The Paradox of Social Media Listening

Let’s get straight to the point. As human beings, we believe that talking and sharing proves how smart we are, when actually, the opposite is true. Listening is the true source of power. When you take the time to quiet your mind and stop thinking about what you’re going to say next, you’re actually open minded and ready to listen and observe not just what is being said, but what it means to you and your business.

Marketers are notoriously bad listeners. A lot of that has to do with their natural communication style which is expressive and interactive. Most sales and marketing people learn by engaging with others, tossing around ideas, brainstorming and sharing experiences. While this may be useful in developing content or campaigns, it’s not especially useful when you’re trying to uncover what truly matters to customers. For this, you need to LISTEN.

Social Media Listening –Your Most Effective Market Research Tool


Social listening is the process of tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences. It’s more than watching @mentions and comments pour in via your social profiles, mobile apps or blogs. If you’re only paying attention to notifications, you’re missing a huge group of people that are talking about you, your brand and your product. —

One of the most profound features of social media is its capability for allowing natural, authentic and FREE voice of the customer research. If you simply identify your ideal customer and watch what they share, you have the ability to uncover million dollar insights daily. Social media listening is a market research tool like no other and yet small business owners ignore it.

Social Media Listening is the Cure for People Who Hate Selling

Have you ever noticed how the very same businesses?who shy away from sales, who feel “uncomfortable” pushing their product or service on people because they think that they are persuading prospect?to buy something they don’t want or need at a price they can’t afford, are the very same people who are pushing their products and service on social media?

By simply putting together an infrastructure designed to listen to your prospects and customers, listening to their conversations and engaging in the conversation without selling or being pushy, just offering suggestions and solutions, you are actually selling.

3 Kinds of Social Listening Every Small Business Should Have and How to Implement Them

The reason you’re not listening as well as you should be isn’t because you’re a bad marketer or business owner, it’s because social media listening can be unbelievably overwhelming and confusing. The easiest thing to do is to break it down into categories.

Here are three basic categories of social listening that I found really useful in this article:?Value of Social Listeningvia @SethGrimes. I’ve added some additional how-to’s and tools for each category so that you can get started with your social listening strategy – TODAY.

Strategic listening ? for market research & consumer insights producing aggregate views that study interests and reactions within demographic categories and market segments.

This is where you should start with your listening strategy. Your first step, as you’d expect, is to identify your ideal customer. Work out a profile or persona so that you know?who you’re looking for and look for ways to group those people.

[thrive_text_block color=”blue” headline=”How to Develop Buyer Personas”]


Identify a core set of?goals and challenges that your ideal customer is dealing with so that you can start a broad listening campaign. For example “social media scheduling” can be a typical challenge or “carpet cleaning” if you’re dealing with consumers.

Now, you’re ready to brainstorm the different platforms and the different ways that you can start grouping and listening to these ideal customers.

Here are just a few ideas of what you could include in your listening strategy:

  • Facebook Groups
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Twitter Lists
  • Tweet Chats


Reactive listening for customer engagement aimed at resolving issues, one-on-one.

If you’ve heard the phrase “social media monitoring” used interchangeably with social listening, that’s being aimed at this category of “reactive” listening.

Here are a couple examples of “reactive” listening from my own experience:








As you can see here — Sears was practicing reactive listening — seeing what was being posted, noting the “sentiment” (whether the tone was positive or negative) and responding quickly.

To accomplish this kind of listening, you’ll want to be sure that you have a person dedicated to watch your social streams. In addition, if your company or brand is big enough, it may help to have specific “service” accounts dedicated to listening to customer issues. Be careful — as you can see from my example, I Tweeted to @Sears and @SearsCares responded back. They have two accounts and are watching both of them.

You’ll definitely need some tools to help you listen to your customers.

Start with Google Alerts – it’s FREE and extremely effective.



Try Google Alerts if you’re looking for an easy, but barebones, option. It will scan publications for keyword mentions, delivering email alerts according to the frequency you choose. You can filter results by region, language and source including blogs, forums and news sources. —Via

One of the most affordable tools that’s available for small business owners is Buffer’s Respond Social listening tool.

respond-1Retroactive listening supporting customer experience management the study of customer perceptions at the many brand-interaction points that constitute the customer journey.

Don’t let this description scare you! While many brands have complicated ways to deal with this, all you’ll need is a simple tool like HootSuite.


You can create a live stream for each keyword you want to track, generating a grid of content that shows basic engagement data. You can also flag posts and assign team members to address them, making it a go-to tool for large social teams. –Via

You have to have all three in order to get the best value for the time, resources and money spent. Don’t look at these activities as solely marketing activities. Look at them as sales activities, because the way you conduct them will impact the impression you make on prospects, customers and even friends of prospects and customers.


Great #SocialListening Tips from the Pros

You’ve heard what I had to say about social listening – now let’s see what some of the best brains in small business have to say.



How can you use social listening to drive traffic to your site or store?


How can you use social listening to identify and engage with influencers?

What are some ways of engaging with a competitor’s customer without being sleazy?


What tools do you use for #socialmedia listening?



What are some creative ways to use social listening to engage with your audience?