Over the past 5 years, I’ve done social listening for all types of clients—clients in different industries, of varying sizes, and with a range of social experience levels. But no matter what the industry, size, or level of experience, it’s important to build a successful social listening program in order to uncover the information most helpful to you.

The biggest mistake people make here is paying too much attention to the low-hanging metrics—we’re talking impressions and engagements. Simply looking at metrics is what’s called social monitoring, not social listening. In order to truly listen, you need to take into account social sentiment; in other words, how people are engaging with your brand and where you can respond and not just passively watch as a bystander. In many ways, social listening is like conducting a very, very large focus group; it’s meant to be forward-looking and actionable, not just a simple snapshot of historical performance.

Here are 4 tips on how to master social listening like a pro:

  1. Learn from the competition. Take a look at what your competitors are saying on their social channels so you can set yourself a part from the rest. At the same time, make a mental note of what your competitors do well so you can replicate as best practices, while also noticing any “what not to dos” so you don’t make the same mistake.
  2. Deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Meet your audience where they are. Research your key audiences and up-and-coming audiences to find out what social channels they use most frequently, what type of content they engage with, and when they’re most likely to engage.
  3. Dig beyond the numbers. Don’t just look at the global themes—sometimes, the enthusiasts with the loudest voices on social media can be misleading. Pay attention to the details and take the time to read through posts and comments in order to find those golden nuggets of information.
  4. Get out of your comfort zone. Social media is the perfect platform to push boundaries. Step outside the box and explore new ideas. You can test hashtags, campaigns, spend levels, post frequencies, post types… the options are endless. Never stop testing and learning.

Building a successful social listening program can uncover information that can help set your business apart from the competition, reveal how your audience perceives and engages with your brand, and expose new ways your products and services are being used. Today is the day to start listening!

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