4 Ways Social Listening Can Help Your Content Marketing Strategy

Abby Gilmore Grant
Abby Gilmore Grant

Director, Client Consulting

Just ten years ago, Facebook had 1 million monthly users, and today that number has grown to more than 1.23 billion. As other social media sites have continued to grow as well, now 72 percent of adult internet users in the U.S. are active on at least one social network, up from just 8 percent in 2005.

With the number of people using social media sites continually on the rise, the wealth of information available is remarkable. And though much of it is useless banter, some can be quite useful to marketers like us, especially when it comes to content marketing.

Social listening can be completed in a number of ways, and there are dozens of tools available to help aggregate social information. However, it is not so much how you get the information that is important, but what you do with it. Here are four ways to use social listening to strengthen your content marketing strategy:

Generate content ideas

According to a 2014 study by Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers site “creating enough content” as their biggest challenge, while 38 percent said “creating a variety of content” is the most trying component of content marketing. Both of these challenges often stem from the same problem: lack of content ideas.

Luckily, social listening can provide an abundance of content ideas for any business. Start by monitoring your own social profiles and brand mentions, then track keywords and #hashtags to find even more ideas. Consider the following:

  • What are people saying about your products or services?
  • What are the most repeated questions asked by prospects and customers?
  • What complaints do people have about your industry?
  • What is the media saying about your industry?

If you are still short on inspiration, consider coming right out and asking your audience what questions they have about your business or industry by posting a question across your social networks. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask!

Discover industry trends

Similarly, social listening can be used to uncover trends through keyword and topic monitoring. Once you begin closely observing keyword usage on a variety of networks, you will start to notice patterns in conversation volume and subject matter. From there, you can compare social listening data to mainstream media industry coverage to see where the two worlds intersect.

Common themes in questions and social discussions can provide a great deal of knowledge that can be used in developing content marketing strategies. Sometimes you will find data that indicates changes are happening in your industry, while other times you’ll find that things are really just staying the same. Not only does this information make for compelling content to share with your audience, it provides the insight necessary to plan new projects, editorial calendars, events and more.

Observe the competition

While you are practicing social listening to inspire new content ideas and uncover industry trends, you can use the same tactics to observe your competition. Visit your competitor’s social profiles and make note of how they are interacting with their audience. Some questions to keep in mind include:

  • Are there lots of conversations going on, or is there a lack of activity?
  • What is the overall audience sentiment?
  • Where are the most conversations happening?
  • What types of content are your competitors sharing?

The answers to the above questions can also be used to identify content gaps. If your competitors are sharing content about a subject that is well received by the audience, audit your own content to be sure you are covering the topic as well. If your competitors are answering questions that you are not, that hole in your content strategy could be costing you customers.

Find influencers and brand advocates

Finally, perhaps one of the most powerful ways to use social listening is by following social conversations to find influencers and brand advocates. While influencers often have clout in the industry, they often have their own agenda. Though influencers can certainly help in content promotion, developing relationships with brand advocates is where the real opportunity lies.

social listening infleuncers
Influencers image via Shutterstock

Brand advocates are those who you don’t need to convince to trust you and your brand – they already do – making them the perfect people to inspire others to follow suit. To identify advocates, look for users who actively participate in online communities, share your content and mention your brand by name.

Once you know who your brand advocates are, make a conscious effort to interact and share content with them regularly. Consider teaming up with advocates for content promotion and distribution to amplify brand influence. Having consumers on your side is always a good thing in marketing – but especially in the digital age we now live in.

I would love to hear about your experiences with social listening. Feel free to leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter @abbygilmore to discuss!


content, content development, content marketing, social content, social listening, social media, social media marketing

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