Isn’t it cool how James Bond always gets the bad guy? That’s what happens when you are an elite spy. You may not be an international spy that represents your country, but that does not mean you cannot be a spy for your online business!
So what does spying have to do with your ecommerce business? Tons, but we’ll call it social listening or social monitoring from here on out. In today’s post I will giving you a run-down of how and why social listening should be part of your business strategy.
What is Social Listening, A.K.A. Social Monitoring?
Social listening and monitoring are exactly what they sound like – listening to conversations on various social media networks (social media monitoring) and websites – to understand what is being said about you, your competition, and/or on your market.
We’re not in 2005, so luckily you don’t need to manually search keywords whenever you want to see what is being said. You can use the various tools available (as will be mentioned toward the end), to filter what conversations/mentions are relevant to helping you grow your business.
By using an automated tool to get some much needed information on what’s going on in various social circles, you can gain instant access to any and all negative vibes regarding your brand, leverage positive comments, and dive deeper into the market, to build a stronger online business by constantly knowing what is going on.
The American restaurant Arby’s used social listening to score a grand slam back in 2014 by using Tweetdeck – a social media listening/monitoring tool for Twitter – to cash in on a hat that recording artist Pharrell was wearing.
Now it’s your time to cash in on your listening skills.
Why Social Listening Must Be an Integral Part of Your Business Strategy
Conversations, and communication in general, are moved by what we are able to grasp via listening, and by how we respond to what is being said.
“The art of conversation lies in listening.” — Malcom Forbes
So why should you listen, and not just carry on with just doing what you have been doing until now? Here are 7 reasons why every eCommerce business should make social listening part of their ongoing business strategy.
1. Attract New Customers
Depending on what niche you are in, you most likely find yourself using different social media networks, advertisements on Google or other social sites, influencers, and SEO to attract new customers. The thing is that attracting new customers via all of these different channels can take time, knowledge, and money that you may not have available.
Even with time, knowledge, and money things can go unnoticed because you can’t be everywhere on the internet at one time. For example, we were not using a tool for social listening a few months ago, and unfortunately we missed an opportunity to attract new customers.
Had we jumped into this conversation in a timely manner, we could have gained yet another new member for our growing community.
Today we are happily locked in and listening, and now fortunate enough to notice when there is an opportunity to join a discussion.
Let’s take for example someone that sells wooden watches. The number of keywords and brands active in this niche is growing and becoming a hit. Do you want to spend a full day searching Google, Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram for every time it’s mentioned? Here’s the answer, no you don’t.
Using Google Alerts (check out a few other tools by scrolling down to the bottom) you can easily set up different settings for a variety of different keywords so that you are constantly up to date with what’s being said.
Customizing the settings to show you specific results, and combining different keywords sure does beat randomly searching Twitter, in which case you will get a mixed bag or search results that are only sometimes relevant.
For better results:
- Narrow down the keywords that you are monitoring so that you are not dealing with unnecessary noise, but don’t get too specific that you are only getting a small sample size
- Track your competition to see if there is anything negative going on. Try [competitor’s brand name] can’t or [competitor] isn’t/doesn’t. See what they are not doing to fulfill the customer’s wants and needs
2. Customer Service
Once it was said that all PR is good PR. It’s time to let you in a news update: not all PR is good PR. The internet is full of good and bad thoughts on every brand – every brand! Social listening enables you to see that.
For instance, if you were mentioned like this, wouldn’t you have wanted to leverage this on your site, Facebook, or in some other fashion?
The above case is one in which the mentioned brand did not lose by not reacting, however by knowing about it, they could have either responded or leveraged it to make themselves look even better.
On the other end of the spectrum, Starbucks, had they known, probably would have liked to respond to this thread, titled “WTF Starbucks” that was upvoted 69 times in Reddit (and seen by tens more).
You want to nip these issues before they turn into a wrecking ball. In a study by Zendesk (one of the leading authorities on customer service), it was shown that of B2B and B2C customers, 66% and 52% respectively, stopped buying after a bad customer service interaction.
Taking care of an issue or ticket that gets to you via email or on one of your social media profiles is the easy part. It’s the issues that don’t ever make it to you that make even more noise, and that’s exactly where social listening steps in.
From a simple Twitter search of “don’t buy from” I easily found various brands that were getting plenty of bad PR! Using tools that notify you of these statuses enables you to minimize any potential damage before it gets out of control!
For better results:
- Track the different names or references for your company. For example, we track StoreYa and StoreYaCom, StoreYa.com
- Track the name of your most popular products or all of the products you sell
- Track negative comments, like “Don’t buy from …”
If you are actively using social listening in your business strategy then you have the power to make sure that you don’t miss out on purchases that are begging to be made.
To make the pre-sales social listening process a piece of cake, make sure to track your brand name in any and every variation as well as the names of your products (the same tips that we offer for social listening in customer service).
Had we been listening then, we could have capitalized on these questions.
Don’t worry though, we’ll catch it now :). We did not get tagged, but we still caught it!
3. Identify Influencers
Discovering the “big voices” in your niche is not a problem, as you are probably quite familiar with them. However, depending on the size of your business, there could potentially be another hundred (or more) influencers on the web, whether on social media or on their own sites, that could do wonders for your business.
The problem is that you have not discovered all of them, but again, that isn’t completely your fault. To find influencers that can increase your sales and popularity in the market, you’d probably have to dedicate a few days to searching every social media platform and various search engines for every keyword that could have an effect on your business.
