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Your customers use social media to talk about your industry, competitors, and brand. They provide valuable information that you can use to generate content ideas, understand why they go elsewhere, and prevent PR disasters. That’s why social listening is so important.
Today, we’re talking to Joei Chan – content marketing manager from Mention. She shares some examples, tips, and advice that will help you capitalize on social listening opportunities.
Nathan: Your audience uses social media. Whether you’re present or not, you can bet that they’re talking about your industry, your competitors, and your brand. That’s what makes social listening so important. Your audience is freely providing that valuable information you can use to generate amazing content ideas, understand why your customers choose your competition over you, and get in front of those PR disasters.
Joei Chan is the former Content Marketing Manager at Mention. She’s on the Actionable Marketing Podcast today to share some examples, tips, and advice to help you capitalize on all the opportunities behind social listening.
You’re about to learn how to leverage user-generated content within your marketing strategy, how to pro-actively use social listening to prevent a PR crisis, and how to build your following, and all of it with social listening. I’m Nathan from CoSchedule and I’m excited to dive in. Let’s get to it with Joei.
Hey, Joei. Thanks a lot for being on the podcast today.
Joei: Thank you for having me, Nathan. I’m super excited to be here.
Nathan: I’m excited to have you. We’ve been fans of Mention for a long time. We use Mention here at CoSchedule. Let’s just start with that. Tell me a little bit about Mention and maybe a little bit about what you do there.
Joei: I’m a Content Marketing Manager at Mention. Mention is a web and social media listening tool for brands to track conversations online and to listen to any key topics that are interesting and strategic for their brand or business development.
My personal role at the company is that I lead content marketing partnerships to basically generate demands and leads for the sales and marketing team. That includes doing things like joint webinars, or partner events, and a lot of content creation like writing blog posts, ebooks, doing videos sometimes, and then a little bit of lead nurturing and management after generating all of those leads from different content partnerships. I also work on nurturing them and then qualifying them for the sales team. That’s what I do in a nutshell.
Nathan: We just did some partnership stuff with you for other webinars. I know we’ve got upcoming stuff, we’re doing this podcast. It seems like a pretty cool job, honestly.
Joei: Yeah, I get to talk to a lot of other awesome marketers like you, work with a ton of different great marketing companies and learn from them, and collaborate in different creative projects. It’s pretty sweet.
Nathan: Joei, you mentioned–pun not intended, actually–that Mention is a social listening tool. For people who might be new to this, how would you define social listening? What is social listening?
Joei: Social listening is monitoring online conversations to understand what customers are saying about your brand and your industry. It’s more than just looking out for your @mentions or your comments that comes in through your social profiles or your blog but you’re actually tracking usually through specific keywords, phrases, topics, conversations that are useful and valuable for you to take back to your company to help your sales, marketing, product, customer service, a way to collect feedback in a very macro level.
Nathan: Joei, you mentioned that part of this listening is understanding those keywords or topics that your audience might be talking about. How do you actually find those keywords or topics? What are you looking for for those sorts of things?
Joei: There are two ways to go about it. The easiest way to start monitoring or doing social listening would be to start with your brand. If it’s Mention or if it’s CoSchedule, then you wanna first be tracking obviously your brand name, your company name.
Depending on what your industry in, you wanna be maybe tracking content marketing because this is your field or your topic. We would be tracking keywords like social listening, social media monitoring. First, your brand name, extending to your industry or your field. This would be like a general way to first get a general pulse or understanding of your brand and the space around your brand.
Another way to go about it is first actually to see what your goals are, what your KPIs are, and what you’re trying to achieve. Depending on if you’re coming from a marketing perspective or if you’re coming more from a customer service perspective, what you are looking out for, the keywords would be very different.
