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Social Media Listening Rises in Importance & Value

social media listening toolsSocial media listening became more prevalent among corporations and non-profit organizations in 2016. As more consumers use social media to learn about and comment about products, more marketers are turning to social media listening to complete marketing research, promote their goods and services, and engage customers online. In 2017, social media listening will become even more sophisticated and brands that up their game will gain a competitive advantage.

“Brands need to further incorporate social listening into their larger marketing and social media strategy,” says Ulrik Bo Larsen, CEO and founder of customer experience platform Falcon.io. “Those who fail to do so risk falling out of sync with, and failing to grow, their core audience.”

Increasingly Sophisticated Listening Tools

Social media listening, also called social media monitoring, became both more sophisticated and more accepted last year, Larsen writes in MarketingProfs. Automated sentiment analysis, which grades social media comments on a positive, neutral, negative scale, improved as advances in natural-language processing improved their analysis of social media comments.

However, despite recent improvements of automated programs, says Larsen, trained human analysists still provide far more accurate assessment of social media comments that are prone to slang, sarcasm and nuanced meaning. Rather than embracing automated analysis wholesale, more brands will pursue a hybrid approach to social media analysis this year. They’ll hire human analysts to review and verify a sampling of brand mentions.

Social media monitoring technology also became better at analyzing consumers’ intent, Larsen points out. Brands can better determine the consumer’s stage in the buying cycle – if they’re thinking they might like a new product, actively shopping and prepared to purchase, or if they’re dissatisfied with a current provider and ready consider an alternative.

Learning about Purchase Decisions

Social media listening will become increasing important in 2017 as social media assumes a greater role in the consumer experience. Social media networks are adding purchase buttons that allow users to complete purchases without leaving the platform or app. Pinterest has buyable pins, and Facebook has “Get a Quote,”  “Book a Time,” and “Shop Now” call-to-action buttons.

“If social media strategy isn’t a priority for your company, then you’re missing out on insight into a huge portion of the modern customer journey—not to mention the unique ways you can engage with current and potential customers,” Larson states.

Companies expect to increase their spending on social media marketing and invest more resources into social media analytics in an attempt to overcome the measurement shortcomings. As social media continues to become more popular, companies that can best analyze social media data and gain insights will obtain a competitive advantage.

A Wealth of Beneficial Information

Social media listening provides several different types information that can help marketers. It can help:

  • Find influencers who amplify your brand message.
  • Better understand your products’ strengths and weakness.
  • Understand when consumers are active online, what networks they prefer and what type of content they consume.
  • Find and resolve problems with products and customer service issues before they can grow into PR problems.
  • Uncover competitors’ strategies and weakness and emerging trends in consumer preferences.

“To customers, social media can be an outlet for true self-expression. To businesses, it can be a marketing goldmine filled with valuable customer information. With this in mind, it is important to use social listening for your business,” recommends Juntae DeLane, founder of Digital Branding Institute. “By understanding who is talking about your organization, you are able to gain true audience insight that goes beyond content clicks and sharing.”

Bottom Line: Social media listening will become increasingly prevalent and beneficial in 2017 due to advances in social media monitoring tools and growing numbers of consumers researching and purchasing products online. Brands that pursue deeper insights into customers’ thinking through sophisticated listening tools stand to benefit the most.