When can social listening revolutionise your business? 

Estimated read time 3 min read

Here’s an interesting question: is your business genuinely listening to its customers? Your initial instinct might be to immediately answer in the affirmative — but listening is something that we can often be wrongly convinced we are doing.

In practice, when someone is letting us know their thoughts, we can be so preoccupied with planning our own response that we lose sight of much of what is being told to us.

This could help to explain why, in one UK study mentioned by Digital Doughnut, 68% of customers were found to have had adverse phone experiences with leading financial services brands. Thankfully, social listening could help you to improve how you connect with your customers.

What is social listening?

That is an understandable question to ask, and CustomerThink has the following answer: “In the digital realm, this refers to analysing mentions and trends around your brand on social networking sites.”

What is social listening

CustomerThink elaborates that social listening “tells you what the discussions around your brand are, along with how and where they’re happening”, and can be used to “gauge the social sentiment around your brand.”

If social listening still sounds like hard work to you, rest assured that, by setting up what is known as a social listening tool, you can give yourself the means of speedily amassing relevant data from multiple social media sites.

Once you have established a better insight into what people are saying about your brand and its industry, you can use this information to inform your future corporate direction — such as your decisions over what products and services you will develop next.

What makes social listening especially effective?

Of course, there are many different ways you can reach out to members of your company’s target audience. You could, for example, arrange a few interviews with prospects. Just half an hour on the phone in each instance can suffice for garnering a wide range of eye-opening insights.

However, even if you let these people know in advance that you are contacting them specifically in an attempt to find out as much as possible about how your company could better serve them, you could find that analogue methods of ‘reaching out’ have disconcerting limits.

While businesses have tended to rely on surveys, focus groups, and research reports for assessing customers’ opinions about specific products or services, MIT Sloan Management Review warns that “these traditional approaches have several shortcomings.”

The site specifies these examples: “Sample sizes are limited and subject to bias. Studies take time to organise, and results quickly become dated. Moreover, what people say often differs from what they do, like complaining about discount airlines but using them all the same.”

What makes social listening especially effective

Conversely, through employing social listening, you can not only gain insights of greater accuracy but also act on research findings more quickly — all without incurring the comparatively high expense that can often come from pursuing traditional research methods.

MIT Sloan Management Review enthuses that the practice of social listening is “already overturning how consumer product companies develop, market, and package their products”.


Sarah Cantley

Editorial Head at UK Blog for Business & Startup.

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