What Every Local Business Needs to Know About Social Listening
When you run a local business, your reputation matters. Customers share both the good and the bad experiences they have with the businesses in their city. They refer people to places they love, and they tell people to steer clear of the places where they’ve had a bad experience.
This is why social listening is so important.
Let’s look at what social listening is and how your local business can use it to monitor and manage your reputation, better serve customers, and lead to more referrals and positive customer reviews.
What Is Social Listening?
Social listening is the process of tracking and analyzing what customers say about your brand, offerings, industry, and competitors so you can make better marketing and business decisions. When your brand engages in social listening, you listen to what customers think, want, and need and use the insights to determine how you can better serve them.
Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring
Social listening is often lumped into the same category as social monitoring, but they are not one and the same. Social monitoring is only half of the equation.
- Social monitoring is looking at what people say about your brand.
- Social listening is looking at what people say about your brand and making changes based on what you hear.
Social monitoring gathers data. Social listening encourages you to act based on the data you find.
How to Start Social Listening
The first step in social listening is the monitoring part. You need to seek out and find the comments that customers are saying about your brand and industry. To start taking the pulse of your customers, here are a few ways your local brand can start to engage in social listening.
Track relevant brand mentions on social channels. Use a tool like Hootsuite or SocialSprout to monitor keywords that are relevant to your business and customers. Create feeds that curate posts on social channels that mention your:
- Brand name
- Product / service names
- Branded hashtags
- Hashtags related to your industry
- Competitor's brand and product names
- Names of leaders in your company
Follow conversations about your city. Local brands should also keep a radar on what people in their community are saying about the area. Create a stream of comments from customers that relate to your city name, neighborhood, or popular destinations and attractions in your area.
Check the comments. When you post content on your blog or social channels, keep an eye on what customers are saying in the comments. Comments may be directed to your business or other users. Either way, they may include useful insights.
Monitor customer reviews. Customer reviews are a great place to find information about how customers feel and about your brand and offerings. Make it a part of your process to regularly check in on reviews left on Google Business Profiles, Yelp, and Local Area Sites.
What Can You Learn & Gain from Social Listening?
Once you see what customers are saying about your business, you can start to collect valuable insights. You can identify opportunities and find ways to fill gaps to give customers more of what they want and need. Here are a few things you can learn and gain from social listening.
Brand Sentiment: Get a feel for how customers think about your brand. Is there anything coming across that you don’t want to? Is there anything that you can lean into?
Product / Service Sentiment: What do customers think about your offerings? Are there offerings they talk about more than others? What can you do to better elevate or promote those offerings? On the other side, are there offerings customers don’t like? Should you eliminate or improve those products and services?
Brand Positioning: Consider how nearby customers talk about their wants and needs. Are there gaps that your brand can fill? Are there opportunities to position your brand in a way that customers are searching for?
Industry Trends: How are customers talking about products and services in your industry? What do they need that they can’t find? What problems do they have with existing options?
FAQs: Dig into the questions that customers regularly ask about your business or your industry. How can you answer their questions through your marketing campaigns or content?
Competitive Analysis: See what customers are saying about your competitors. Can you offer them something better than the bad experience they had with a competitor? Can you make a joke or an offer that pulls them to do business with you next time? What do they love that your competitors offer that you might be missing?
Campaign Performance: After you launch a marketing campaign, look for comments from customers. Did they share, respond, or comment about your efforts? Did they completely ignore your promotions? Consider what worked and what didn’t.
Identify Brand Evangelists: Look for the people who talk about and love your brand. Connect with them and find ways to reward them for their loyalty and encourage even more positive brand comments in the future.
Collect Social Proof: When you find positive comments about your brand, consider how you can pull the content and use it as social proof. Take screenshots or embedded social media content that speaks highly of your business and use it in your marketing materials. Or, simply reshare it through your social channels.
Customer Experience: Customers often use social media as a way to manage customer service issues. Keep up with these issues in a timely manner. Resolve them as soon as possible and use the comments to identify ongoing issues that need to be fixed in your process or offerings.
Build a Better Brand Reputation
Brand reputation is especially important for local brands. Local customers love to share their experiences about nearby businesses. Use these conversations for your benefit. Engage in social listening so you can get a read on how customers feel about your business, offerings, and community.
Monitor conversations and use insights to make changes in your business that will better appeal to nearby customers.
If you need help with setting up processes to hear what customers are saying or with taking the information you gather and turning it into actionable insights, MyArea Network is here to help. We specialize in working with local businesses and helping them better connect with customers in their communities.
See how we can help your business build a strong reputation for your local brand. Schedule your free call with our team today.