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One of the most effective ways of communicating is listening.

This isn’t just relevant for our relationships. It’s crucial for helping your business grow!And when using social media as a tool to help your business grow, Social Listening plays a huge role in how effective you are.

Social Listening

If you haven’t already read our break down of the Social Media Success Cycle, you can go back and read-up.

But for you eager and bright students, recall that Social Listening is the first step in the cycle to monetizing social media? Here’s a quick review of the four steps:

  1. Social Listening:
  • Conversations and reflections on the social web, both positive and negative, about your brand, key members of your organization, and products.
  1. Social Influencing:
  • Spreading valuable content around the web that builds trust and authority.
  1. Social Networking:
  • Finding authority figures and colleagues, earning media mentions, joint partnerships with you.
  1. Social Selling:
  • Generating leads and sales within the web.

All principles apply when you have a business. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or working for a Fortune 100 company. So, listen up!

Failing at Social Media

Social media has happened to us.  We cannot ignore it.  All companies have a presence. Some thrive in social media while others have been dragged into it and have found ways to epically fail at it! Here are some examples for you so you know what to avoid!

  • Biggest fail in social media is not answering the social media phone. Examples?
  • A personal post that is accidentally posted to a large nonprofit.
  • A praise post that goes unacknowledged.
  • A concern post that receives no acknowledgement or solution.
  • A rant post that does not get a reply.
  • You think of Twitter and Facebook as places to post when hearing complaints and praise. But other areas have comments that need monitoring.

Listening Is an Expectation

Social Listening is a inherent expectation, it acts a customer service channel.  Your clients, prospects and customers expect you to be listening on social media. Effective listening means effective responses.

You need to listen before you can layer on any of the other steps of the social media success cycle. In this sense, listening is Foundational – it informs the other stages of social media:

  • Social Influencing – what content to create? Listen and understand.
  • Social Networking – allows you to find partner organizations to earn media mentions through the Listening program.
  • Social Selling – What do they respond to? What do peeps need?  What are they asking for?

Your Goals for Social Listening.

If you’re not showing up and answering the social telephone, you’re not managing your reputation, increasing retention or reducing refunds.  You need to reply to “it isn’t working” or “how do I do it?” Neglecting this responsibility means losing client and customer retention.

Your goals can be broken up into categories:

  • Reputation management
  • Damaging or hurtful contexts for your content need to be managed. Pull content when damaging, and increase presence when you can praise or lift your reputation.
  • Reduce refunds | increase retention
  • Stay connected to help achieve these two goals.
  • Connect this back to business goals: revenue and cost.
  • Customer service will affect ability to reduce refunds/increase retention.
  • Identify product gaps
  • Your product team needs to see this feedback
  • Identify content gaps
  • Your social listening activities will influence the remaining social media activities, including social influencing.
  • Look for solutions that can be resolved by publishing content, or by referring to customer service or your product team.

Some Tools to Help You!

Tools represent different levels of financial commitment and features. Here are some from least to most expensive:

  • Google Alerts
  • Shoestring budget version – is free.
  • Put quotes around term, e.g., “Ryan Deiss.”
  • Mentions (Direct Marketing uses this tool – but check around for your needs)
  • Can listen in multiple sets of areas with multiple sets of keywords.
  • Negative keywords.
  • Listen for this, but only if not mentioned with that.
  • Nice metrics and reporting features.
  • Sends emails with mentions on your brands.
  • May suit a small-medium organization with 1-2 peeps handling social media.
  • Radian6
  • Is an Enterprise-level listening program.
  • Advanced reporting, feedback loops, integration with CRM.

Enacting Positive Effects With Social Listening

Ok, so you know how to listen, you have your tools, but how do you make sure your social listening program has a positive effect on the organization?  Use metrics to measure:

  • Reputation score
  • Retention rate: subscriptions and continuity programs
  • Refund reduction rate
  • Qualitative measurements:
  • How many product or content gaps are identified?
  • Where are the descriptions for those?

Most tools have a Sentiment Score or Reputation Score (except Google Alerts) built into them. However “Mentions” have less sophisticated ability to show reputation or sentiment.  So you have to manually set a baseline number with your data

Example: How many are saying negative things vs. positive things about you/your organization?

As for the retention or refund rate, this is common sense: it is easier to retain the customers you have than get new ones. But, it takes a little bit more for you to measure the retention rate:

How to measure retention rate: Follow this formula

Step 1:  Choose a time period.  Measure daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly?

Step 2: (Ce)Determine how many customers you had at the end of that period.

Step 3: (Ca) Determine how many customers were acquired during that period.

Step 4: (Cs)Determine how many customers you had at the start of that period.

Step 5:  Run the formula:  (Ce – Ca)/Cs as a %.


1,025 customers at end of January (Ce)

Acquired 50 customers during January (Ca)

1,000 customers at start of January (Cs)

(1025 – 50) / 1000 = 97.5%  January retention rate

Identifying, Reporting and Resolving gaps requires qualitative metrics. This will help you identify and describe content gaps and subscription issues as they lead up the chain. This requires an effective feedback loop so that the issues can be fully identified, closed, and remedied.

  1. Community member voices an issue.
  1. Community manager listens and responds within 12 hours:
  • With a “you’ve been heard” response to acknowledge community member
  1. Community manager routes to appropriate person for resolution within 24 hours.
  • Asks: Is this a customer service issue? Content issue? Product issue?
  • Decide: Will your team handle the issue directly OR write the response for you to post to the community member?
  • Tools to set this up.
  • What if the responsibility overlaps?

Example 1: Content can be used to resolve some customer issues. It can be sent at any time and reduces costs by using auto-responders (no calls, emails).

Example 2: Content can be used to foster new product development.

Use Social Listening To Drive Business Decisions.

We have to figure out who we should listen to! Putting all our listening efforts across too many sectors is inefficient and will dilute your informative date. Think of it broken down like this:

Brands – Listen for topics and subtopics. EG: if you are Coca Cola, you’d be listening to Sprite and other major brands.

Topics – What topics do you want to be part of?

Competitors – What are they up to?

Influencers – Listen to the influential blogs in your space.

People – in your organization.

The Importance of Customer Service in Listening

How we respond inside social media is really just common human sense. We know how incredibly maddening it is when we feel ignored, discarded, or incapable of finding someone to help us!

So to help you out, here is our 3-Step Social Customer Service Plan to teach Community Managers assigned to handle these issues. And remember:  everything is out there for the public to see!

  1. Respond in a timely manner.
  • Know the time periods in which you are expected to reply.
  • May be other individuals involved in the Feedback Loop.
  • Must send “you’ve been heard” response.
  • Acknowledge that you’re a human being, and you understand that this person is frustrated and you’re sorry for that.
  1. Move it to a private channel.
  • Get the conversation out of the public forum.
  • Your organization decides where this conversation will take place.
  • Move it to a support ticket, phone number, or private message.
  • Have very short conversations with peeps who are upset on a public forum.
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