In recent years the question of “Whether to invest in inbound marketing?” has shifted to “How much to invest?”. According to HubSpot “47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep.” At the same time, “Only 30% of B2B marketers say their organizations are effective at inbound marketing, down from 38% last year.”
These statistics not only point out the demand for good content, but also the need for it. Consumers are buying with their hearts – they’re searching for actual experiences and added value as much as practicality.
We must agree with Entrepreneur in that the end of traditional advertising is upon us. At least when we’re talking about cost-effective ways to market yourself. People are complex. Today, we’re crazy about Netflix, but tomorrow we might not even be into TV series. We change our minds on a daily basis, grow, learn and develop throughout our whole life.
We have our own problems, challenges, and goals, so a simple “buy this” message is probably not going to cut it. We all live partially online. We are looking for real experiences there, stories to inspire us, things to learn, materials that will help us develop, and stuff to share with our friends.
That’s why marketing today is headed in the direction of acknowledging and understanding human complexity and providing content based on it. To interest an audience enough for them to follow your brand, you must connect on a very personal and human level. That’s how you generate leads through marketing.
Social Media Listening
So what exactly is social media listening?
It’s the process of tracking online conversations and following specific keywords (industries, brands, topics, etc.) with the aim of gaining actionable insight that could, later on, be leveraged. It’s what differentiates social media listening from a simple data monitoring.
The latter focuses on direct action based on the tracking process, e.g. reply, engage in conversation, whereas the former uses this information to understand a psychographic matrix and come up with a social strategy around it.
When you’re trying to obtain market insight to use as data for your next campaign, social media is an excellent place to look at the whole picture. However, you must take into account not only how many people are talking about you, but what’s their sentiment. For example, 100 000 mentions might be a goal you’ve set and achieved, but once we say 60% of these were negative references, the picture starts taking on a very different color.
Millions of people share their opinions on social media on a daily basis. Sure, tracking mentions is fine, but gaining valuable insight from those mentions, understanding consumer needs, problems, and behavioral patterns is what determines the success of your next campaign.
And this involves looking at topics more coherently and not treating every single message as a different task. This approach will help you find information that could serve as an actionable tool when it comes to content strategy, product development, recruitment, sales, reputation, retaining leads, customer support, and mapping out the journey for your customers.
What You Need to Listen to?
The simple answer is “everything related to your industry and brand”. But these might be quite a lot of conversations that are not so easy to find. So, we’ll give you some useful tips on what to search for, and most importantly, in what manner:
1. Brand’s Name
Let’s start with the obvious – conversations about your company are what you want to monitor. But be mindful and track even those in which the “@” modifier was not used to tag your brand because a lot of users simply do not use this or completely forget about using it.
There are a lot of tools you could use to automate such processes such as Brandwatch, Reputology, Synthesio, Crowd Analyzer (amazing functionality for Arabic audience as well), Hootsuite, and ReviewInc.
The more conversations you track, the more insights there might be. Look for what people generally enjoy and what they don’t, potential problems that might need fixing, influencers in your area (the people who receive the most reactions when they share/comment). There’s a lot you can find when looking at this first layer of information.
We would suggest you search for what people really enjoy and really hate about competitors. Your aim here would be to better understand the consumers and what portion of their needs is being left unaddressed.
So, targeting those people in an ad, answering a problem they’ve been facing for quite some time, might generate a significant number of leads for your funnel. Monitor keywords like “[competitor’s brand name] can’t” or “[competitor’s brand name] won’t” to understand the problem consumers are facing.
3. Products and Industry
Tracking conversations about your sector and the services/products you provide, could give you meaningful information on what potential clients might be expecting in terms of customer experience; what their desires, goals, problems, and interests are.
For example, you could find that people from a certain demographic, who travel a lot, usually have problems with the battery life of their cell phones or tablets. That makes them a great target audience for marketing portable charging devices.
You may not necessarily target industry’s biggest trendsetters directly, because of the amount of would pump up your marketing budget. Your primary task though, is to find influencers who are willing to work with you? Follow trending topics around the sector, see who’s sharing articles on certain topics or publishing industry related trends and news.
Feedly is a great tool for coming up with ideas about what’s viral right now. Among the people sharing trending content will be those with higher engagement rates and their own small audiences. Approach them to start a conversation, show genuine interest in their work and achievements and try to be of help to them.
Once you establish relationships with influencers or build a community, offer help, useful freebies, and make it easy for your brand advocates to share those with their own followers or friends. Follow the path of your own content in social media, determine your biggest advocates, and offer them a reward – giveaways, discounts, even a warm “thank you” will be appreciated.
5. Trending Topics, Industry Keywords, and Hashtags
We think the key here is not only to monitor these conversations but to actually let your community manager join in on them with all the previous information they have about consumers, buyer personas, and psychographics.
If they are genuine and know how to steer the conversation in the right direction, you might come up with a lot of new leads. If you are an SME, it’s also a good practice to keep track of the effectiveness of such conversations.
