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A geeky marketer’s guide to social listening

A quick-and-dirty guide to social listening, and the tools that won’t break the bank

A quick-and-dirty guide to social listening, and the tools that won’t break the bank

A decade ago, when I was a hungry journalist looking for my next scoop, I learned that you can tell a lot about a person by their digital footprint.

This was before the rise of stories with a 24-hour shelf life; just as an entire generation of baby boomers were jumping on the social media bandwagon. Back then, pre-interview stalking research was an arduous, unfiltered journey down the internet rabbit hole. Google searches; online forums; even Myspace status updates. Not to mention sifting through printed news until the ink turned my fingers black.

I’m now a content marketer, but research still plays a major role in my work. Accessing information is easier than ever, although there is a mind-boggling amount of it nowadays. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of social listening tools available to help us glean valuable insights from all that data. Most of these require significant investment, but you don’t have to break the bank to understand your audience.

Here’s how to get started on gathering audience insights:

  1. Find your audience

LinkedIn released Website Demographics, a free reporting tool that helps B2B marketers learn more about who’s visiting their website. It uses data (without breaking any privacy laws) from LinkedIn’s members such as job title, company size, industry, and more, to help optimize content.

  1. Listen to your audience

Understanding the psychology behind search intent is a key component to successful content marketing campaigns. Google Trends shows how particular search terms are tracking against others. This can paint a clear picture of your target audience’s interest in a topic.

For example, if you look up worldwide popularity of the term “Single’s Day” compared to “Cyber Monday” over the last 7 days, you’ll see that more people are searching for Cyber Monday on Google than they are for Single’s Day, which means you should strongly consider incorporating “Cyber Monday” as a keyword in your Single’s Day content in order to boost its visibility. To learn more about Google’s consumer insights tools, click here.

  1. Go where they’re active

BuzzSumo analyzes how specific content topics are performing across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. It narrows down what type of content on that topic is being shared the most, and on what platforms.

For “content marketing” for example, BuzzSumo says the most popular articles are listicles, mostly shared on Facebook. So a long-form article on LinkedIn may not reach the highest possible engagement rate.

This is just a snapshot of what you can achieve with social listening tools. Remember, though, that just because it doesn’t require a significant spend, it still takes time and effort to analyze that data and decide how to shape your campaign.

I assure you though, insights are a worthwhile investment to build a successful marketing strategy. And it sure beats reading through hundreds of newspapers until your fingers turn black.

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