Why Brands Need to Shut Up and Listen on Social Media

by Dahcia Lyons-Bastien

If I could pinpoint the most important thing us millennials want out of life, I’d bet on the significance of the opportunity for our voices to be heard. Having the medium in which to voice our opinions is important to us but knowing people are actually listening is crucial. The internet has allowed brands to connect directly with target audiences while social media, in many ways, offers specific frequencies (platforms) that provide the ability to listen in on your audience’s public conversations. Most brands are too busy tooting their own horns on social media to take a step back and put their digital ears to the ground in order to really use social listening tactics to find and connect with millennials. Those millennials who, might I add, are a gold-mine of information and not to mention the largest generation with a combined purchasing power of $2.45 trillion worldwide.

Are you listening?

As marketers, we’re constantly obsessing over big data and the changing landscapes of social media, but we tend to forget that the biggest data yield that we own is right at our fingertips — within our audience. Social listeningis the act of monitoring social channels for conversations taking place surrounding a trend, product, service, or otherwise while looking for opportunities to participate in those conversations and engage customers or prospects with valuable information. Social listening goes beyond observing and responding to direction mentions and messages from fans and followers, it takes a more guerilla approach of defining and optimizing keywords relevant to your product/service/industry.

As millennial marketers, our goal is to find and connect with the millennial demo on behalf of our clients in order to understand the audience’s pain points. Once we know that, our priority becomes: how do we solve those problems? And most times, the answer to that question comes directly from the people experiencing them. Millennials constantly share (some may say overshare) information on social media from our favorite drink at Starbucks to a play-by-play of our trip to the local farmer’s market. Social listening inevitably means perking our ears up in the right places, extracting the information received, and then doing something about it.

You’re probably wondering where the “right” and “wrong” places are when it comes to social listening, because I mean, just because your brand doesn’t have an account on Periscope, doesn’t mean that your audience isn’t utilizing the platform to voice their opinions about a problem your product or service provides a solution to. Short answer: there is no direct formula for where and when to use social listening tactics but if you listen closely you’ll uncover certain things:

  1. Demographics — You probably think you know everything you need to know about the demo that your brand is targeting, but within the millennial demographic, there are levels and levels of segments that you can discover with social listening
  2. Competition — If you use the right keywords pertaining to your industry, it is inevitable that you’ll stumble on information about your competitors which will give you a leg up and an opportunity to listen in to what they may be doing wrong and capitalize on those things
  3. Attitude + Psychographics — Understanding the segment of millennials you’re targeting beyond their ASL (age, sex location) will provide valuable insights including triggers in their buying process and genuine sentiments about your product or service.

Listen up!

Social listening is like constantly tuning in to an informal focus group to help you refine your product or service while having the ability to produce and provide valuable information based on your findings. Plainly, what I’m saying is: if brands would just shut up and listen up they will hear what millennials are saying.

If you’re really wondering what tools you can use to listen in what millennials are talking about, start here.

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