An Active Social Listening Program is No Longer Optional

If there were any doubt that online conversations have real-world implications, then that doubt is gone. Who would have thought that four weeks into 2021, we would have lived through so many historic events? The latest has been dominating headlines over the last few weeks and does not look to be ending anytime soon. That is the news surrounding r/WallStreetBets and several stocks like GameStop, BlackBerry, and more.

The situation has made one thing clear for everyone in public relations, marketing, and communications. That is that we can no longer ignore the online conversation happening on niche networks. We need to actively monitor the conversations across the web, not just on your social media profiles but on Reddit boards, forums, and in groups not just on the platforms we are active on. The truth is not every time someone mentions your company online will they tag your account. The majority of the time, when someone mentions your brand, they will not be tagging you or even using a hashtag.

Gone are the days where we as B2B communication professionals can rely only on Google news alerts or even the mentions tab on your social media. A comprehensive social listening program is just as important to stay out in front of potential customers and potential issues that can negatively affect your business. Had these hedge funds, financial institutions, etc been monitoring the conversations everywhere they would not have been taken by surprise and save themselves billions of dollars.

There is no shortage of niche social media channels; from Reddit to Clubhouse and new ones popping up almost every day. Staying on top of where the conversations are happening can be overwhelming for any communication professional. That does not mean that you should ignore what is going on. If you are not actively listening to the conversations, you put yourself and the company in the position to be behind the competition at best and in the position to lose billions of dollars at worst.

Many products are available for passive social listening, setting up searches for certain keywords. These tools will give you a view from 10,000 feet up. We at Indicate Media use some but we are not just passively monitoring any mention of our name on various online outlets and keywords that are relevant to us but also actively looking every day to find the conversations that those social listening tools just cannot curate.

Active social listening takes it a lot further. Not just looking at the conversations and searches but also finding what the searches are not collecting. This not only allows you to be mindful of issues that may arise, but it also allows you to find new and different ways to engage with your target audience. When actively listening to the conversations, you are not just reading reports on mentions but actively seeking out where those conversations are taking place.

We have passive searches set up for “Indicate Media,” “IndicateMedia,” and even various misspellings that could occur. This allows us to cover our bases. You will also notice we did not put a hashtag or an“@” symbol on those searches. That is because we want to make sure we capture the conversations of people who are mentioning our name, no matter if they tag our account or hashtag our name or not. Every day we spend time going through all mentions of our brand and keywords, from there if something needs to be elevated we are able to get on top of it in a timely manner.

Having passive searches set up is only half the battle. Not every platform allows you to search posts and many platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn offer private groups where posts will not show up in public searches. So how do you get around that? Having someone who actively participates in those groups is the best start. Not only can they be a point person if people have issues with your company, but they can also stay ahead of issues to prevent you from being blindsided if and when issues become public.

There are also platforms like Reddit. Reddit has been the center of the controversy; the r/WallStreetBets subreddit has led the stock news charge. Reddit boards are great communities, filled with passionate people that could amplify your company’s best qualities or become your biggest vocal opponents. No longer can you ignore this small but hardcore audience. There are subreddits for every passion you can imagine, and that includes B2B tech or finance. People come to these boards to find like-minded people, they learn from one another, and the story of a bad experience can spread like wildfire. We have already seen the real-world impact that this can have on many companies.

New platforms are popping up everywhere. Like Clubhouse, the real-time audio-only social network that has seen its userbase skyrocket over the last few months. Being an invite-only, audio-only with no archiving of content means that the difficulty to monitor the conversation is even more difficult. Staying on top of these growing platforms can be a job in itself and can be challenging to do on your own. Taking it a step further to monitor the conversations is another animal.

Indicate Media is able to help. We offer a comprehensive social media activation and program management service that includes social listening. We understand that it is not enough to write a few social media posts, but also to be actively listening to the conversations. The time is now to start thinking about building your social listening program as a part of your overall social media strategy and execution. Doing one without the other is only half the work. Our expertise will help figure out where you need to be looking so you are not caught off guard.