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The Importance of Social Listening

Social listening is becoming king. In this modern age, we spend a lot of time glued to our phones.

A study by RescueTime revealed that on average we spend around three hours and 15 minutes interacting with our phones every day! With so much of our time being spent staring at our screens, it is no wonder that social media usage is also on the rise – with the average person spending 144 minutes on social networking apps every day.

This means that social media should be playing an important role in your digital communications, but in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries interacting with consumers and creating useful and engaging content is increasingly difficult.

However, with over one billion Facebook messages being sent by customers each year, and over 40% of people admitting their choice of doctor or hospital is affected by what they read on social media, your digital communications must be as effective as possible.

One way to ensure that your customer service levels remain high is by incorporating a social listening strategy as an essential part of your digital communication plan.

What is social listening?

In simple terms, social listening is a process of tracking your mentions and any conversations that are happening about your brand on social media. Once you have been able to collate and monitor this information, you can then take action.

This action could be as simple as responding to a customer, or it could be something more in-depth such as changing the position of your digital presence. Unlike monitoring, which looks at measurable metrics such as the number of engagements per post, social listening helps you to understand the reasons behind these engagements; letting you know how customers are feeling about your brand.

Once you have been able to understand how consumers are interacting and feeling about your brand, you can then tailor your digital communications to reflect this.

Seven Steps to get your brand social listening…

By adopting social listening into your digital strategy, you will be able to enjoy a significant competitive advantage – with Social Media Marketing University finding that only 24% of brands currently engage in some form of it.

To help you establish effective social listening, we have put together a seven-step guide:

  • Decide which social networks to listen in on

Every year, a new social media platform becomes the next big thing so you might be confused as to which channels you should be following. In an ideal world, you will be listening to conversations on every platform, however, this is not always feasible so the best thing to start with is to focus on those social media networks where your demographics are most active.

If your target audience is younger, then Instagram should be your first destination followed by Facebook and Twitter – however, if your demographic is older, then perhaps LinkedIn will be more beneficial. Whichever you choose, just start with one so you can build and understand your strategies before adding further social networks.

  • Select the right tool

Once you have established which social platforms you will be listening too, you should then select a tool to help you. Although it is possible to do this manually, that can be a very time-consuming task and often result in you missing important conversations.

Thankfully, there are several tools out there to help you listen in on your consumers, from Google Alerts to dedicated programs such as Hootsuite and Brand Mentions. Try a few out to find one that you are comfortable using and provides you with the information that you need.

  • Set up alerts

Alongside these tools, the best way to keep track of the conversations that are happening about your brand is to set up alerts for keywords. This will let you get real-time notifications every time someone mentions your company name or selected key phrase.

These phrases can be anything that you would like, so choose some that are most relevant to you – these are not set in stone and can be changed, so try out a few and swap them around as required.

  • Know when to respond

Now you have your alerts set up and tools established, it is time to jump in on those conversations. Research by Mention.com has shown that Twitter is the most active for company mentions, which is no surprise given how the platform work, but whichever social network you are listening to make sure you respond as swiftly and correctly as possible.

Depending on your resources, your response could be in a matter of minutes while for others it could be 24 hours. However, the quicker you engage with your consumers, the better their experience and the bigger edge you will enjoy over your competitors.

  • Answer complaints as best as you can

Social media great for enabling you to interact and engage with fans in a fun manner, but it also makes it very easy for customers to publicly complain. If during your social listening methods you find a complaint, then address it as quickly, and as fully, as you can.

As most people will complain publicly, a great tip to stop it spreading or causing you unwanted negative press is to try and take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. To do this, publicly reply asking for them to send a direct message with more information or for a contact email/telephone number.

  • Engage with the positive comments

When it comes to social listening, it can be very easy to simply focus on the negative comments. Although these should be your priority, do not ignore the positive comments either – you can often find some of your best reviews on social media!

These comments and conversations do not require in-depth answers – often just acknowledging them with a thank you is all you need to do. However, by acknowledging them you will encourage other users to get involved, helping to boost the positive conversations occurring about your brand; driving more potential customers to your company.

  • Solve before it becomes an issue

Being proactive and actively joining in and responding to conversations about your brand can help you to prevent a customer’s problem before it becomes a major problem. You should also use it to pre-empt any issues that you might face – such as warning customers you are having a technical problem and service might be slower.

Some brands also use social listening as a tool for positive PR, with Toyota giving one Instagram user a brand new truck following a forest fire!

For healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, social listening should form a key aspect of your digital communication strategy. If you are planning to begin your social listening strategy, then it is important that you are not only listening to other healthcare professionals but also patients and carers too.

By listening and engaging with what these consumers are saying will help you to build closer relationships with them, increasing the integrity of your brand, and building lasting loyalty.

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Emma Clayton

Emma Clayton

Emma has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 22 years across sales, marketing and communications, and has been part of some of the largest blockbuster product launches over the years.

Emma has a huge passion for the NHS which is infectious and has been instrumental and a leader for some world class medical education programmes, that not only improve lives but improve efficiencies and value to the NHS.

Connect with Emma on LinkedIn or at emma@greybearconsultancy.co.uk

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