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What Is Social Listening?

July 27, 2020 Carolyn Harding

Today, consumer values, industry trends and brand perceptions can all change in the blink of an eye. From a positive customer review to a competitor’s newly launched product to evolving trends and values throughout consumers and the greater society, keeping up with all the moving parts of 2020 can be tricky. The solution? For many brands, relying on social listening to obtain access to useful data has proved beneficial.

What Is Social Listening?

Shutterstock_1098674021 Digital marketing campaign data analytics report with metrics and key performance indicators (KPI) on information dashboard for advertisement strategy on internet, business person in office

Social listening is the process of monitoring or tracking a brand’s media channels for specific keywords, phrases, consumer feedback, direct brand mentions, competitor updates or overall industry trends. Social listening tools, like HubSpot or Hootsuite, are often used to help manage real-time social listening searches. Each piece of data a brand receives from social listening should be aggregated for deep analysis. The goal is to use the data to gain valuable insight into a brand’s image, audience and broader market. While it’s easy to assume social listening correlates solely to social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter, social listening can and should span across all media channels.

According to Marketing Land, social listening can be called many names, including “buzz analysis, social media measurement, brand monitoring, social media intelligence and social media monitoring.”

Can Social Listening Go Beyond Just Brand Mentions?

Absolutely. In fact, social listening should be used far beyond just the monitoring of a single brand. If 2020 has proved one thing, it’s that brands must be aware of the world around them, not just what is related to their own organizations. When you look at some of the major events as of late - from the ongoing health crisis to the impactful Black Lives Matter movement - one thing that has stood out is the positive impact a brand can make when it is in tune with consumer trends and beliefs and what is happening across the globe. 

While brands can and should do their best to predict strategies and trends, the ability to quickly shift marketing plans to resonate with consumers is an invaluable trait, and one that social listening can greatly aid. Brands should invest as much time monitoring what consumers care about, what they expect from companies and trends shaping the world as a whole just as much as they monitor the buzz surrounding their organizations. Performing social listening outside of a specific brand’s mentions makes it more likely marketing will resonate with consumers on a much deeper level and establish trust with customers. 

Why Does Social Listening Matter?

The greatest benefit of broad social listening is that the insight gathered stretches far and wide. Through social listening, brands should gain insight beyond just their own businesses, and into consumers, competing brands, the overall market and general consumer sentiment about life today. 

By gathering data from social listening, marketers can create and promote the content its audience craves, identify new strategies and ideas based on consumer insights and help ensure positive experiences for current and prospective customers.

Is Social Listening More Important Today Than In Years Past?

Shutterstock_1038574906 Young woman using a smartphone in a subway

While many marketers have utilized social listening in some form, the importance of gathering consumer and industry insight is extremely prevalent today, as nearly every business sector is experiencing unprecedented trends and demands amidst the pandemic. According to recent Gartner research, only 51% of marketers relied on social listening as a means of staying informed on consumers’ shifting habits and wants throughout the health crisis. With all the changes happening during 2020, that number should be much closer to 100%.

Understanding what consumers want, a brand’s perception and the direction an industry is moving toward is vital information. It’s also important to keep in mind that social listening does not have an end point. Social listening is a continuous journey and something every brand should implement into their strategies for the long-haul. 

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About the Author

Carolyn Harding

Carolyn Harding is an Associate Manager of Communications at Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. DMS helps its clients accelerate growth by deploying diversified and data-driven customer acquisition solutions that deliver scalable, sustainable and measurable marketing results. DMS performance marketing solutions connect the right consumers with the right offers at the right time to achieve the marketing objectives of our clients. DMS is continually innovating to provide new and emerging media and technology solutions that minimize waste and maximize results across the most competitive industries. Since its inception, DMS has demonstrated incredible year-over-year growth which has earned recognition on the Inc. 5000 list in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

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