For example, who in the audience have you reached and who have registered on your website. Be sure to follow up on those actions, offering additional support. Such gestures will make your customers feel appreciated and valued. And that’s what they want, as 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated!
6. Campaign Names and Hashtags
Monitoring your own campaigns is most probably something you’re already doing. If you are not, start right way! However, tracking how competitive or new trending campaigns are doing, what consumers love about them and what really annoys the client can be essential for the effectiveness of your overall content strategy.
Let’s think of an example. You could figure out that during SuperBowl’s Ads there’s a very dynamic and powerful conversation about them happening on Twitter. So you could make an advertisement asking people to tweet #YourBrandNameChallenge during each Ad in the event and give away rewards to randomly picked users. Just imagine the effect this campaign would have.
Check out such a data-driven campaign by the car company, Volvo:
Throughout the whole post, we talked about gaining actionable information that could be leveraged later on. So, now comes the time to show how to drive results through information-based content.
Figure Out the Organic Reach
A lot of marketers think paid advertising and organic reach are overrated. Actually, these marketing approaches are intertwined and boost each other. Websites, TV Channels, Media, they all have a place where you can advertise. For them, this place is more a resource. They give part of their organic reach to you. For Google this resource is keywords. And for Facebook – audiences.
But paying for this resource (advertising) means you can monitor, analyze and understand the behavioral patterns of users on these platforms. You can see what content performs better, how leads react to various campaigns, what messages resonate well with the audience, and what data to look for to polish your overall campaigns. Paid advertising provides significant insights into the organic matrix in the medium and how it functions.
So, to engage with your customers, it’s good to first figure out where they are organically. For example, Facebook consumers might be crazy about your brand, but higher level professionals hanging out on LinkedIn might be your negative persona or vice versa. Figuring this out will also help you save money since you don’t want to spend money on something that won’t have a good ROI.
Have a General Idea of What Works
Creatively our job is based on intuition as much as it is on information. But to implement something, you have to believe in it, follow a consistent strategy and find the data to back it up. Looking through the campaigns of competitors can be of real value to determine what’s well accepted by consumers and what’s not.
Let’s say we offer high-quality nail polishers and have seen that virtual makeup rooms where consumers can see how products look on their face have been a hit in social media. So, offering a similar virtual experience where users could try on each nail polisher and see how it looks on their hands might have the same effect, especially if the reaction to consumer needs is timely.
Furthermore, think of a viral feature that will make consumers share your content. In this particular case, it might be various creative designs, showing users the products needed to achieve a certain nail polish look. Having an embedded YouTube link to a “How to achieve this” video to engage with consumers further is also a good idea. One that’s going to be the viral feature, that will stimulate users to share the VR nail polishing room and reach an even greater audience.
To summarize, it’s important to not only listen to social conversations but to understand the market. This knowledge will help you use consumers’ interests and market trends, to create an experience perfectly tailored for your audience.
Setting Realistic Goals
It’s sometimes hard to determine whether a campaign has been successful or not based purely on the metrics you’ve selected. You might not know what the average results in the industry are, or what to look for to measure your success. Following competitors could help you quickly determine this.
For example, you might have newsletter subscription rates as the only metric to assess your blog articles conversion success. Whereas in the industry, consumers might be more oriented towards measuring social shares, finding practical solutions and sharing them to spark direct conversations. You could monitor your competitors, and adjust your content to fit these goals.
Get Campaign Insights
To make a campaign that’s highly effective in the competitive buzz nowadays, you have to really be original and present things from a new perspective. But to do so, you must first go down a road no one has ever thought of.
For example, let’s say you have a web development company. By monitoring social media, you may have seen that a lot of freelancers take photos of, look for, and are interested in co-working spaces. At the same time, many of them are struggling to make their own site and are looking for advice and recommendations for it. That makes people interested in coworking spaces a granular group to target; a group others might not have thought of.
A lot of the marketing competitiveness comes with smart targeting practices. But in addition to this, you might find interesting and creative ideas coming from inside the community, you only have to listen.
That’s probably one of the aspects, in which social media listening, is most commonly used. Understanding what clients struggle with, can help you know what to offer them to solve their problems. It could also help you determine the issues with your own products and react in time.
For example, if you monitor complains about technology related products, a lot of them may claim customer support takes too much time to answer their needs. That could immediately point to the fact that introducing a chatbot, able to explain how to resolve common issues, will be a lead-convertor for you.
A lot of brands nowadays are struggling to attract top talent to their teams due to the competitive labor market. If you listen to the online conversation on topics like recruitment in your industry, you might find that potential employees want to apply for a job in a more human-experience-related manner.
This could mean that a simple online conversation with your HR is going to do much more than posting a job offer and waiting for the right person to reply.
Monitoring online conversations that your brand could closely relate to is vital to your success. But leveraging the information gained to become an active part of the web talk, produce consumer-tailored content, and target the exact audience that’s going to appeal to it, is what will turn you into a lead-generating monster.