What is Social Listening and Why is it Important?

The key to establishing and maintaining brand awareness is social media. While many brands do well with being present and active on social, more often than not they don’t capitalize on one of the most important elements that social media allows — social listening.

TrackMaven defines social listening as “the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.” In the example below, Alaska Airlines practiced social listening to gather positive feedback about the size of its airplane bathrooms. Rather than ignoring the comment, Alaska Airlines took advantage of the opportunity to engage with their audience and solidify a relationship. The tweet was playful and let followers know the airline is paying attention.

A unique element of social media is that it gives brands direct access to their customers, and customers direct access to brands. Comments, tweets and direct messages from customers give a clear indication of what’s working and what’s not — both online and off.

When Brita noticed that their customers frequently complained about the people they live with not refilling their Brita pitchers, they decided to capitalize on this information. They worked up a hilarious music video ad campaign starring basketball star Stephen Curry and Vine legend, turned YouTuber and actor KingBach. In the video, titled ‘Best Roommate Ever,’ the pair describe the key to being a good roommate — refilling the Brita pitcher.

Not only did Brita do a great job creating the video ad, but they showed their customers that they are listening and offering solutions (better roommates). Double win!

Lastly, social listening allows brands insight into how they are viewed and positioned against their competitors and in the market. This can be examined over a long-term period, like an entire year, or short-term during a product launch campaign or PR crisis.

Most recently, the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog movie received massive criticism after unveiling their design of what Sonic’s character looked like. After evaluating the feedback, the filmmakers ultimately decided to go back and make changes.

So, PR pros and social media mavens, take advantage of social listening! It will only make your customers more satisfied and have you reaping the benefits.