Some of the key social media listening tools’ benefits are about giving deeper insight into audience profiles and behaviour which helps define any content strategy, says Dialogue’s Content Strategist, Howard Wilmot.
With the advent of SEO and social media, content creation became a highly complex proposition, moving away from a journalistic take on who the audience was and what it wanted to an analytical approach, based out of keyword traffic and audience insight.
Hence the rise of social media listening tools.
Marketers use a variety of tools to analyse audiences, their behaviour and their user journey. From traffic volume and keyword tools like Keyword Planner, SEM Rush and Moz, brands can discover potential ‘interest’, while moving through to Google Analytics, they ascertain just how well the content they’re creating is servicing this audience.
Similarly social media has offered a different take on how content is engaged with and how it is shared. This can be analysed through the channels themselves or various tools that may also help with scheduling and distribution like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Iconosquare etc.
But while they may tell some of the story, it’s not necessarily going to give the full picture.
What are social media listening tools?
Social media listening tools like Pulsar, Brandwatch and Salesforce are important because they do just that – and at Dialogue, we use Pulsar. These tools inform pre-campaign, allowing greater insight across audiences and the whole digital media landscape any brand operates in.
In essence, social media listening tools can give the data insight necessary to create strategy and content that will resonate before you type, take a picture or video.
In social media, people define themselves by what they’re interested in and they use social media to re-enforce these definitions daily. In this space, users articulate and voice their opinions, they are driven by passion, association, emotion, inspiration and distraction.
Using social media tools allow content strategists and planners to analyse these conversations, which often cluster around geographic, ethnic and/or interest areas, giving real insight on the messages which can hook wider audiences.
Understanding our clients’ audience is key to what we do at Dialogue.
How do social media tools work?
Essentially, this type of social media tool is like Google on steroids, helping surface content and conversations around groups of keywords which can be product, brand, activity or service related. You can then group, filter and analyse the results in a dashboard to analyse, benchmark and evaluate to help advise on future campaigns.
There are some limitations of course; for example, you can only surface Facebook group content and the software isn’t necessarily able to read sentiment – though Pulsar can identify joy, anger, fear, disgust and sadness.
So, thinking like a researcher is important, using a hypothesis-led approach and/or having specific questions that need to be answered: can we identify influencers?; can we understand an audience type and their issues?
This helps define the relevant online conversations.
For example, we use Pulsar to examine content for one of our clients, the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.).
By understanding what the users are talking or not talking about from bike customisation through to rallies and merchandise, helps us not only shape relevant content to engage them but also create campaigns to support or promote underperforming messaging for the social space and beyond on the website and in the magazine we create.
Key social media listening tools’ benefits?
Brands now need to create a variety of content that engages users at various stages in their discovery or purchase journey. Social media listening tools allow brands and agencies to understand the messages and nuances any community or sub community responds to – a one size fits all approach just can’t be relevant online and content therefore has to work much harder than ever before.
And social media listening platforms can go much further to evaluate a whole sector in the following ways:
1. Highlight key audience personas
Showing an understanding of digital behaviour is vital to ensure you know the general landscape a brand is operating in and also begins the funnel for a targeted insight-driven content strategy that will resonate with them.
2. Identify a new distribution network
Social media influencers can act as a distribution network for content, but locating them and targeting them with the right message can be time-consuming and laborious. Social media listening tools allow you to understand the exact connections between the influencers, so we can even discover who’s influencing who. Furthermore, there may be a lower tier of powerful influencers who don’t necessarily look to make a career out of it which this type of platform can surface.
3. Category mapping for content
These tools allow us to understand a sector as a whole – and the conversations happening not only around a topic but competitors too to get a macro and micro view of trends, issues, and needs. This real insight can inform all content.
4. Understanding context and tactics
But you can also make sense of other issues: the moments when a user is most likely to post, the context in which the conversations are happening as well as key social media tactics like hashtags that work.
5. Measuring success
And finally, it allows you to understand how your content is faring in relation to others’ and the client’s overall share of voice online, allowing you to set realistic kpi’s.
The kind of insight provided by social media platforms is increasingly important for brands looking to validate their choices and messages – and being able to define these pre-campaign gives any client greater security in this most challenging media landscape.
Want to talk to our team about content creation?
We also have a report about brand communities and content, you can download our free report The Benefits of Brand Communities from our website.