Introduction to Social Listening

Just shut your mouth.  I mean really, SHUT.  YOUR.  MOUTH.  It will make you tons of money and save you even more in the way of time lost and frustration.

Have you ever seen someone you liked or wanted to date and presumed or said something stupid and blew your chances with them?  Sure, we all have been there.  The sad reality is that you’re doing the same thing with your prospective customers.  You are presuming what they want based on some competitor’s sales versus talking to your audience themselves.

This is the same as thinking all girls want the same thing in a guy because your bro told you how he landed his girlfriend.  Don’t you think that it would be a much better idea to find a way to get a prospective girlfriend to talk to you about what she values, how she spends her time, and what she is looking for out of life BEFORE trying to impress her based on your preconceived notions??

If you didn’t answer yes to that last question then stop reading and go get a job working for someone else because the ecom game is NOT for you. REAL TALK.

You must realize that by putting a product out there, you are asking your prospects to commit to you.  You are asking a stranger to become your committed “girlfriend”.

Learning to “listen before you speak” is that painful life lesson we learn after saying something well intentioned that came out completely awkward.

Most marketers don’t know where to being in terms of listening to their audience or have even given a thought in terms of making it part of their workflow.

You need to setup a way to find out what your audience wants BEFORE you sell it to them and then setup a feedback loop for continuous improvement in the way of customer experience, product features and opportunity for new products.

This allows you to stop guessing about your audience and make strategic moves instead of tactical moves.

Here are some questions you may have a tough time answering….

  • – Who is your audience?
  • – Do you know how your audience feels about your brand and topics related to what you want to sell?
  • – What topics are they passionate enough to discuss online?
  • – Can you read between the lines and understand what they won’t talk about online related to the topic or niche?
  • – Have you taken their questions, rants, and asks and found a way to connect them with what they want in a manner more effective than your competitors?
  • – Do you know what topics or types of content get the most engagement from your prospective audience?
  • – Do you know what they’ve tried and what has or hasn’t worked and can you give them the product they are really looking for by reading between the lines of their conversations?
  • – How well does your audience trust you as a contributor to their community BEFORE you solicit them to buy your XYZ?Having trouble??  I thought so.  You need to learn the skill of shutting your mouth (telling your audience about your products) and doing some social listening (letting your audience tell you what they want to buy before you sell it to them)

What is Social Listening?

Social listening means sorting the conversations and trends happening around your brand and niche, and using those insights to make better marketing decisions.

Social listening gives you a leg up on the competition because you understand why, where and how the conversations are happening, and what people think about the various topics and your brand.

Want to blast off your future campaigns?  Improve your content strategy for more engagement?  What about build a better influencer program or brand partnership?  You NEED social listening as part of your workflow.

Know the audience of your niche better than the audience or the competition does and you own the audience.

The best part is that most sellers, brands, and marketers only engage in spying on competitors’ ads or products as their version of “social listening”

Social Monitoring (What) vs Social Listening (why)

Social monitoring tells you what, social listening tells you why.

Let’s use the company HiSmile Teeth as an example. They sell a teeth whitening product and have an amazing social customer service experience as well.

As of this writing they have 1.76 million likes and 1.81 million FOLLOWS

Social media monitoring

Social media monitoring involves tracking and responding to all of the messages sent to or about HiSmile Teeth or any of their products and services.

The example above shows HiSmile being on the ball and taking the time to respond to each person to create a real connection. That first message is a genuine concern and by giving a personalized response they not only got a customer but it left a testimonial for others to see in the form of how the brand treats its potential clients.

Social media listening

The photo example also shows how HiSmile could gauge the audience sentiment for both their product AND the ad itself – look at the engagement PER COMMENT.  Huge.  They can take the various questions, comments and responses and answer the important WHY based questions that lead to better marketing, product, and customer service decisions.

In other words, they are getting their audience to talk to them and adjusting their offerings on all fronts until all fronts are optimized.

Listening is about understanding the bigger picture.

3 areas social listening:

Knowing your niche

  • Audience and trends: Are you watching your audience and catering your messages to the demographic and tone of your target crowd?
  • Product and content research: What do they want and what do they engage with the most?
  • Influencers: Who are the “go to” figures in your niche that can really extend the impact and reach of your messages.

Knowing the competition

  • Competitors: Who are your biggest competitors and how big are they on social media?
  • Customer Sentiment: How does the audience respond to your competitors’ social media content and how can you use that insight to your advantage?
  • Don’t re-invent the wheel:  What kind of content is your competition running and how can you do it different or better in a way that is more engaging to your target audience.

Knowing how your audience feels about your brand

  • Brand health: How do your customers feel about your brand?
  • Customer experience: What are the good and bad experiences your customers are having with your brand?  Is it a common occurrence at a certain stage in your process?
  • Campaign analysis: What channels and campaigns are giving the most positive experience to your customers?  The most negative?

Symptoms vs causes

While both listening and monitoring are critical for brands, it isn’t a totally black and white kind of thing.

Think of monitoring as being made aware of the sentiments of your audience – the “what”.  Whereas listening is analyzing all of the data and reading between the lines to figure out what caused those sentiments – the “why”

By responding to the messages, you treat the symptoms with social monitoring. But by digging into trends, messages themes, competitive insights and more, you find the root cause.

Social listening doesn’t take much but it can push you light years past your competitors.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments.

For a deeper discussion, See our Unstoppable FBA Facebook group, and Youtube Channel.

5 replies
  1. Frank Vitalleri
    Frank Vitalleri says:

    Love the insight and follow you on FB. Am a little confused as to where to start with the abovementioned “listening” process. Where do I start with selling a natural /organic product. How do I get to listen and engage with the consumer when my social media platform is non existent??

    • Steven Black
      Steven Black says:

      Find the enthusiast groups within your niche and become a contributing member of those communities. If you sell composting bins as example, then map out what type of other activities people do related to that (organic cooking, organic gardening, gardening, etc.) and become a contributing and participating member of those communities.

      The more you poke the beehive the more the bees will buzz and tell you everything you need to know about what they are really looking for in terms of an end result for their efforts and answers to their problems. Your product is simply the bridge that makes that happen. IT is your job to help people realize that with your content, copywriting, and advertising messages.

  2. Frank Vitalleri
    Frank Vitalleri says:

    Love the insight and follow you on FB. Am a little confused as to where to start with the abovementioned “listening” process. Where do I start with selling a natural /organic product. How do I get to listen and engage with the consumer when my social media platform is non existent??

    • Steven Black
      Steven Black says:


      Go to facebook groups of people who are enthusiasts about natural and organic living as a lifestyle. Homeopathy, organic cooking, organic gardening, composting – those are all subjects that I would look into that people will congregate around and are likely already talking. Reddit boards are also fantastic.

      Keep in mind that your products are simply answers to someone’s questions. The better you get at taking inventory of what they are asking and learning to speak their language, the better you can get the messages about your products across to your intended audience.

      The more time you spend interacting with them, the more you build their trust and the more likely they are to take you up on your offers when you recommend your products.

      Does that help to clarify some things?


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