Social listening is a necessary structural pillar of any brand’s marketing strategy today. Before the social-mobile revolution, brands focused a lot of their marketing on retailers. While that is still done, focusing marketing efforts directly on consumers is increasingly necessary. Consumers expect it, and brands that do it generally see better results than with a mix of legacy marketing tactics.
Social media brings brands into direct contact with their customers.
Social listening involves monitoring social media platforms for mentions of your brand and related keywords and tuning in to the conversation. It also involves participating in the conversation by doing things like answering consumer questions. If someone posts, for example, “Will Brand X’s new shoe be available in black?” your social media team can answer that question directly, engaging one-on-one with someone who has expressed interest in your brand.
Stay Up-to-Date on Brand Mentions in Social Media
Naturally you need to monitor your own social media pages, but what if consumers talk among themselves about your brand? What if they Tweet something about your brand, but not directly “@” your brand? You can use any number of social media monitoring tools to learn when this happens. Products like HootSuite can help you monitor social media platforms for your brand name, product names, industry buzzwords, taglines, branded hashtags, other relevant hashtags, and even competitors’ brand and product names (to gain insight and learn from their successes and missteps).
Influencer Marketing Combats Ad Blocking
Words praising your brand or product from someone who is considered an “influencer” can be priceless. Influencers are people on social media who have plenty of loyal followers. Similarly to how haute couture designers dress celebrities for the Academy Awards to get their brand in the news, getting to know influencers who love your brand can be remarkably effective.
For CPG brand development in particular, the earned media value of influencer marketing in the US alone during the first half of 2015 was $14.29 for every dollar spent on paid media! But you cannot just jump in, identify influencers, and ply them with products. It is important to follow them and get to know them first to ensure they are the right fit for your brand and products.
Consumers Want Their “Best Selves” Reflected in Brands They Choose
People want the brands they choose to reflect the best versions of themselves.
Your brand’s own social media presence is a critical component of social listening. People want to see the best version of themselves reflected in the brands and products they select, and it is harder for them to do that when your brand does not share its values and relevant content on social media.
Conveying your brand values most clearly and appropriately requires that first you get to know your social media audience thoroughly. Your analytics can tell you a great deal about them, but you have to understand how to use analytics, and you have to track them over time, because times, markets, and tastes all evolve. Your values, however, provide a steadying influence over time.
Think Engagement, not Distribution
If you look at social media as just another free soapbox from which to broadcast sales pitches, you will have a hard time benefiting from social listening. Social media is not just about distributing valuable content (though there is definitely a place for that), but also about carrying on a conversation with the people on the various platforms.
Social media platforms have always been about sharing, and sharing does not just go in one direction. If people on social media see your pages as another version of your paid advertising, they will tune out. They want a two-way conversation, and the brands that give this to social media users benefit from it. As with any conversation, listening is the key to success with social media.
CPG brand development is not only about paid social media marketing, but it is not exclusively about social media marketing either. However, social media marketing is becoming an increasingly important dimension of CPG brand development, offering enormous benefits to brands that do it well.
Social listening is how you tune in to the social media zeitgeist surrounding your products, brand, and industry, and it offers you valuable information about who your target audience is, what they want, and what they do not want. Your brand’s social media strategy has to include social listening if you want to be confident you are hitting all the right notes as you engage with consumers on social platforms.