It’s no surprise to anyone: There are a lot of conversations going on out in the world today about many important topics and world events. There are countless important matters to discuss, and matters within matters it seems. The growing amount of high-touch topics and the availability of social media as a marketing strategy is both an exciting and somewhat sobering thing. To have so much at your fingertips is a tightrope not only for social media coordinators and marketing teams, but also for clients, businesses, and actually, anyone using social media.
If I was to be blunt, more and more it can feel like everyone has something to say. Some opinions to give. And while this isn’t entirely bad, it isn’t entirely good, either. Taking a moment to not ignore the important issues around your brand, but to step out of the endless debates, chats, opinions, and keyboard activist to focus on a skill that needs (in my opinion) revisited: listening.
What does listening have to do with your brand? Your company? Your personal page? Your relationships? Your personal life?
We believe a lot.
Merriam-Webster defines listening as: “To hear something with thoughtful attention.”
To listen is to give preference to another. It is not waiting to talk. How busy are we as a brand, company, friend, or significant other with talking instead of listening? And how can listening not only help your social campaign (not to mention your life)? In the context of social media as a marketing strategy, practicing social listening can improve your brand, create community, help avoid PR nightmares, and so much more. All by listening.
Looking at metrics and date is an invaluable practice we utilize here at The AD Leaf to see what is performing well, what could use work, to spot trends, and to develop a strategy. Some would say this is listening, but it is in fact social monitoring. Think of social monitoring as the step before you listen, or the information you are already aware of as you embark on your journey of practicing social listening. Social listening, however, is the practice of listening to what your audience is saying now. It grabs the words as it leaves your client’s mouth and takes hold of them. Look at them. Analyze them. And then use them as valuable pieces of information for them. Let me illustrate.
Apple for the longest time has been known as a brand who is well…stubborn. They have a long-standing habit of being very exclusive, private, and just do their own thing because it works (and this is coming from a die-hard Apple fan). Recently I was watching the Apple Developers Conference, the WWDC, and was shocked at what I was seeing. Apple was having interviews with famous tech Youtubers, they made several changes to their OS that have been longtime requests from their customer base, and so much more. What was even more intriguing was the comment section of this event. There was a massive amount of engagement happening, and most of it was positive. Why? I believe because Apple did something that was new(er) for them: They listened to their customers. Now, we still don’t have the headphone jack, but I think you get my point.
When we listen, something takes place. Your brand sentiment is affected. What is brand sentiment? Let’s call it the overall “mood” of your brand. It’s how people feel about you and what you provide. When you are actively listening to what your audience is saying about you, your brand, your product, your services, and your competition, you can learn valuable nuggets of information that can help improve brand sentiment.
Listening is something that can be done and should be done, everywhere for your brand. If you overhear someone saying in your checkout line that it’s too noisy, then guess what? That is a valuable clue that maybe others are feeling the same way and that is an area that can be developed to improve customer experience! Listening helps you get in front of PR nightmares as well. Do you remember the Nike shoe incident with the Duke basketball player who’s shoe exploded while he played? Yeah, we do too. Nike didn’t hide from it. They actually saw the storm that was brewing on Twitter and they got in front of it by publicly apologizing and reaching out to the player, offering him a great deal. This couldn’t have been done unless their team was listening. In listening, you can catch small wildfires before they become forest fires.
Listening and responding helps create positive momentum within your brand. But don’t just listen for you. Listen to your competitors, too. If you have a competing business that is doing well, listen, and see why they are. Maybe there is something you can learn to improve your own! Listening spots trends, too. If you consistently hear people talking about sustainable purchasing, then maybe it’s something you should look into for a new product line. Listening helps you spot both good and bad trends and provides you with valuable information to take your brand in the right direction.
So, the question remains, “What do I listen for?”
This extends beyond your social media marketing strategy. Listen when you walk into the office. When you walk to the lunchroom. When you login to your accounts. When you take calls. Don’t just listen to the team, but listen to their conversations, and the interactions they are having with clients. All of these are valuable in developing a listening ear.
Learn From Others
If a brand is crushing it, find out why. This may require a bit of humility, but it’s good for us to become a more developed people and brand. Listen to what others are doing. Learn about their success. What mistakes did they make? What challenges did they have? When you do this, you discover why they “walk” the way they do. Listening learns.
Be Aware, but not Reactionary
Listening can be tricky when it comes to reacting. Especially if you come across a rough comment. Take a moment, step back, and assess the situation. Listening is meant to help your brand gather quantifiable information to develop a plan around to better everyone. Be careful not to react but to be aware of what others are saying.
Develop a Plan
Did you know that studies show that top-rated leaders have a desire to do more listening than talking? They prefer it. Listening helps you take in information to then develop a course of action. After all, we aren’t only listening to just listen. We are listening to make more well-informed choices down the road. Listening helps you make a game plan.
Speaking of listening, we at The AD Leaf would love to hear about you and your brand and would love to help you reach your marketing and creative goals. At The AD Leaf ®, we’re here to help you build your brand’s reputation and develop relationships with your customers. Feel free to give us a call at 321-255-0900 or you can email us to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make great things happen together.