We’re probably talking more to marketers here. You would want to look at things like what people think about your marketing campaigns or what they’re most interested in, what kind of content they’re interested in. Then you would be tracking keywords that are more targeted towards marketing related things. Whereas the customer service teams would be tracking things like bugs or problems. Maybe search terms like CoSchedule + Bugs + doesn’t work or these kind of keywords that would be very specific to customer support teams. Product teams would look at different things. They would maybe be more feature focused. They would wanna track if people like their latest release of the new dashboards. You would be tracking those keywords.
The second way to go about it is to go from what your goal is and then start from there to decide what your keywords should be.
Nathan: From that marketing perspective, Joei, I was kind of wondering just to get your perspective on this because I know that you’re working at Mention, this is like your forte. Why is social listening important for marketers specifically to understand?
Joei: That’s what we try to communicate everyday actually at Mention. Why should marketers care about social listening? I would say that the first thing is what is the first thing you learn when you start doing marketing is you need to know your audience. You need to know who you’re speaking to, you need to know who you’re targeting, you need to know where they are, the demographics. These are the things that you can find out through social listening. Because when you’re tracking conversations about your brand, about your industry, then you can find out the people that are talking about your brand, the kind of people that are talking about your industry.
You also wanna find out who they are to see if there are influencers talking about you, if it’s even the right kind of target that you had in mind because sometimes you might think that your product is actually targeting millennials, when in fact it’s mainly older people who are interested in your product. You can be completely off. These are things that social listening will be able to help you get right so that you will be able to see what’s real data, whether what you have in mind is actually the reality. Because marketers, we have fantasies about our own brand perception or we think that people think this about our brand, or we think this is what we stand for whereas the reality could be very different.
It doesn’t matter what you think. Your opinion about your brand is not relevant because the only thing that defines your brand is what people think, is what people are saying. This is why social listening is critical for marketers.
After that, there are things like social listening helps marketers track your campaign effectiveness because if you launch something, if you did like a social media campaign, you wanna know how well people are receiving it, you wanna know how far the reach is, you wanna know the brand sentiments. These are things that we could find out through monitoring online conversations.
Nathan: Let’s say we are listening and marketers are doing this. How exactly can we use social listening to create better content or better campaigns? What would you recommend there?
Joei: We actually have a lot of customers using social listening and monitoring to help them create better content. Obviously, when you know your audience better, you can target better. That means not just the demographics, but also the platforms that you even wanna be on. Do you need to, for example, invest in all of social media platforms? Maybe not. Maybe you only need to be doing content for Facebook and Instagram, maybe your audience is not on Twitter. This can already help you narrow down the platforms you need to be on and the content you need to be creating content for.
You can also find out the content that’s already out there. Sometimes your customers can be already creating a lot of user-generated content. If you are monitoring what your customers are saying, then you can get to leverage that as a way to create content for your brand which is very powerful, sometimes even better than content that you create yourself because your community can be way more convincing and authentic than content that comes from you.
We have actually some customers who use monitoring to actually curate content from their community. We have a watch brand that they find photos that their users are posting on Instagram with their branded hashtag. Then they repost them on their own social media accounts. It’s a great way to get people engaged, encourage more of their customers to create more content, very good virtual cycle.
There was also another customer actually who discovered a whole new market through listening. They found that there were actually a lot of people who were talking about their brand in South Korea that they never knew that their products were popular there. People are talking about it. Then they started to invest in creating content in Korean.
There are a lot of opportunities that you can discover by listening closely to what your customers are saying and then tailoring your content based on those conversations.
Nathan: Are you digging what you’re learning from Joei? I know I am. If you’re with me, would you mind helping me out? I would love a review from you for the Actionable Marketing Podcast on iTunes. Simply head up to iTunes, leave a rating and review for this podcast then send a screenshot to email@example.com. Give me your postal mailing address, and as a way to say thanks, I will mail you some pretty fun CoSchedule swag. Let’s get back to social listening with Joei.
All those are really smart examples. One of them, and I wanna pick your brand just a little more, is this idea of user-generated content. If we’re using social listening to find that stuff, how would you recommend marketers to use that user-generated content within their strategy?
