If you want to understand your customers and competitors better, and how to create the best service and content to reach them, a great way to do so is by utilizing “social listening.” There are dozens of sites and places online that your target audience members are having conversations. By tracking just the mentions of your brand in social, you’re still missing out on conversations that could be relevant to your brand and industry. Social listening tools will allow you to track keywords, phrases and brands that will provide insight you can leverage for your small business. With social listening, you can:
Find PR opportunities
Discover new places to reach potential customers
Uncover content ideas that will resonate
Figure out ways to beat your competitors
Social listening vs. social monitoring
However, it’s important to understand that social listening is different than social monitoring. Monitoring tools track brand mentions, and common tools that get this job done are SproutSocial and HootSuite. Most brands today monitor sites like Twitter and Facebook for mentions of their brand, and respond when customers reach out.
However, if you want to jump into the practice of social media listening in addition to monitoring, you’ll need to invest in a tool that tracks all sorts of conversations happening across the web — within forums, comments, websites, blogs, videos and more.
Here are the best social media listening tools for your business:
Sysomos is an enterprise-level solution that has a ton of products to help with insights that would benefit your business. Their social media listening tool is the behemoth of social listening tools. It offers advanced social listening functionality, including:
Track competitors, benchmark your brand against them, and understand industry trends
Understand a backload of 13-months of data to sift through conversations that might matter and build a data set to analyze
Set alerts for crisis management, trends that emerge and influencer engagement
Tag conversations based on brand, service issues, engagement and more
SproutSocial is known for social monitoring, but they also have some social listening tools built into their platform. Because of the lower price point and dual functionality, this can be a great option for small businesses who want to get started in social listening. Their platform allows you to conduct advanced hashtag and keyword queries; visualize your brand reach and how it compares to your competitors, see share of voice metrics, analyze sentiment and discover influencers online.
Google Alerts is a great, free way to track mentions of keywords, phrases and brands. If you want to track what your competitor is up to, create a Google Alert for every time their brand is mentioned. You can also receive a daily or weekly digest around top phrases that might pertain to your brand such as “small business marketing” or “selling on Amazon.”
SocialMention is a free, online tool that tracks conversations blog, microblogs, bookmarking sites, images, videos and questions. Because it is free, it’s not entirely accurate and the data can get a little messy. However, it does offer free metrics associated with social listening such as brand reach, strength, sentiment and passion. You can view top keywords used with your search, top hashtags and top users mentioning the keyword or brand. To test it out, plug in your business name and see what you find.
HARO is a great way to “listen” in on public relations opportunities for your brand. In this platform, freelance writers and journalists list the sources they need for their publications and articles. By tracking the digests weekly, you can find places to offer your expert opinion. If you earn a mention in one of these articles, it’s a great place for brand awareness and a linkback to your business (which matters for SEO)!
Traackr will allow you to connect with influencers and “listen” in on what they’re talking about and the content they’re sharing, so you can conduct conversations with them. The tool allows you to find influencers based on keyword searches, follow those influencers, track engagement with them, and reach out to collaborate. Just be sure you follow social etiquette when engaging with this influencers, so you don’t ruin a potentially great relationship for your brand.
This post originally appeared as a guest contribution on Hatchbuck.com — a great resource for small business owners looking for a marketing automation tool!