If as an entrepreneur you are not already actively using social media then you might want to get a bit more serious on that. Modern-day effective business marketing is being done through the internet and social media. I do acknowledge that a significant number of local entrepreneurs have embraced the use of social media in their businesses. To take you even further in your social media expertise I am discussing social media listening today. You probably might have not heard the term before but fortunately, you have come across this article. The simple yet potent practices I shall discuss herein can redefine your approach in how you use social media for business.

What Is Social Media Listening?

This involves two basic processes which go hand in hand. Firstly, there is the tracking of social media conversations regarding your brand or aspects related to your brand. Secondly, it involves contributing to or responding to some of the conversations you would have come across. Some of the metrics you use to find the conversations in question are keywords, key phrases, brand mentions and most importantly comments. Your ultimate goal in all this is to end up cultivating sustainable engagements with current and prospective customers. Overall, you want to draw invaluable insights from them about your brand so that you perfect your craft. I once discussed the importance of two-way communication in social media marketing – it can only happen if you are diligent about social media listening. Let us get into how you can set up social media listening for your business.

Setting Up Social Media Listening For Your Business

Today I am going to just discuss free and practical methods though there are more advanced methods which are somewhat costly. Hopefully in the future when the time is right (given the local economy) I shall discuss those more advanced methods.

Know Your Social Media Platforms

This is the first step in your social media listening journey because social media platforms are different. For instance, the top 5 most used social media platforms in Zimbabwe are WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. You must appreciate the demographical attributes of these different platforms. For example, those aged below 30 tend to be most active on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter and LinkedIn tend to be for those aged from 30 going up, professionals and intellectuals whilst WhatsApp is literally a mixed bag. By understanding this you will know what information to look for and how to respond depending on which social media platform you are on.

Listen And Proactively Respond

When people comment about your brand or on issues related to your brand the content of such comments is varied. At times they can be compliments, sometimes complaints, requests, questions and so on. No matter the content always proactively respond – though of course there are some exceptions. Studies have shown that way below 50% of businesses proactively address people’s comments on social media. By the way, addressing does obviously mean you would have acknowledged the comments in the first place. You have no idea how this single practice can reap huge rewards for your business. Remember we are talking about social media listening meaning that the proof of your listening is your proactive responses. Do not forget to be swift in your responses – a rule of thumb is to not exceed a day without addressing a comment. Kindly take time as a business entity to also like, share and comment on positive comments as that makes people feel special.

Set Up Real-Time Notifications

This is closely tied to the previous talking point because it promotes proactivity. The idea is that you are tracking conversations regarding your brand and related issues. To get the best out of this it must be done in real-time which makes having real-time notifications ideal. You must set up your settings for all your social media platforms in such a way that when something is posted or a message is sent to your business you get a notification instantly.

Incorporate And Encourage The Use Of Tags And Hash Tags

Social media listening is not just about combing through content posted on your platforms only. It is also about looking at your industry as a whole and your competitors. Manually looking for social media mentions regarding your brand can be quite daunting. This, of course, is not an issue once you start using advanced social media listening tools. However, as I said earlier I am discussing free and practical methods. If you recall I mentioned keywords and key phrases right? Use those as the basis for the hashtags that you will use in your posts or comments – also encourage people to do the same. Tags are also important for when people comment or post about your brand elsewhere other than your platforms. In the end, it will become easy to search for, track, analyse and draw insights from conversations being made on social media pertaining to your brand. Essentially you will take advantage of search features based on tags or hashtags that social media platforms have.

With these 4 practicable steps, you can conduct effective social media listening and create remarkable business value. The insights you will draw from social media listening will greatly inform your business strategy. You will also notice that your brand authority and brand awareness will also surge. Other aspects that will grow are your engagement rates and overall reach. Social media listening is more than just social media monitoring – the two are not the same. In social media listening, one finds out what is being said, responds and turns drawn insights into business strategy. Social media monitoring simply scratches the surface and does not process things much further. As an entrepreneur make up your mind today to put into practice what I have discussed in this article, the results will elate you.