences and consumers are constantly changing, and so myself and so many other marketers need to keep on our toes to make sure we are getting the most out of our marketing.
One strategy that has caught my attention recently is social media listening. So, I thought I would discuss social media listening here, its impact on customer advocacy, and how this can help boost your business.
I hope this guide proves to be useful and insightful to help you build your marketing strategies and policies!
What Is Social Media Listening?
First, let me explain what social media listening is.
Social media listening, or just social listening as it is sometimes called, is a practice used in marketing that monitors multiple social media channels for any mentions of your business, your competitors, and any related keywords that are relevant to your company and brand.
How Social Media Listening Works
Currently, 4.59 billion people in the world are active social media users and that roughly equates to over half (58%) of the global population.
What all this means is that a lot of businesses can find their target audience and potential customers on social media – and this also means that they can find your business on social media too.
As a result, a lot of businesses create a presence for themselves on multiple social media platforms and invest in social media marketing.
77% of social media marketers say that social media marketing ranges from somewhat to very effective for their businesses, and one way these marketers use social media is through social media listening.
How social media listening works is by tracking all the social media posts that mention your business by name.
Marketers can then see what their target audience are saying about the business and use that information to provide intelligence for future marketing strategies.
Marketers also track or ‘listen’ to posts that mention their competitor’s name or services, or any keywords related to the business’s industry.
For example, dentists in New York would listen in on any social media posts that mention ‘dentists in New York’ to see what is being said.
Approximately 51% brands use social monitoring and listening in any kind of capacity and this could potentially increase in the future as 63% of social media marketers believe that listening will become more important in the future.
Social Listening Vs Social Monitoring
The difference between social media listening and social media monitoring is actually very minute but it’s still something I want to highlight here.
Social media listening is all about actively tracking, recording, and using posts that mention businesses for intelligence purposes. A marketer will record each post, analyze it, and use the insight it gives to inform future potential marketing campaigns.
Social media monitoring, on the other hand, actively responds to the posts.
For example, imagine a customer has made a post on social media complaining about your business’s product. Social media listening would record that post and use it as intelligence for later business and marketing practices.
Social media monitoring would reply directly to the post and use customer service strategies to try and retain the customer by apologizing, offering a refund, etc.
Both social media listening and social media monitoring are very similar at first glance, but the main difference is how each method reacts to social media posts.
Social media listening responds by making changes to future marketing strategies, while social media monitoring responds by replying directly to the post and interacting with the social media user on a more personal level.
Why Is Social Media Listening Important?
Social media listening is used by marketers due to how it can impact multiple aspects of marketing and business practices. Here are some examples of how social media listening is used by marketers:
- Competitive Research – Social media listening can be used to track what praise and complaints are raised about your business’s competitors. As a result, these posts can give your business insight into what your competitors are doing well and what they are failing at.
- Market Trends – Trends do not last long but by using social media listening, businesses can keep track of the latest trends to try and make predictions for future marketing campaigns. This can keep them ahead of competitors.
- Customer Relationships – Customer retention is between 5 to 25 times more affordable than customer acquisition, so many businesses are aiming to lower their customer churn rate. Social media listening helps by providing insights into what customers want and like, while providing feedback to avoid future mistakes.
- Campaign Targeting – Social media listening can help marketers understand what their target audience cares about, what language they use, what emojis (if any) they use, and what kind of content they are interested in. All of this intelligence is vital for future marketing campaigns.
Social media listening doesn’t just impact marketing as 71% of marketers say that they also provide insights to other departments using what they learned from social media.
For example, social media listening can also highlight flaws that customers have found in products – and this feedback can be relayed to product development to make future improvements.
What Is Customer Advocacy?
So, that’s social media listening covered – now what about customer advocacy?
Customer advocacy is a strategy used by marketers and businesses that focuses on putting the customer first and working around their needs to deliver the best possible products and services.
Businesses who focus on customer advocacy pay close attention to customer satisfaction scores, customer retention, and other customer-centric intelligence and analysis to inform their decision making.
Because these businesses believe that by improving their customer’s overall satisfaction with their brand through better experience and products, those customers will be more likely to stay loyal to the company and share their positive experiences with others – and this can lead to a boost in revenue for the business.
The Importance Of Customer Experiences
Bad customer experiences can have a devastating effect on businesses. 65% of customers have said that they would change brands due to one poor experience, and 80% said they would rather go to a competitor.
These unhappy customers can also spread the word regarding their poor customer experience, and customers tell on average 16 people about their negative experience with a company.
So, bad experiences can ruin a company’s reputation and branding, which can lead to lower revenue.
On the other hand, good experiences can do the opposite – 84% of companies that improve their customer experiences see an increase in their revenue, and happy customers will tell around 9 people about their positive experiences with a brand.
Customer experiences also have an impact on customer loyalty and retention, which again has a huge impact on businesses.
This means that by focusing on customer experiences, businesses can increase their revenue while cutting costs. Once study even found that a 2% in customer retention had the same effect on business profit as cutting costs by 10%!
So, companies are working towards better customer retention rates and studies show that customer experience heavily influences them.
Despite this, only 12% of customers think that businesses put their customers first so businesses need to work hard if they want to help their customers feel appreciated and valued before they start advocating to their friends and family.
Are Customer Advocates Worth It?
