How often do you listen—really listen—to the world around you? Birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind … the road rage-induced honking horn of an irritated driver? Ah, the sounds of nature. The truth is, life’s soothing harmonies are often drowned out by other, more irritating noises.
Social media can sometimes feel the same. The mere thought of sifting through the absolute deluge of noise on Twitter may sound soul-crushing. But remember, that cacophony also offers an endless source of value for brands. All you have to do is listen.
For the uninitiated, social listening is exactly what it sounds like—observing the news, trends, people, and influencers that matter most to your brand. But what matters most about social listening is what happens next: using those discoveries to help shape your own social content, blog posts, marketing campaigns, and more. It’s an incredible way for any brand—whether it’s a retail business, star athlete, or hotel—to find new customers, give customers what they want, and surprise, delight, and create ambassadors.
The new age of cold calling
Social listening is more than social management; i.e. responding to tweets and liking Facebook comments. Its real power lies in finding potential customers who aren’t necessarily talking to you, but about problems you can help solve.
With social listening, you can accomplish this in one of two ways:
Look for buyers
Remember when salespeople had to spend all day cold calling potential prospects? Social listening is a much easier and more efficient way to find leads and prospects. Search for phrases that alert you to the shoppers out there, like “looking for” or “can anyone recommend” or “what’s the best.” Chime in with a relevant piece of marketing collateral (blog, checklist, etc.) that answers their question and guides them to your brand.
T1 Tip: Make sure you have the right tool for your listening needs. Yes, you can perform these searches directly in Twitter using their advanced search feature but more advanced social listening tools can make the job easier and help you dive deeper into social conversations.
Monitor competitor mentions
Knowing what people are saying about your competitors is also a chance for brands to capitalize on opportunities for content or maybe even win a new customer or two. Keep an eye on competitor conversations for opportunities to respond to unhappy customers in a way that shows you’ll treat them better than the other guy.
These tactics fall under “social selling” (i.e. using social media to interact with potential customers). And, like cold calling, some might view it as an intrusion on one’s privacy. But unlike dialing up random people who might fit your buyer persona, social media users have put their needs, wants, or anger out there. They’re desperately looking for answers. Timely, personal responses can make all the difference. When brands that capitalize on listening, even the smallest of actions can yield significant results.
Give ’em what they (really, really) want
All Riley Morrison wanted was a pair of Curry 5’s. The 9-year-old girl from Napa, California was a huge fan of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. More importantly, she loved Steph Curry — the face of the franchise, as well as the athletic apparel company Under Armor.
The problem? Under Armor didn’t make Curry’s signature shoe in girl’s sizes. So Riley wrote to Curry on Instagram: “I hope you can work with Under Armor to change this because girls want to rock the Curry 5s too.”
Curry, the father of two daughters, saw the post and told Riley he would rectify the situation. On International Women’s Day, Curry unveiled his new signature line, the Icon Curry 6’s, in shades of purple with messages on the insoles like “Be Bold,” “Girl Power” and “Rock the Currys.”
By listening to his fans, Curry was able to live up to his personal brand—a “too nice” superstar athlete and doting father—and deliver in a way that gained him even more fans. Additionally, Under Armor (which has spent years chasing Nike) was able to expand its customer base and show its willingness to give customers what they want.
Surprise, delight, and create brand ambassadors
Hotels cater to all sorts of guests. And while those who are traveling for business probably aren’t tweeting #blessed or posting artistic photos of the view from the balcony on Instagram, others could be on a romantic getaway to celebrate an engagement or anniversary.
Some vacationers might give the hotel a shout out in hopes of a freebie. But others will simply post photos or tag their location. These instances present a perfect opportunity for hotels to monitor their social media channels and surprise guests with a bottle of champagne, free spa session, or comped dinner.
The “surprise-and-delight” strategy is a winner on multiple levels. Not only does it make the guests’ day, but they’ll also likely post about it on social media—giving you free advertising and creating a brand ambassador for life.
Lend an ear
We’re there for our friends or family when they ask for help or need to get something off their chest. As social media continues to grow into a place where recommendations are asked, feelings vented, and ideas shared, it’s important for brands to add a human touch to their marketing — and what’s more human than listening?
Social listening is more than acknowledging fans and putting out fires. Once you turn down the extra noise, it’s a unique and powerful way for brands to connect with prospects, give customers what they want, and set yourself apart from the competition.
This article originally appeared on the Tier One Partners blog; reprinted with permission.