Does that sound fun, or productive? No, it does not. Manual research is necessary before you launch, but once you’ve launched your business, and need to dedicate time to customers and growth, putting time aside for this task is not always doable.
For example, if you sell leather bags and need to find an influencer, how would you go about finding all the possible influencers without social listening tools? How can you properly filter through 101,000,000 search results efficiently? I Don’t think it is possible.
Searching the web just isn’t a productive option.
For better results:
- Who’s covering you already? Track the title of one of your press releases or an announcement you sent out via email or social media about a new product.
- To find relevant influencer marketers in your industry, use these tools: XXXX
- Use social listening tools that are targeted toward helping you find these people
- Use keywords like “influencer”, “blogger, “ X Twitter/Instagram followers”
For more on reaching influencers, check this out (proven to work): 5 Amazing Outreach Templates That Get Results From Influencers.
4. Understanding the Market
Here’s are a couple of big name companies that went from the top of the food chain to the bottom: Nintendo and BlackBerry. Both of them fell behind the rapid changes that took place in their markets, and today hardly resemble what they once were.
By being a business that uses social listening, you take a lot of heavy lifting out of necessary market research. You can now listen to tweets, conversations in online groups, and social statuses talking about how the market should look based on what people want.
Maker’s Mark was considering making a change to their product, that they thought was something that the changing market required. It turned out that they were wrong, and luckily had their ears open and eyes on the web to see that their customers, and the market as a whole, did not agree with their potential change.
For better results:
- Track time periods, such as [X winter 2015]
- Track your market based on customer types, such as millennials, retirees, new-parents, etc.
- Track spending and income details for your target customer. Spending habits change!
If you understand the market, coming up with the right products is no problem. Here’s a bit of help from us: 10 Ways to Come Up With New Product Ideas.
5. Get Ahead of Consumer Trends (A.K.A Business Development)
There isn’t much of a market for summer clothing right now in the northern hemisphere. However, now is just around the time that we will all start to understand what will be “in” next summer. Obviously you won’t have a crystal clear understanding until we’re into the end of the first quarter of 2016, but now is the time to start.
Without having to do any work, you can get automatic email updates on what the near future holds for your market. What would I do if I was selling bathing suits? I’d create an alert for related keywords and create a spreadsheet that exemplifies the different trends that I can expect to see.
For better results:
- Start early – The early bird gets the worm!
- Monitor products in your niche that you don’t sell to see if they are trending
- Segment your different types of customers
- Monitor influencer resources, regardless of whether they’re working with you
6. Watching Your Competitors
In a recent guest post, knowing your competition (and the market as a whole) came up as one of the four corners of starting an eCommerce website.
Checking in on your competitor’s’ site every once in awhile just doesn’t cut it – there’s a reason corporations use corporate espionage to get a leg up on the competition. You want to know, as often as you can, as much as you can about the ones on the other side (the dark side).
If you track your competitors you’ll be able to know what they do well and what they are struggling with, and accordingly, either target new customers (as mentioned earlier) or make changes to your site or business to capitalize on what you have learned.
Just as you listen to your own customers, you can and should do the same regarding your competition. Listening to what your competitors can of course help you attract new customers (as pointed out at the start), as well as help you discover what your competitor does which elicits a very positive or a very negative response so that you can use this with your own customers.
For better results:
- Track their brand names in both a positive and negative tone
- Monitor the personal social media accounts of management and marketing team members
Using Facebook Page Insights (this can be found in your business page dashboard under “Overview” by scrolling to the bottom):
Last but not least…
7. User Generated Content
It would be fantastic if you got tagged or notified every time someone shared an image or some other sort of rich digital content of themselves with your product! That however is not reality. It’s not always on someone’s mind to tag you when they just got a new garment in the mail, but you can bet that it is on Facebook or Instagram.
Use relevant tools for each of the different social media platforms so that you are able to use the content when it matters, and not six months after it was posted.
For instance, yesterday (October 27th was “National Chocolate Day”). I hope Godiva found these awesome tweets (notice there are no direct tweets to the brand). They could use the images anytime, but over the next 24 hours these tweets could make their social status jump even higher.
Social Listening Tools
- Mention: track keywords across the web and social media platforms including Instagram
- Google Alerts: get notified for keyword mentions across the web
- Social Mention: trending keywords in social media
- SimilarWeb: get to know your competition
- TalkWalker: see spikes for influencers, see what’s working for competitors, and understand market trends
- FollwerWonk: a tool from Moz to help you better understand your followers and who you’re following on Twitter
- Tweetdeck: real-time tracking of what is being said on Twitter
- Keyhole: this is a great tool for keeping an eye on the ever popular hashtags that are making waves across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook
- Commun.it: aside from the social media scheduling you can use it as a tool to track your competition on Twitter
If you need help getting to know some of these tools a little bit better, check out these great posts:
StoreYa → 62 FREE Tools for eCommerce Shop Owners
Social Listening Summed Up
A) Decide what are your goals
B) Create a list of keywords
C) Pick the right tools
D) Dedicate time to using the results
Now you know the benefits of social listening (and the identical twin “social monitoring”), so really all that is left to do is to get started! If you have any questions or comments, we welcome your comments in the comment section below. If not, good luck and hopefully you’ll find yourself making progress at the same, quick pace as Bond.
Ty is a digital marketing enthusiast that can't get enough social media marketing and content marketing. He is the inbound marketing manager at StoreYa where he spends his days searching for the newest social marketing scoop and creating amazingly awesome content. If you’d like to chat with him, feel free to connect with him on any social platform.
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