So, customer advocacy strategies can lead to higher customer satisfaction rates and higher customer retention rates, but it can also turn customers into advocates for your business.
What this means is that your customers basically take over some of the marketing for you, and recommend your business to their friends and family – for free!
The costs of digital advertising are actually rising 5 times faster than inflation, which means that more businesses are forced to spend more on marketing.
However, because turning customers into advocates is generally less expensive, more businesses are beginning to try customer advocacy policies.
So, customer advocates are actually more effective at promoting your business than other channels of marketing purely because consumers trust other consumers more than brands!
How Social Media Listening Increases Customer Advocacy
Now, let’s get to the heart of this article – how can social media listening increase customer advocacy?
In a way, this question is poorly phrased because customer advocacy is really the policy businesses take up to try and increase customer satisfaction rates, retention rates, and to transform their current customers into advocates for their brand.
So really, the question should be – how can social media listening help turn your customers into brand advocates for your business?
It Helps You Understand What Customers Want
For most customer advocacy strategies I have seen in practice and learned about through others, the first step is to find out what customers want.
66% of customers expect companies to know and understand their wants and needs, and one great channel to find out this information is social media listening.
Listening to posts centered around keywords related to your business can help you discover what your target consumers want, and posts that praise your business or products can help you learn what your consumers love about your business.
It Helps You Learn What Ruins Your Customers’ Experiences
Just like how you can use social media listening to discover what your customers want, you can also learn what ruins their customer experiences.
47% of people will call out businesses on social media after a poor customer experience, so it’s a great platform to track to find common complaints from consumers.
However, you shouldn’t just let those complaints slide by. 79% of customers who complain online have their complaints ignored – but this is a wasted opportunity for your business to do damage control with some good ol’ customer service.
This all means that if a customer complains or asks a question about your business on social media, they are expecting you to respond!
So, while you are documenting their post for your social media listening for later analysis and research, take the time to reply and address their post.
83% of customers say that they feel more loyal to businesses that not only respond but resolve their complaints – so if you catch negative reviews through social media, it’s important that you monitor as well as listen!
It Helps You Monitor Your Competitors
Competitive intelligence is so valuable for businesses as it can help inform decisions ranging from marketing to product design, customer service to web design, and so much more. Social media listening is a great way to source competitive intelligence.
This means that not only can you find out what consumers like and don’t like about your business and products, but what they like and don’t like about your competitors.
This can give you a big advantage over your competitors, which 57% of companies agree is one of the top 2 priorities in their industry.
81% of marketers say that they are mostly or completely competing with competitors on the basis of customer experience which means that using social media listening can help you keep track of how satisfied your customers are with your competitors and potentially offer solutions.
It Helps You Find Influential Customers
Here’s a surprising benefit of social media listening that a lot of marketers overlook or undervalue – influencers.
The whole point of customer advocacy is to turn your loyal customers into ‘influencers’ themselves so they can recommend your business to their friends and family.
By using social media listening, you will be able to find the most influential customers for your brand and reach out to organize a collaboration, ask for direct feedback, or to focus your customer service efforts on their cases specifically to boost your brand.
61% of consumers trust an influencer’s recommendations which means that getting an influencer to promote your products and brand will have a better effect on potential consumers than your business’s social media content.
Getting on an influencer’s good side can help them do the promoting for you.
First, however, you need to find these influential customers – and social media listening is the way to do it.
Best Tools And Software For Social Media Listening
If you are thinking about using social media listening in the future, then you will need some handy tools and software to help you out.
It’s a big job if you try to do it all manually yourself, but a software or tool can help boost your efficiency while keeping you updated with what’s being said online.
Here are some examples of social media tools and softwares I have heard good things about:
- Brandwatch – This software may be a little on the ‘expensive’ side but it’s understandable when you see just how much it has to offer. Brandwatch doubles as a customer data management tool you can use for social media listening with analysis tools to help you get a better understanding of what your audience are saying, as well as notifications so you can speedily respond to complaints or queries.
- Brand24 – This is pretty affordable as it has a range of pricing options to suit businesses big and small. What I like the most about it is how it helps you find ‘influencers’ in your niche, plus it comes with analytics and real-time mentions feed so you can keep track of the latest comments and discussions about your business.
- BrandMentions – This software does an incredibly wide search for your brand across lots of different platforms and websites so it does more than just scan popular social media websites. This allows you to find more valuable comments about your business. You can also track your competitors and their marketing strategies to gain valuable insights for your own campaigns.
These are just a few examples of the great social media listening tools and software available out there.
Final Thoughts – Should You Use Social Listening?
So, social media listening is clearly an effective strategy marketers can use to research consumers and collect insights for data analysis.
The impact it has on businesses overall, and not just in terms of marketing, is phenomenal and so, I definitely agree that social media listening can increase customer advocacy.
Simply by listening to your consumers and what they say on their social media platforms can help you learn exactly what they want, what ruins their customer experiences, and which customers have the most influence over the others.
All of this opens up incredible marketing opportunities for marketers and also gives product design and customer service teams important intelligence to make changes and decisions.
This all means better products and services for customers – and this is sure to drive up customer satisfaction and loyalty.
As happy customers are more likely to recommend a business to their friends and family, social listening is the key to increasing customer advocacy.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to use social media listening. While I do recommend that you give it a try because the benefits are worth it, it’s completely down to you and your business whether or not you want to adopt this strategy.