The internet is a true goldmine when it comes to customers’ opinions on brands, products, and services. As of 2021, every minute, a staggering 66,000 videos and photos are added on Instagram, 510,000 comments are published on Facebook, and 4.3 million searches are run in Google.
And yet, there are relatively few businesses that use insights from these channels to make informed decisions. One potential reason? They might not be aware of the existence of advanced social listening tools.
In this article, we’re going to discuss how to approach social listening. We’ll start by explaining what social listening is and how it’s different from social media monitoring. Next, we’ll share some of the top business use cases. Finally, we'll explain why AI-powered tools are the best solution, and how they can help bring your branding and customer experience to the next level.
What is Social Listening?
Simply put, social listening can be broken down into two steps:
- Step 1: The first step entails monitoring social media profiles for mentions of your organization, rivals, products, and keywords that are relevant to your industry and business.
- Step 2: The second step entails analyzing the information gathered in Step 1 for ways to apply what you learned to your business and product. It might be as simple as responding to a pleased customer, or as significant as completely changing your brand positioning.
The goal is to scan the internet on a large scale using an algorithm, to discover what people are saying about your company. When paired with AI, social listening is far more effective in supporting the growth of your company, product, and brand.
However, social listening is NOT to be confused with social monitoring.
Social Monitoring vs Social Listening
Let's avoid the confusion - social listening is very different from social monitoring. As can be seen above, the ‘listening’ aspect contains two parts, whereas ‘monitoring’ merely does Step 1.
Social monitoring alerts you of a problem that needs to be fixed. Meanwhile, social listening gives you the context behind that problem, helping you understand why it’s an issue in the first place, what was meant by the user who reported it, and what the best way to deal with the problem is.
Without the analysis and appropriate actions, your brand will be unable to satisfy its customers' demands. Social listening bridges this gap by unearthing the underlying causes of social conversations and implementing long-term strategy adjustments.
Without Step 2, all you’re left with is social engagements that are full of noise, creating too many touchpoints for manual supervision. Both steps are crucial, but the biggest benefit lies in combining the two for the most accurate, effective, and insightful results.
AI is able to identify certain keywords that allocate the message/conversation to a certain subject. These might be used to tag things like "complaints," "product concerns," or "technical assistance."
The best AI tools for social listening are able to recognize images through computer vision. This lets brands detect not only the contents of a video or photo, but also its potential emotional charge. This is especially useful for social media listening, where graphic content is particularly prevalent.
AI-powered social listening tools employ NLP (Natural Language Processing) to identify and interpret emotions. This is something basic tools are incapable of, as people still need to manually go through the material and categorize it.
You may automate alerts for crisis-related phrases as a proactive method of detecting potential brand catastrophes before they occur. A design company, for instance, could create alerts for words like "copyright infringement", "design theft", and so on.
As you can likely already tell, AI’s social listening benefits are astronomical. Let’s expand on them further in the next section.
The Advantages of AI Social Listening Tools
There is a noticeable difference in the results of social listening tools that use AI software, as opposed to those that don’t. Let’s focus on what the former bring to the table.
Put the Information Into Context
There is 1.145 trillion MB of data generated daily. Additionally, research shows that every minute, 511,914 comments and 293,000 status updates are posted on Facebook, while 6,000 tweets are generated on Twitter.
This ranges from text to video to photos, which cannot be readily integrated into structured databases or spreadsheets. However, AI-powered data tools can make sense of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data to generate important discoveries from data that was once unintelligible.
What's more, such tools may utilize sentiment analysis technology to determine how your consumers feel about your business. Without the help of AI-powered social listening, a problem might snowball into a PR disaster before businesses even notice it.
Take Advantage of Real-Time Interactions
One of the greatest methods to communicate and engage with your consumers is through social media. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that companies are integrating customer support and care into their social listening plan.
Conversational chatbots on your website and social networking sites can improve your consumer experience by resolving problems promptly and addressing inquiries and requests 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
With AI technology, you can create your own opportunities by identifying mentions of your brand. It’s able to scan all the data available to determine whether consumers are connected to your brand or not.
Additionally, it allows you to sift through all the irrelevant information and reply only to the people who mentioned your brand. Thus beginning valuable communication with the clients who matter.
Analyze Visual Content
Cisco predicted that by 2021, 80% of global internet traffic would be video. Video content is especially popular on social media platforms, so you can't afford to ignore it and only focus on text mentions. After all, imagine the potential brand damage coming from a discerned customer recording a video and sharing it with their networks on TikTok or Instagram.
Artificial Intelligence can utilize image recognition technology to identify logos, brand names, and various other items. This is invaluable, as you'll be able to detect brand-related content even if the name isn’t mentioned explicitly in the text. You’ll also grasp the context of a discussion about your company name, products, or services.
Advanced AI systems can even go as far as to identify the emotions and the sentiment that the user is portraying. You can then gather extensive knowledge into what your consumers truly think about your business and product.
