How to conduct smarter social listening for consumer brands

Mar 21

If you want to know exactly what your customers want in 2019, you don’t have to look very hard.

Well, sort of.

Consider that product-related posts are among the most popular across social media. Whether it’s a shout-out or call-out, consumers can’t stop talking about products.

And on a related note, a staggering 60% of consumers actively seek out new products and services via social. Rather than dig through Google results, users can seek out authentic answers from actual people.

The takeaway here? Social media is an absolute goldmine of B2C intelligence. That’s exactly why social media for consumer brands is so important.

Want to know how to position yourself against your competitors? Wondering what products and services your customers want to see in the future?

Through B2C social listening, these answers and so much more are out in the open.

How to use B2C social listening to make better marketing decisions

Chances are you’re already monitoring your mentions and going back-and-forth with your customers. You’re probably keeping a close eye on your follower count, too.

And hey, that’s good!

There’s a massive difference between monitoring and listening, though. While monitoring certainly matters, social listening for consumer brands is about translating your customer interactions into, well, action.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly how social listening for B2C can help attract new customers and ultimately make more informed marketing decisions.

With that, let’s dive right in!

Fine-tune your customer personas

The benefits of creating social media personas are well-documented.

Most B2C industries are crowded with competition. As a result, brands need to dig deep and define exactly what their target audiences look like as “one-size-fits-all” customer profiles just don’t cut it.

Maybe you’re a clothing company targeting environmentally-conscious females in their thirties. Perhaps you’re a grooming brand and your audience is millennial men with beards.

Either way, you’re going to want to be tuned into the pain points and desire of that audience, right?

Social listening for consumer brands means spotting trends and keywords related to the conversations that those customers are having.

For example, let’s say our female audience seems to be buzzing about “vegan” or “hemp” products. Meanwhile, our bearded audience seems to be discussing “hair loss” a lot more lately.  Listening to what your followers and customers are talking about allows you to adjust your personas accordingly and tap into niches that you otherwise might have missed.

Provide more comprehensive customer service

In a world where half of all consumers sound off on businesses via social, the need to provide speedy and thoughtful customer service is universal for B2C brands.

And although Twitter is often seen as the go-to customer service channel for many companies, you can’t afford to ignore the likes of Instagram and Facebook for customer care.

Social listening means not only listening to the variety of concerns among your customers but also what they’re concerned about. This allows you to properly allocate your customer support team and come up with solutions for your customers’ most common questions.

Overcome common sales objections (and uncover opportunities)

Just as you want to know why customers like your products, you need to pay attention to folks who aren’t buying from you.

This series of interactions from Yeti is a good example of how social listening for consumer brands can help businesses overcome objections and uncover opportunities. While Yeti’s posts get tons of love from their followers, they also receive meaningful feedback and questions from their followers.

Each of these comments is totally legitimate and could serve as a sort of “lightbulb moment” for a new product. Part of social listening for B2C is collecting these moments and spotting trends from them. If you see overwhelming demand for a specific product, perhaps it’s time to make it a reality.

Also, remember that your business is just a single voice in your industry’s conversation. Listening to your competitors’ activity is an absolute must-do. For example, B2C brands should have a pulse of customer mentions including product comparisons that pit your products against someone else’s. These sorts of reviews are all the rage on YouTube and social media at large.

These sorts of conversations can clue you in on what your current customers love and likewise what sets you apart from the competition.

Figure out where you stand in your industry

On a related note, understanding how exactly you stack up against your competitors can be tricky.

Metrics alone often don’t tell the whole story. For example, comparing follower counts between two brands is often apples and oranges when engagement rate is what’s more relevant.

This again speaks to why social listening for consumer brands matters so much. Rather than stare at a laundry list of metrics wondering what they mean, listening can provide some much-needed context including:

  • The positive and negative sentiment surrounding your brand mentions online
  • Whether or not your followers are digging your content and products
  • What specific terms people are using to discuss your brand

For example, do you know how your potential audiences feel about your industry at large? Sprout’s social listening and analytics features such as sentiment analysis can help brands understand where the love is coming from and what’s cause for complaint.

Meanwhile, reporting via Sprout also highlights the most popular keywords and hashtags related to your business. Combined with sentiment analysis, you can understand what people are saying about your business and why.

Highlight your unique selling proposition

Hidden within the data points above is your brand’s unique selling proposition.

Again, B2C brands need to have their positioning on point if they want to stand out in a sea of competition.

Specialized features, price points and speedy service are just a few concerns that your prospects and customers have about whatever you might be selling. B2C social listening encourages brands to dive deep into what their target audience is looking for.

Beyond your own mentions, consider how conversations on platforms like Reddit can highlight the specific needs of customers that you or your competition might not be aware of.

Capitalize on your customer interactions

Customer mentions are invaluable for B2C. Whether it’s a shout-out or customer photo, such mentions serve as valuable social proof and marketing firepower that show off your satisfied customers.

Of course, such moments are time-sensitive. Through social listening, you can track your mentions in real-time to craft meaningful responses that capitalize on your most important customer interactions.

Looking at your biggest brand advocates and most-shared products, brands have an even better idea of what drives engagement from their followers.

Note that not all of your mentions are necessarily going to be positive. This again circles back for the need to provide stellar customer service. Especially in the case of a question or call-out, sleeping on comments is a bad look. Social listening ensures that you respond in a timely manner.

Measure the success of your marketing campaigns

This is a big one.

B2C brands are expected to consistently roll out new campaigns, both for the sake of keeping up with social media trends and producing fresh content for your followers.

Of course, those campaigns come with some sort of price tag. Social listening empowers brands to put your most important campaigns into context to see if they’re actually paying off. For example, consider how social listening can help brand assess the following:

Sprout features such as engagement tracking can assess spikes in activity as a result of such campaigns. Businesses should rightfully be held accountable for the success (or lack thereof) from social campaigns to ensure that they can get the most bang for their buck.

How to streamline social listening for consumer brands

Now that we’ve broken down the benefits of social media listening for B2C, the question remains: how do you start tracking all of this stuff?

Fair question!

There is a decent amount of data you can gather “by hand” to get your social listening strategy off the ground. For starters, you’re going to want to conduct some competitive analysis to determine what other companies are targeting your customers. Similarly, businesses should understand how to spot hashtags and keywords relevant to the products they’re selling.

Of course, nothing beats an advanced listening tool such as Sprout to give you a comprehensive overview of your B2C social presence. For example, Sprout’s reporting can pull hashtags and phrases associated to your business including competing brand names to watch.

The process is tracking these terms is a cinch, especially with the help of Sprout’s query builder. Instead of just monitoring your brand’s mentions, you can spot conversations that could lead to new customers which otherwise would have gone totally unnoticed.

The beauty of Sprout is that our listening tool gives you a bird’s eye view of social media as well as the web at large. In other words, you can track the networks that matter the most to your business and have detailed reports delivered directly to your inbox at a moment’s notice.

How’s that for listening?

What does your B2C social listening strategy look like?

People are inevitably talking about your business online or at the very least your industry.

So ask yourself: are you listening?

From new products to better positioning, B2C brands have so much to gain when they’re able to tap into the conversations of prospects and customers alike. That’s exactly why social listening for consumer brands is such a worthwhile investment.

We want to hear from you, though. How well are you listening to your customers? How do you keep your ear to the ground on industry conversations? Let us know in the comments below!

This post How to conduct smarter social listening for consumer brands originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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