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What is social listening and how does it play in social media marketing?

As social networks evolve, social listening has also developed accordingly to catch up with the need to understand users of marketers. How has social listening been applied to social media marketing over the years? Is Social Listening a Measurement Tool Anymore?

Along with the development of social networks, Social Listening is also growing in application capabilities. If in the past, Social Listening was only about collecting social media data, today data collection is only a part of Social Listening. Measuring buzz volume or sentiment is no longer the only function of Social Listening. In the context of this article, let's look at old questions through a new lens: What is social listening and what role does it play in social media marketing?

1. What is Social Listening?

Social Listening is a form of market research whose object of analysis is the discussion of users on social networks. Typically, to solve a Social Listening problem, the researcher will go through the following steps:

  1. Develop an analysis plan
  2. Collect data based on keywords related to the research topic
  3. Conduct data selection and analysis based on research questions
  4. Visualize data and build reports

In general, the analysis process of Social Listening is similar to traditional research. The difference is that traditional research can deepen the problem through interview and survey methods but is time-consuming and costly if done on a large scale. Meanwhile, Social Listening data, which is social media discussion, is “readily available,” shortening research time and reducing the lag between research results and industry reality. In addition, the user's discussion is not affected by the subjective opinion of the researcher, so it is possible to ensure the objectivity of the data.

2. How does social listening play a role in social media marketing?

Initially, social listening was seen by many marketers as a pure measurement tool, providing some basic indicators about the campaign or brand with competitors (number of discussions, number of people discussed, sentiment indicators, etc.). However, over time, the social network has expanded in size, users have become familiar with the Digital Transformation  and therefore shared more than before. Trends coming from social media have become more and more common. Social Listening has also changed to meet the diverse research needs of marketers.

Brand Health Analysis: As one of the original applications of Social Listening, it helps brands track activity on social networks and compare with competitors in the same industry. Thereby, help the brand get an objective perspective on its current position in its related industry.

Campaign Analysis: Social Listening was once seen as a “post-campaign tool,” which only came to measure when a campaign was over. Today, more and more brands are using Social Listening for the pre-campaign phase, helping brands connect with users in real time. In fact, some campaigns have used Social Listening at the same time as the campaign to build content.

Special Occasion Analysis: The special occasion on the social media will be very different from the special occasion in reality. Let's take a simple example: If April Fool's Day is a day of lies, for social media users, it's a day for all people to confess their love. Social Listening will analyze and help marketers discover unique points about social media users on special occasions. With data collected in real time, Social Listening proves to be extremely useful when brands need to keep track of special occasions such as the New Year, or special occasions that do not have a specific start and end time (hot season, rainy season, milk tea time, sleepy time, etc.)

Crisis Management: The media crisis has always been a major concern for brands and is becoming increasingly complex. BuzzMetrics' consolidated report shows that the risk of a second outbreak during a crisis is increasing, as well as the duration of the crisis is getting longer. Users instead of sharing on personal pages have turned to community pages with the desire for their voices to spread more strongly. In this context, Social Listening helps to warn the brand about the risk of crisis and gives suggestions on how to handle it.

User Analysis: Social Listening helps marketers understand users from a variety of perspectives, be it their behavior and attitudes within a single industry (UnA Research), or analyzing customers by large user groups (Gen-Z, Millennials,...). With the increasing data coverage of Social Listening, every user attribute such as personality, lifestyle, style, interests can be thoroughly analyzed. From there, Social Listening indicates the characteristics of users belonging to an industry, or differences between groups of users from one another.

Trend Analysis: On average every month, the social network has more than 200 hot topics. Even so, not every hot topic can be leveraged to build a brand image. Social Listening helps marketers identify hot topics that are relevant to the brand on social networks, social slang that are popular so that brands can include in articles and become closer to users. With the development of A.I., brands can now track the development of hot topics of each major concern in real time.

3. Basic metrics in Social Listening?

There are many social listening platforms for marketers to choose SocialHeat is an example.

The platforms may vary in terms of data coverage and data processing/retrieval features, but will generally provide the following basic metrics for marketers:

Buzz Volume: Discussion volume, the most basic indicator in Social Listening reports, indicates how many discussions (posts, comments, or shares) have been made on a topic.

Share of Voice: The brand's discussion rate compared to competitors from the same industry. This is an indicator that helps determine which brands are of most interest on social networks

Audience Scale: The number of participants discussing a topic. Together with Buzz Volume, showcases a topic's ability to spread on social media.

Sentiment Score: Expresses the user's feelings towards a topic, whose value is in the range of [-1,1]. Moving closer to 1 indicates how positive the user is and vice versa

To learn more about metrics, marketers can refer to here

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