To summarize, AI-powered social listening tools can inform your marketing strategy and help you understand your target audience in ways that weren't previously possible. This kind of feedback will be crucial when creating customer profiles, generating high-quality sales, and defining other marketing opportunities.
AI Tools for Social Listening
There are various different tools that you can use to harness the power of AI for social listening. Here are some of the best ones:
SentiOne allows you to keep track of how people speak about your business online. It helps you sift through the thousands, if not millions of records – not only those published to social media, but also blogs, news outlets, and review sites.
Through the use of AI, SentiOne helps you make sense of audience insights and understand whether you’re looking mostly at positive, neutral, or negative user sentiment.
Socialbakers use AI to analyze mentions and brand-related content on social media. By pointing to the most significant topic trends and recurring questions, the platform helps businesses collect information about their audience, competitors, and more. The solution also integrates with customer support and community management software to help increase customer loyalty and the quality of customer care.
Mention facilitates real-time search and sets an alert that provides results continuously. With custom plans, you can also gain access to historical data upon request. You can also use this tool to search for influencers and track their future activities directly in your CRM software.
Last, but certainly not least, introducing you to the amazing new world of AI-integrated social listening would be incomplete without mentioning Levity’s solution for proactive and reactive social listening.
Levity allows you to track engagement or friction between keywords, identify potential target audiences and influencers, and establish a baseline for your brand. The tool also helps you understand which of the thousands of mentions deserve attention, so you can become part of the discussion your customers are having as it happens.
Why Social Listening is Important and What it Can Do for Your Business
As mentioned earlier, social listening is so much more than the numbers that you see with social monitoring tools; it allows you to UNDERSTAND these insights and implement them in your business strategy.
Here are some of the ways using an AI-powered social listening platform can help your business:
Engage With Customers
Social listening gives you the opportunity to interact with your current and previous customers about your brand, or even help you manage service requests.
But it's about far more than replies to individual comments or queries. With the right tool, you get to see patterns, trends, and requests that you can address right away. When clients feel heard out, it builds trust and engagement, which is a key ingredient to brand success.
If you're seeing a lot of positive engagement, social listening can help you understand why. Your clients will tell you a lot about what they enjoy and what makes your brand stand out, which can assist you in future product adaptations or campaigns.
But sometimes the social sentiment isn't always positive. Again, the insights provided by these tools will be your clue as to why. When sentiments are low, examine your conversations and learn how to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Hearing your clients out and spotting the early signs of a crisis will help you make sure you never end up with a PR disaster on your hands.
Spy on Competition
Yes, you’ve read correctly! Not only can you track what your consumers are saying about your brand, but also what they say about your competitors. This can provide you with valuable information on where your company fits into the marketplace.
By knowing whether your competitors are launching new products, developing innovative marketing campaigns, or going through a crisis of their own, all in real-time, you can identify and explore new possibilities for improving your services.
Find New Leads
Being able to identify and resolve customers' pain points, as well as exceed your competitors’ offering creates the opportunity to acquire new, brand-loyal customers.
The more value you can add, the more invaluable you will become. In the long run, social listening will help you establish yourself as the authority figure when it's time for clients to make a purchase decision.
Verify How Your Brand is Perceived
AI-powered social listening is the equivalent of consumer, product, and marketing gold. Keeping track of the industry and your target audience gives great insight into how your brand is perceived, what is working, and – very importantly – what isn't.
Can you solve a common problem with your product by adapting it or adding new features? Or, maybe, you could come up with a new product altogether, in addition to resolving real issues? Once you’ve identified the angle, make sure to use a targeted marketing campaign to let your leads know!
Stay on Top of Trends
Finally, industry influencers are important people to connect with because they can impact how their followers and fans view your brand and your competitors.
User-generated content is key for social proof. By using social listening, you can find individuals who already adore your company and are extolling your virtues on social media. These are typical brand supporters. Reach out to them, seek ways to work together, and be on the lookout for possibilities to collaborate!
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Listening
Establishing your needs, wants, target audience, and business goals will help you clarify whether or not you can benefit from social listening. Here are a few questions that we recommend asking yourself:
- What is my objective (monitoring a new product launch, raising engagement, boosting brand sentiment, etc.)?
- What image do I want people to have of my brand?
- What kind of conversations do I want to take part in?
- What aspects of social listening do I want to focus on?
- Who are my customers and/or target audience, and what social media platforms do they use?
- What type of content and topics are people responding the most to?
- What will I do with positive/negative feedback?
Preparation is and always will be vital if you want to reap social listening benefits to the fullest!
We hope that this piece helped you gain a thorough understanding of what social listening is, what benefits AI-powered tools entail, and how they can benefit your business.
Are you ready to get started with AI-powered social listening? Learn more on how Levity can help you make the most of reactive and proactive insights!