Joei: We have seen a lot of brands doing specific campaigns based on user-generated content. If you find that a lot of your customers like to show off your product after they purchase them, you can encourage them to use a specific hashtag. They’re the one creating the content, but you should be there to pilot and you can manage it in a way by encouraging them to use a specific hashtag or you can give very clear instructions of the kind of things you want them to create more of.
You can say like, “Oh, if you’ve bought our watch, send us a picture of you wearing the watch.” Or like, “If you’re in the restaurants, send us a picture of you, of your meal, and use this hashtag and we might republish on our social media channels.” You should be there directing your audience, telling them how they should send you back the content that they created, how you can gather them, and how other people can discover through that hashtag all of the content that’s out there. It’s really a very social media team thing.
Most companies–depending on how big your company is actually, some companies have a separate inbound content marketing team and then a separate social media team. If that’s the case, you might wanna be working together, maybe work on social media campaigns to leverage this kind of user-generated content.
If you get a lot of engagement on social media from these user-generated content, you can republish it on a blog, you can curate them and then show them off on a page. There are really a lot of different ways you can show off your user-generated content.
We created a whole page on what we called Social Media Olympics during the Olympic games two years ago. We basically used the hashtag to encourage people to publish posts on the Olympic games and then we were curating and posting on our social media channels and on that landing page. That generated a lot of traffic. Working together with the social media team and the content team together, there are a lot of different ways that you can leverage user-generated content. That was very interesting.
It was kind of like a crisis that Reese’s, the peanut butter cup chocolate brand went through I think during Christmas some years ago where they launched a peanut butter chocolate tree thing for Christmas and it looked nothing like a Christmas tree. It was kind of ugly and people were taking pictures of it and posting it on social media and saying that it’s ugly, it looks nothing like a tree, it looks more of like a weird dog, or like every single one of those chocolates looked different and they were making fun of it.
Then Reese’s cut up on these conversations and they used it to kind of make fun of themselves. They made a whole range of different social media posts saying things like every tree is unique or I know you don’t look perfect but we still love you. They made fun of themselves based on the comments that they listened to on social media. People loved it. They loved that they were embracing their critics and they just made fun of themselves, and then brought everyone to laugh with them, instead of at them. That was a very fun example of how you can create content through listening to your community and then draw ideas from your users or your consumers.
Nathan: Yeah, I think that’s an awesome example too because I know from some research from the New York Times Customer Insight Group that people love to share entertaining content, humorous content. Embracing that and being able to be vulnerable with your audience is really important. I think social listening is a great way to do that.
Joei: Every brand messes up once in awhile. If you have tried anything new, there will be times where you fail and it’s inevitable. But the way to go about it is really just to embrace your failures and be authentic about it instead of trying to ignore it or fake it. People really nowadays, I think, we’re very quick to tell whether a brand is authentic or not. People call you out really quickly, and brands who manage to embrace these negative moments and then try to turn them around can really create great PR opportunities actually for themselves.
Nathan: Let’s say you’re working on building some of your social media following, how would you recommend marketers use social listening to build that following or find their audience? What tips do you have for us there?
Joei: Building your audience on social media is really about understanding them and giving the content that would really interest them. The second thing would be engaging with your audience. It’s two things, making sure that what you’re putting out there is what people are interested in and then getting people to talk to you and then responding to them because they see that, “Oh, you’re actually not just a one way blasting machine, you actually engage with me and you talk back. We can have a conversation and this is a real relationship.”
This encourages people to keep engaging with you and keeping the community alive. That’s why it’s important to be listening and reacting in real time when people are trying to reach out to you or when people are talking about you or not even at you like if they don’t tag you or something. If you are tracking these conversations, you can jump on them even if they forgot to tag you and you don’t get a notification. Through using a tool, you can still track these conversations even if they didn’t tag you. Social listening really helps you build your following by helping you identify your audience, what they’re interested in, and helping you engage with them.
Nathan: I know that you can use social listening to not only build that following, find some of those user-generated content ideas like work on it from a PR perspective. One part of it too is competitive analysis. I’m wondering from your perspective, how can you use social listening to gather information on your competition and why might something like that be important?
