Dec.16

Social Intelligence Feedback Loop for Small Businesses – Social Listening

Let’s start right from the beginning. How did you come up with your small business venture? What inspired you? Did you find a niche to fill? What were the first steps after you came up with the idea?

Do you remember asking those questions before you started your venture? How does the first days of a business relate to social media at all? Everything actually.

Social media is not another world like Narnia. It is the world today; the lines between the physical and the digital are blurred so much that it’s nearly impossible to tell our existence online and offline apart. We live in an interconnected mosaic of the digital and physical. What happens online is just as important as what happens offline for your business.

When you started your business, you may have kept your ears open and listened a lot. You may have listened to colleagues express frustrations about a service or your own family felt no one is addressing one specific issue where people would actually pay for. Through this, you probably came up with a business idea which through near endless feedback, you crafted a business plan. After more bouts of feedback from friends, families, neighbours and colleagues, your small business is open for well… business.

This is essentially social listening. Let’s revisit our original definition from yesterday’s post:

Social listening is how you monitor your digital channels (customers, competitors, products) and come up with a strategy that can potentially influence new and existing customers.”

You are scouring the web for specific topics, names and issues to help your business. I love to compare social listening to selectively listening over someone’s conversation in a coffee shop. I came up with many ideas just to hearing what people talk about. This is what social listening is, overhearing what people are saying on social media.

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There is one problem. You need a team of millions of people trying to find those signals in an endless nexus of internet noise. It’s nearly impossible to find what you are looking for, even among locals. This is where software as a service (SaaS) comes in.

You can use social listening for any part of your business, but it’s incredibly valuable for marketing. Social listening is an easy way to get  feel of what’s going on without actively searching through Facebook or Twitter. Small businesses can subscribe to a social listening SaaS to find out what social media users are saying about any number of things. For example, you can look into listening on what are people in your town are saying about Christmas or the sale you just launched.

New small businesses can even set to listen in on what people are saying about them. Social listening is a great way to find out where are people interacting the most so you can focus on marketing using different social media channels. You may noticed that most new cusotmers are talking about your new barbershop on Instagram because new cusotmers are posting selfies and tagging your shop in the photos. There are a number of possibilities but the idea is to a) find topics of interest with real users talking about something and b) identify potential locations to focus your digital marketing efforts.

Mention is the social listening service we highly recommend. You are identify influences, engage with your social following and generate quick easy to read reports of where your small business was mentioned. You can listen in on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, LinkedIn and RSS feeds. Basically if any new content about your small business is being pushed out, chances are Mention can find and report it.

Example: 
I’ll share a quick story of how Crowdbabble uses Mention. Crowdbabble was recently profiled in a podcast but we had no idea that it existed. Mention sent us a report that cited that a profile on LinkedIn mentioned Crowdbabble in their slide deck which was a summary sheet for their podcast. We then backtracked the user to the podcast and discovered we were on his show. Without using Mention, I don’t think we could’ve known that Crowdbabble was on that Podcast until much later or simply by luck. Now that we know about the podcast, we are working on a strategy to promote it.

Unfortunately, social listening services can be expensive. There is a huge price range for social listening services. Many services are often out of the price range for small businesses and some have a steep learning curve. We recommend Mention because for a small business starting out, the pricing is quite fair and is scalable if the business grows.

With Mention, we can determine what people are saying about our small business/industry,  who is saying it and where they are sharing their thoughts. All of this valuable information when you want to create a marketing campaign. It can help you develop a hyper targeted campaign that yields more sales and growth for your small business.