Social listening: what is it and what can you do with it?

You use social listening to get in touch with (potential) customers. You enter into a conversation with them about shared interests. It is a first step, followed by a visit to your site and conversion, followed by the right customer care.

With social listening you can start an online conversation with your (new) customer and show your own knowledge and skills. You can also find this customer in places that you would often not have thought of yourself. A slightly different use of (the same) tooling can lead to interesting and new insights.

What exactly is social listening?

The description that Nathalie Verdoolaege gives it her article here on Frankwatching is:

Following and monitoring all conversations around your organization, brand, product, target group or industry and converting this online buzz into data and advice that you can use.

To have a better understanding of trends and who is talking about what, I would like to expand this with:

  • Discovering trends and developments, and actively responding to them.
  • Finding influencers, thought leaders and leading organizations or individuals for collaboration or as a reference.
  • Gaining new contacts and target groups.
  • Possible (up) sell of your own products / services, although this should be secondary to me.

You can use social listening tools for deployment and reporting. A number of well-known of these in the Netherlands are, for example, Coosto, OBI4wan, Meltwater, Hootsuite Insights and Sprout Social.

Discovering trends & developments

Social listening tools can be seen as a kind of search engine + of social media and authors. Authors in this case include influencers, influential people, institutions and organizations or similar parties with many followers or high engagement with their posts. Trend clouds and hashtags show you the latest developments and relevant topics.

To make it more concrete, an example like “What is Clubhouse?” in trend clouds and hashtags:

Clubhouse hashtags

The words give a good idea of ​​the topics that you can use in and / or for search engines or platforms. The hashtags can serve as inspiration to search and post on platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok. You can also use them for tagging in videos on YouTube or Vimeo.

A first brief look at these clouds shows that Clubhouse is exclusive, there are audio conversations and celebrities sit on it, they work with rooms, that they are some kind of podcasts and that you can listen in.

The hashtags therefore indicate the subjects, persons and instances, instances are referred to in this example. For example, it could be interesting for your brand or organization to talk to them about an interpretation or collaboration. Or to discuss common topics. Even so, hashtags that appear more than once may end up being less applicable after you have studied them more thoroughly.

Topics related to tech, app, Bitcoin, AIVD and (counter) espionage are also mentioned in relation to Clubhouse (or the conversations there). This can provide inspiration for your own messages and expressions.

Buzz creates buzz

You can use these keywords and input for content (creation) on your website, referral pages, forums and conversations on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, blogs, vlogs and videos so that you can be found and show your expertise and authority here . By having a relevant presence and providing and sharing useful information, you will ultimately be indexed higher and more relevant. More people come into contact with your message and they can refer to you as an authority. This is then taken up again by social listening monitoring; buzz creates buzz.

And because there is a referral (‘friend of a friend’), the reliability is often greater and thus also the click-through rate to your site. Because you trust an acquaintance / friend more than a random passer-by, don’t you?

Who are working on ‘your’ topic?

Now that you know which topics are relevant, you can also use the tooling to gain insight into people and authorities who are talking about this.

Authors in overview with engagement, retweets, followers, etc.

In the above overview are several authors who, in this example, talk about Clubhouse. Depending on the sorting by numbers of messages, retweets & reactions or followers, or based on influence, you can view and determine whether you want and can come into contact with these authors (persons / authorities).

Reciprocity and giving

It goes without saying that a proposal is important in which you indicate that you can mean something for the other. Or maybe you can come up with a joint proposition. Reciprocity and giving are important in this. Why would the other person do business with you if it only costs him / her time, money and effort and there is nothing (material or immaterial) in return?

In the case of mutual interest, and if each other’s content is shared, you can get a greater reach and more engagement. Your friend’s friend is also my friend. Networks often have the same interests and trust, which means that content is picked up earlier and labeled as credible and shared with it.

Sharing content can be done in different ways, such as:

  • (Re) tweet each other’s messages
  • Liking messages on social media and other platforms
  • Forwarding and / or posting articles or whitepapers on your own website or on trade websites (think of the source reference)
  • Post this content in your own newsletters or on your own socials

What characteristics for collaboration can you think of?

Determining whether or not messages and parties are relevant to you depends on what is important to you. To make it a more structural form, a collaboration is advisable. I am not talking about elaborate legal agreements here, but a simple e-mail or verbal agreement can also suffice. It is about the intention and what you want to achieve.

The regularity, intention and message of these messages and posts ensure recognisability and branding. What you stand for.

Examples of objectives in such a collaboration are:

  • Range of the other party
  • Number of followers
  • Engagementratio’s
  • Reputation (of yourself and the other party, plus any collaboration and expected goodwill among your potential new target audience that may arise from this)
  • Duration of the collaboration
  • Willingness to share content from each other (sometimes also slightly less relevant and about other topics, but important in the context of the collaboration)
  • Industry / industry in which these authors, influencers and authorities are located (or in which you become known)
  • Budget for possible cooperation

Social listening, what information is there?

The message overview of social listening tools contains websites, platforms, forums and networks where your topic is discussed.

Message overview in social listening tool

It is important that – if you decide to actively engage in a conversation here – you communicate this openly, honestly and transparently: “I am person X of organization Y”. Show your knowledge and expertise from that role.

My opinion here is not to be too commercial immediately and to want that sale / transaction. You usually build a relationship with your customer slowly, you want to get to know your customer and be there when he needs help. Not too pushy, and at the same time not too expectant. Sometimes informative, sometimes helpful and decisive. Your customer also knows that products and services do not always have to be free. Give and take.

Trust, credibility, independent and helpful are better indicators. Of course you can indicate something at a later time such as: “Dear person X, if you want more information, feel free to visit my website and view my product range without obligation.” or: “Feel free to look around and let me know when I can help you further.”

Website & conversie

Have you done your job well, and is your customer / lead on your site… bravo! Now the task is to connect and optimize your services as well as possible from a ‘customer first’ perspective and customer centricity. So that eventually there will be a conversion. This does not necessarily have to be that one sale, but can also be a request, a completed contact form or a download of a whitepaper or brochure.

From this moment on, the customer journey: interaction, engagement and conversation you have with the visitor is of decisive importance. Everything has to be right for the visitor ‘at the front’ and certainly also ‘at the back’, with regard to layout, measurement / tracking codes, testing and conversion goals. So think of analytics, funnels, dropout analysis, keyword research. But also, for example, a (pro) active chat function and conversational engagement.

In addition, the structure and structure of your site is very important. You can think of indexability, content, placement of text and visuals, structure, (internal) link building, and good cornerstone content.

The first step in the online journey

Social listening is a different approach than paid advertising, where a selection of your target group can be made. Advertising remains a more general approach, and sometimes more hail to show your message and intention.

I call social listening ‘step -1’ in the journey your customer goes through if they don’t know you and your website yet. Where the magic happens and a potential customer or lead can actually become a customer. See also the visual below.

Online journey to find, retain and retain customers

I see social listening as an additional way to get in touch with your customer and start a conversation. Ultimately, multiple paths lead to your customer. Which road do you take?


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