• Marketing

5 Ways Social Listening Protects Your Brand

by Ray Goforth | Jul 10, 2018

This post was originally created by Spredfast before Spredfast and Lithium merged and became Khoros.

If I told you this blog post was about managing risk on social (which it is) what would that make you think about? If you're like most people, you probably think of centralizing your publishing, planning, and approval of content through an SMMS right away. If you're really serious about managing risk, you may think of how you're governing native access that employees have to your brand social accounts. What you probably don’t think about when it comes to brand protection is social listening — and I’ll tell you why you should.

Many organizations monitor their social media accounts and believe they have their finger on the pulse of their brand and audience conversations. While monitoring your social channels is an important step, social listening has a broader reach that goes beyond your owned properties. It’s important to acknowledge your audience is having conversations about your brand, products and industry across the digital ecosystem. Identifying these conversations and understanding the conversations around your brand will help mitigate risk and inform your organization on how best to strategize and respond. This blog explains five ways social listening protects your brand from risk and how to get started.

“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed.” — Dan Zarrella

1. Know what people are saying about your brand.

Social listening is no longer a nice-to-have; It is now a function of governance that should be formally written into your social media strategy. One of the greatest dangers to your brand is to be unaware of what people are saying about you because it can lead to crisis management and misperceptions about your brand. Listening allows you to identify a crisis happening around your products or within your audiences that impact what you say and when. Today’s social landscape gives users the ability to shape the perception of a brand whichever way they please, and if a brand is unaware of these conversations or delays in responding to them, it can result in long-term ramifications. On the other hand, when listening is incorporated, it allows the brand to react and be part of a conversation and drive the conversation.

Remember when you’re communicating with your customers to be genuine and sincere in your approach, maintain your brand’s unique voice, and, most of all, provide as much detail as needed to speak to any false accusations. Bottom line, you need to be aware of the buzz surrounding your brand, whether positive or negative and respond accordingly. Investing in social listening allows you to accomplish this quickly and easily.

2. Get real-time insights from your listening platform.

As a result of social listening, brands have the ability to get a play-by-play of crisis and reputation management scenarios in real time. This is a game-changer for public relations, marketing, and customer service teams. Listening can be done broadly, with a brand focus, or more narrowly, focused around products and campaigns—and allowing internal teams to focus communications on segmented audiences and nuanced communication drivers.

The ability to get a play-by-play of crisis and reputation management scenarios in real time is a game-changer for public relations, marketing, and customer service teams.

During crisis management scenarios social listening is a portal of knowledge and provides a window of information that should inform the brand not only what the conversation and sentiment is, but also where their audiences are in the digital ecosystem and what type of language they are using. The more data you can uncover your audience’s perception of your brand, the better informed your internal teams will be in their decision-making. Importantly, make sure you have a process for distributing this intel so it’s not siloed and can be leveraged throughout your organization. Remember, knowledge is power and most departments should be empowered with this information, even if it’s only to better inform them of the customer.

3. Use the listening data to develop messaging.

When you uncover data, you should not only understand the sentiment as listed above, but ideally, you should also understand how people are talking, what keywords they are using, and what conversations they are having. It’s not just important that you respond, but also that you respond in the right way. This is where social listening can help: you can identify if and when it’s appropriate for your brand to enter the conversation.

Once you uncover your audience’s consistent keywords, you’ll want to repurpose these in your messaging. You’ll want to relate to your customers and speak the same language they use to personalize the conversation and make it relatable. Use this language not only on your social media channels but also on your website and any other applicable collateral. As a marketing rule, always mirror your language in a way that reflects your ideal personas and join the conversation if appropriate. Remember to stay true to your brand as well, but, critically, as your personas and various audiences evolve your brand voice will also need to evolve.

Tip: repurpose your audience’s consistent keywords in your brand’s messaging.

4. Identify your internal and external brand influencers and identify how they can help manage and protect your brand from risk.

Listening offers the opportunity to better identify your brand champions and long-term influencers. These are the people who speak positively about your brand, champion your products and also come to your brand’s defense during times of crisis. These people are extremely valuable and can help drive your brand message. You’ll want to define what the qualifiers are for a digital influencer, which often includes how many followers they have, how regularly they post, their positioning in the past and communication consistency as well what audience type are they within your persona groups.

These qualifiers determine who your influencers are and will be present in your social media governance documentation. Keep an on-going list of your influencers and divide them by what audience or persona group they are. Also, ever underestimate the power of a non-professional or micro-influencer, there are many digital influencers that are not noteworthy industry professionals. Once you have your groups of influencers you can form various panels to gain insights prior to pushing things to market. You can also give them content to push out and leverage their influence by A/B testing different content types. And don’t forget your internal employee influencer groups. Power users internally are a great resource for your brand, just make sure to educate them on what is appropriate and provide them with content to help drive your brand message.

5. Listening allows brands to create benchmark reporting.

Brands have the ability to develop benchmark reporting that helps them better understand how they compare with competitors on various topics and who is driving the conversation and engagement. These reports also allow brands to better understand who their competitors are focusing on and the messaging they are developing. This data provides insights that help brands make important decisions about pivoting their positioning in the market, or knowing when to roll out a campaign or product launch based on the what the market wants and is ready for within any given time.

Social listening can be a game-changer for your brand, and not just in the ways you think. Implementing social listening in the right way can actually help you proactively protect your brand.

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