By now, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about social listening and its importance. You’ve probably heard, too, that social listening and social monitoring are — despite the fact that they sound like they’re very much the same thing — are actually very different. If you’ve missed the discussions about the difference between the two, here it is in a nutshell: Social monitoring is about the “what”, and social listening is about the “why.”
What does this mean? Social media monitoring is all about collecting data and monitoring metrics such as brand mentions, hashtags that are industry relevant, competitor mentions, and industry trends. Social listening builds on this data. After all, what use is good data if you don’t put it to good use? That “good use” can take a number of forms… from an action as simple as posting a response to a customer complaint to taking a stand on an important issue, such as the 2018 announcement made by Dick’s Sporting Goods that the company would no longer sell assault-style weapons.
Not to make this more complicated than it needs to be, there’s yet another facet to social monitoring and listening; it’s called social media sentiment. According to HubSpot, “social media sentiment analysis is a key part of social media listening because it helps you understand how people feel about you and your competitors. Instead of just counting the number of times your brand gets mentioned, you look at what you can learn from social conversations to drive real business results. Being aware of shifts in social sentiment also allows you to respond right away to unexpected changes.”
My apologies. My intent was to simplify things, but I’m afraid I’m not doing very well. My point is that the thinking behind social monitoring, listening, and sentiment monitoring is a very simple one… a basic tenet of solid marketing. The principle that all good marketing is a conversation.
Like any thoughtful marketing tactic, your social media marketing must be more than content output. The beauty of social media marketing — one of them, anyway — is that it is more effective than just about any tactic in providing an environment for that conversation. And a conversation is what consumers are looking for in social media.
Now, wait a minute, you might be saying… isn’t conversational marketing really about live chat tools, like chatbots and messenger apps like WhatsApp? The answer is yes. And, no.
Yes, consumers are certainly warming to AI-driven customer service in the form of chats. In fact, I think I read just recently that somewhere around 80% of consumers would rather interact with a chatbot than a human being. (Which I personally find a big unnerving). This doesn’t mean that your social media marketing can’t be conversational marketing, especially given the social listening tools that are out there today. With the proper tools, your social can be conversational, and that’s exactly what you need if you’re going to build and maintain relationships with your brand.
In addition to its beauty in providing a forum for conversation, your social media can do a whole lot more through listening. You can listen, for instance, to what your competitors are doing. Are they offering new products or services? Are they discounting? Keeping an eye on them obviously provides you with the opportunity to respond directly… and quickly. Another benefit is the ability to watch how consumers respond to competitor messaging. Perhaps they’re looking unfavorably on a new product that a competitor is offering. You’ll know not to make the same mistake. By measuring engagement with your post, you can more accurately gauge what type of content your audience is interested in. Posts around products, for instance, may not glean much engagement while posts around your participation in charitable community events do. There’s no better way to keep a conversation going than to interact with members of your audience by discussing topics that interest them.
Now, we talked a bit earlier about tools. Last but not least, when it comes to the beauties of social listening, there are a host of options out there that can make it easy for the very lean-staffed bank marketing department. I found this HubSpot blog on the subject extremely useful. Of course, each option comes with its own unique set of benefits… from simply providing you with the ability to schedule posts across all of your social media platforms with basic analytics to “managing your entire social strategy from a single dashboard.” Of course, as always, you get what you pay for as the saying goes, and these tools are no exception; pricing ranges from absolutely free to nearly $900/month. The good news for community banks, I think, is that there are solid options here, enabling you to put a listening strategy in place “without breaking the bank,” as it were!
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
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