Ears to the wall: How social media listening tools should inform your content

By George Norris | 22 Sep 2021

A recent post for the Content Marketing Institute highlighted the benefits of using social listening tools to inform your content and differentiate from competitors. As brands focus increasingly on social as part of their content strategy, surprisingly few - just 8% according to a 2020 report by Social Bakers - indicate they use social media listening tools as part of their research. By putting their ears to the ground, or timeline, the remaining 92% could better understand their audience by gathering real-time data.

Social listening is primarily an audience research method that involves monitoring content on social media platforms, websites, and chat forums. Brands can measure mentions, sentiment and engagement for a particular channel, or key terms such as a brand name, product name, or relevant keyword.

There are multiple reasons why brands would want to do this. Social listening allows you to understand what your customers are interested in, what they are discussing and, ultimately, how your business can engage with them. Using social listening during research can help inform and enhance the following activities:

  • Audience insights and audience persona creation
  • Identifying industry influencers and relevant thought leaders
  • Competitor analysis
  • Content planning - identifying new trends, topics and issues within your industry
  • Defining tone of voice

Data sourced through social listening tools can not only inform the content you produce as a research aide, but also be a source of content, whether it’s created for social channels, a website blog or for Digital PR campaigns.

Naturally, the wealth of social media data on relevant topics and brands will be of interest to your brand’s audience, but it could also be valuable to publications and media outlets and therefore become a great resource for outreach and link-building activity. For example, our 2019 campaign for Currys PC World and Bose looked at the social media fandom of the world’s biggest musicians, a topic we knew would be relevant to both brands’ audiences. To do this, data was sourced from Twitter using a social listening tool by inputting each musician’s Twitter handle. We were able to track tweets that ‘mentioned’ them to learn about the sentiment and emotions expressed towards each musician. Not only did this allow us to produce content our audience would be interested in, but also content that would gain coverage from tech, lifestyle, and music publications.

Even if this advanced use of social listening isn’t relevant for your brand, these tools still offer an opportunity as social becomes increasingly important for digital marketing, offering a way to gain insights into your competitors, your audience and of course, your own brand.