What is Social Listening?
Social listening is the idea of gaining business intelligence by listening and researching customers, media, employees, competitors, and other influencers. Active social listeners are provided with ideas for new products and services, as well as new opportunities to reach business goals. Social listening is also useful for identifying poor customer feedback as issues or crises.
“Social listening keeps you plugged into all the right channels” (Waxman, 2017, Section 1, Paragraph 3)
Most relevant places to start social listening for your business:
- Using relevant hashtags through Twitter
- Using keyword searches to find relevant terms for your business through Google Trends
- Customer service reps and sales reps are also a wealth of knowledge for social listening business intelligence
Using Social Listening to Understand Your Customers
One of the most effective uses for social listening is to use it to understand your customers. By having an up to date understanding of their needs, it is much easier to have fresh new products and services available to keep your customers involved and keep your business relevant. Social listening can be used to monitor feedback for your business, but also it can be used to hear feedback about your competitors and things they are missing that you can provide.
An example of this for a golf course perspective would be looking at feedback for a nearby golf course from a millennial golfer; the feedback may read “@ABCGolfCourse had an extremely narrow beer menu, get with the program it’s 2018 and #CraftBeer is everywhere! (except @ABCGolfCourse).” Now your course can use this feedback to see the demand for craft beer at your golf course. Another effective action would be to reply to the disapproving customer of ABC with your extensive beer list to win their business.
Another great way to understand your customers is to imagine things from their perspective. In Martin Waxman’s video “Social Listening for Marketers” he identifies some key questions to ask yourself about your customers:
- What motivates them?
- What is their day like?
- What are their challenges and goals?
- What is your relation? (Transactional or Aspirational?)
(Waxman, 2017, Section 2, Paragraph 2)
How to Get Started With Social Listening
The first step to social listening is searching for places to listen. At this point, it is important to narrow your results to find customers more related to the product or service you sell. This can be done by using hashtags and keywords pertaining to your business’ geographic location or specific words that relate to your business. An excellent search for a golf professional in Edmonton looking to find information about golfers in the area would be #EdmontonGolf or #YEGGolf on Twitter.
Each search network uses their own algorithm related to you to filter results; the best way to get real results when finding information through search is to log out of all related search accounts and clear your cache. By doing this you will be closer to seeing what your customers are seeing about your business. Other great search tools discussed in Martin Waxman’s video “Social Listening for Marketers” would be:
With all of these search options, the key things they allow you to filter results by are: time, sentiment, keywords and phrases, demographics, and geography.
With companies branching out to so many different social media platforms nowadays it is inefficient to monitor each individually. Now there are dashboards available to allow you to monitor all aspects of your social media presence from one page. The top dashboard used by small and large businesses is Hootsuite; it allows you to schedule posts, measure interaction, and manage your social media presence in one place.
Social Listening in Action
Social listening in action represents three key uses: social listening for research and insights, social listening for customer service, and social listening for an issue and crisis management.
Social listening can improve your capabilities for collecting research and insights about your customers. A great use of social media polling through Twitter would be to find services that your customers may want to be included in the price of your services. By posting the question and listening to the feedback you can gain a wealth of information about your customer’s expectations. It is important to use social listening before, during, and after key events in your industry; this is generally when ideas about your company and competitors are most discussed.
Social listening can also improve your business’s customer service capabilities. By making your posts public it allows your responses to issues to be available for others who may be having the same issue. By doing this it shows that you are there for support and also takes some of the work off of your hands because it allows others to self-troubleshoot. It is important to reply quickly and provide valuable content to your followers in order to build trust and gain their loyalty. If your business utilizes social listening correctly for customer service it will showcase how responsive and caring you are as a company.
The last use of social listening is to help identify an issue in comparison to a crisis. The biggest difference between the two is the threat of long-term damage to your company associated with a crisis. Both situations are equally important and social listening acts as the early warning tool to allow a business to act quickly. When identifying an issue “early enough you can take responsibility, apologize sincerely and try to resolve it as quickly as you can” (Waxman, 2017, Section 4, Paragraph 3).
How Social Listening Will Benefit Golf Professionals
Social listening is a marketing must for all golf professionals; it allows you to monitor your customers and follow conversations throughout the golf industry. This social listening will also have both positives and negatives, but how you utilize the insight gathered will be what sets you apart. It is important to tread quietly on the social media network and pay close attention to the customers, media, employees, competitors, and other influencers that you interact with. By being an active social listener it allows golf courses and professionals alike to get that much closer to achieving business goals.
Waxman, M. (2017, June 5th ). Social Listening for Marketers [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.lynda.com/HootSuite-tutorials/Next-steps/546104/621995-4.html