Joei: Competitive monitoring is one of the hottest use case for our customers, especially if you work in marketing, you know that your brand is never like alone. You’re not an island, it’s always in comparison to your competitor that your customers perceive you. Your customers will look at you and then they have maybe a mental scale of where they put you with reference to other brands.
Everybody, when they think about some products or a service, they will have a rank in their mind about who are the leaders, who are less competitive option. You wanna make sure that when customers are thinking about your brand, you’re always up there on top out of your list of competitors.
The way that you make sure you stay ahead of your competitors is first to know what they’re doing, what their strategies are, and what your customers or their customers think about them. This is where social listening and monitoring comes into play because you can easily find out the conversations around your competitors by tracking specific keywords or their brands. That would be the first thing, knowing what people think about them. It’s super important when you’re trying to position yourself as a different or better option for your customers.
After, you can differentiate yourself, you can also dig deeper into how they are promoting a certain feature that you might also have or how they’re engaging with their customers, how do they promote their content, what kind of marketing campaigns are they doing and you can maybe learn from. Your competitors are actually your best teacher. You can see their hits and misses, then avoid the mistakes that they’ve made, and steal ideas and strategies from them. I would say that these are some of the many ways that you can take advantage of – learn from your competitors through social listening.
Nathan: I think that’s awesome advice, Joei, and you’ve had so much of it. Let’s say I’m looking to revise my inbound marketing approach or just getting started with this concept of social listening and looking for some best practices, where would you recommend I start with this?
Joei: Maybe we should first think about what is inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is about attracting people to your brand so that you don’t have to go get them–the opposite of calling them up and selling them your brand when they’ve never heard of you. Brand perception and brand awareness is the first thing to inbound marketing, I would say. What people think about you, what they feel, and what they know about you is the key to an inbound marketing strategy. That means that you wanna make sure when people type your name, the name of your brand on Google, what they see is something that works in your favor.
That includes things like your social media presence, your online reviews. Online reviews is actually one of biggest keys to your inbound marketing strategy because Google actually usually prioritizes it when you have stars 5-star reviews on your Google profile or on certain online review sites. These are things that people look at when they search for you online even before they talk to any of your sales people.
You have to make sure that you’re keeping an eye on all of these different channels because when we talk about social listening, it’s not just social media, it actually extends into also just any platform where people can have conversations on. It can be review sites, it could be forms, it could be blogs. You wanna make sure that you first have an understanding or keeping an eye on all of these different platforms and you know what people are saying so that you can start to improve upon it.
First, be tracking them, and then second, start to have a strategy on how you wanna be improving on each of these different platforms. For example, you should have a separate social media strategy and then a separate online review strategy and then see how you can work on improving each of these platforms based on your strength. If you’re already listening to the conversations, then you know what people like about it, what people don’t like about it, and then you bring your feedback back to your company and you make improvements. You respond to them, you let people know you’re listening, you let people know that you care, this will improve your online reputation as a whole. That would be the way to start incorporating social listening to improving your inbound marketing strategy.
Nathan: That is perfect, Joei. I think that’s a perfect place to wrap this episode too because all of this was just really awesome advice. I just wanna say thank you so much for sharing it all today, for talking about social listening, for giving us some inside tips on what we should all be doing to improve our marketing by listening to our audience. Thank you.
Joei: Thank you so much for having me. I had a lot of fun talking about this.
Nathan: At CoSchedule, we use social listening to build new connections with people interested in organizing their marketing, engage with those people who share our content, and thank those who mention our brand. Now, I think we’ll use social listening for a few more things too, thanks to Joei’s advice. Joei, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
As always, thanks to you for listening to the Actionable Marketing Podcast. You just heard from Joei Chan, the former Content Marketing Manager at Mention. You can catch this episode’s show notes and full transcript at coschedule.com/podcast. While you’re there, check out the other episodes too, they’re pretty great.
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