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How Social Listening Experts Recommend Businesses Actually Use Their Tools

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Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman took the SMWNYC stage to share how why social listening doesn’t stop at just monitoring social media.

The question of how to integrate social listening into businesses practices is one that continues to confound marketers, but experts agree on at least one thing: Social listening doesn’t stop at monitoring social media.

“Imagine being a company and your phone is ringing … and you don’t pick up?” asked Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman while moderating Talkwalker‘s panel, “Implement an Online & Social Listening Program Across Your Organization,” on the opening day of Social Media Week New York.

If you’re from the old school or aren’t sure what value a social listening platform can bring to your business, just picture that scenario. No self-respecting business would neglect to answer a direct call to their office. But in a world where social media channels connect consumers to brands and businesses 24 hours a day, how is ignoring what people are saying about your business online any different than that head-in-the-sand approach?

“Social listening or online listening isn’t just PR and communications—it’s a business strategy tool, and if you only implement it from one state of mind, you’re not going to be successful,” Nicole Moreo, Vice President, Group Manager at Ketchum told the crowd.

That was a common theme throughout the panel: The idea that most companies think of social listening as a turnkey solution for better leveraging their social media following. It’s way more than that.

Figure out what you actually want to track

Your first goal with social listening should be to figure out your objective.

“We recommend setting up meetings with stakeholders—they don’t know what they don’t know,” said Moreo. She asks them questions like: “What do you wish you knew? What do you want to track?”

“Sometimes brands are looking for insights, sometimes it’s risk management. If you come in with that clear objective, it’s easier to find the tools that are the best fit for you,” said Lila Branigan, Digital Marketing Manager for Ferrero.

You’re not going to use social listening for a month and get all the answers. It has to become a part of how you do business, and how you use it will change month-by-month as new challenges arise.

Use your data to tell a story

A report derived from social listening results should give your company context—that’s how businesses figure out what actions to take from the noise that is the larger conversations online. By giving your business the context it needs, you can illuminate what topics are worth actually exploring deeper.

“That storytelling piece is so crucial because if I get a report back and it doesn’t have that executive summary or that insight, it means nothing to me,” Branigan said.

Go beyond impressions

Impressions don’t tell us much anymore. While Moreo said they were useful for “benchmarking,” Branigan said she didn’t even use them anymore.

“We look at engagements [and] that tells us if people are talking to our brands and looking at our brands. It’s being able to provide quality metrics that serve a business need,” Branigan said.

“We’re looking at keyword proliferation and saying ‘Is that a conversation we want to join or should join? Should we be crafting a white paper?'” said Adrienne Wallace, CMO of bowmo. “It’s been good [when it comes to] informing our strategic insights and the conversations we’re putting out there. Ultimately, we’re looking to make sure we can join the conversations, whether they’re good or bad.”

Prepare for the machines

The machines are coming, particularly for our busy work and easily automated tasks. What does that mean for social listening? It means trusting tools to do what they’re set out to do.

“In the future, how do we use AI and technology to elevate our conversations so we don’t have to look at every single thing out there?” said Moreo.” The future is trusting that a bit more and letting the tool do its job.”

“When I think about a social listening program, I think about, does something require a response?” Wallace added. Whether it does, she continued, depends on company culture and mission.

Looking ahead, all three panelists noted the importance of being curious and passionate in this space in order to be successful. Since so much of the space is changing on the fly, it’s going to take fluid, flexible, and “digitally nerdy” people with strong data backgrounds to keep up.

“No matter what your background, data informs. It informs content, it informs strategy,” said Wallace.

Talkwalker is an incredibly powerful social media analytics tool & social media monitoring tool recommended by brands and agencies worldwide.

 

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