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Tap into Your 6th Sense with Social Listening

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Welcome back to the Technology Marketing Center Leaders’ Blog for this post from the desktop of Amanda Vande Brake.

Picture yourself wrapping up the ultimate messaging and marketing plan. Each one of your brilliant strategies is accompanied by fresh data rationale, sourced directly from the online activity of your current and prospective audience pools and includes online influencer and competitor data. It’s as if you have access to a sixth sense--one that gives you the ability to see beyond the tired findings available via traditional market research.

Would you be shocked to learn that this sixth sense is immediately available to you, today?

Recently, I’ve been helping clients explore social listening technologies in the interest of micro-tuning their content marketing and product branding efforts. And I’ve discovered that social listening and analytics platforms of all kinds are becoming more accessible and usable, and that the insights available via social listening provide a quantifiable foundation for marketing campaigns and brand platforms.

So, to help get you going, here are my top 5 takeaways on using social listening tools to unlock your strategic marketing sixth sense.

#1 - You can see dead people.

Just like Haley Joel Osment’s character in the 1999 movie The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, director), you will be able to see ghosts when you use social listening technology. The ghosts you’ll see are the billions of global social media users leaving trails of their online behavior in their wake. These trails will include real-time stats on users’ social media activity, topics they’re interested in, influencers they follow, and even the sentiment they have expressed online surrounding specific keywords. All these insights are available as part of individuals’ use of platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook so you don’t have to dig too deep to get to know your new ghost friends and their preferences pretty well.

#2 – Potential customers are relying on you to relay their message.

In our age of limited digital privacy, brands and producers have access to a wealth of publicly available knowledge about their buyers, and buyers know this. In fact, they essentially expect their public data is being mined to some extent to enhance their online experience in some way. Buyers speak through their actions, and it is up to savvy strategic marketers to observe these actions and translate them into effective marketing strategies.

#3 - You will need tools, but they’re cheap and easy to get and use.

Yes, enterprise-level social listening systems exist and are very much worth the investment for even mid-sized companies, in my opinion; however, you need Crimson Hexagon to introduce social listening to your marketing planning cycle as much as you need a Maserati to walk your dog. My go-to, quick-win and light-lifting social listening tools-of-choice are Mention, BuzzSumo, and I typically supplement insights from these platforms with keyword and competitor visibility findings from Moz. Most of these tools offer 30-day free trials and are available on a monthly, moderately priced, basis if you wish to continue having access to invaluable information.

#4 - Some things you won’t want to see, but you should.

As your awareness increases, you will become aware of more than just positive stuff. These findings may range from discovering your CEO’s Twitter influencer rating is exceptionally low to stumbling across brutal comments on your company’s latest product launch. While these findings won’t feel great at first, it’s best that you face the facts, whatever they are. Moreover, it’s best you become aware of them before your competitors do.

#5 - One of the ghosts might be Donnie Wahlberg.

For me, undoubtedly due to my teenage obsession with the New Kids on the Block, the most exciting element of The Sixth Sense was NKOTB member Donnie Wahlberg. Knocking it out of the park, Wahlberg plays Vincent Gray--one of the dead people Haley Joel Osment’s character can see--in his dramatic acting debut.

What’s this got to do with social listening? Well, it’s like this: Sometimes the ghosts you encounter on social listening are just ghosts and sometimes they are straight up celebrities like Donnie Wahlberg who can elevate your brand’s visibility or credibility by distributing or engaging with your content on their channels. Tools like the ones mentioned earlier help you identify influencers who intersect with your brand and your audience’s interests, too; so if you’re not into Donnie Wahlberg, there will be others to put on your influencer list. Then, it’s up to you to engage with the influencer to explore a mutually beneficial social media relationship.

With these tips, I hope you consider giving social listening a try. The reality is your audience is made of up of real people with ever-evolving interests, preferences and opinions, and social listening is a powerful way to ensure your strategic marketing efforts are as relevant and welcomed as possible.

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