There’s no need to break the bank to discover what customers are saying about your brand online — or to turn those insights into an impactful social engagement strategy.

As social media increasingly brings brands into direct contact with their audiences, certain social listening strategies can help companies to increase brand visibility, strengthen customer loyalty, and improve audience engagement — all on a slim budget. Rather than simply monitoring trends within your social accounts, social listening transforms widespread analysis into meaningful action.

I spoke with Jonathan Allen, President of L&T Co., who offered expert tips on developing innovative social listening strategies. Over time, implementing these methods can allow marketers on any budget to develop more effective engagement practices, ultimately bringing consumers closer to companies and brands with whom their values align.

5 Social Listening Strategies That Won’t Break the Bank:

 

1. Don’t Let Anything Slip Under the Radar

As you formulate your social listening strategy, Allen suggests building a news detection method by “following categories, tags, or sections from relevant publications.” An excellent resource for following your favorite blogs, publications, or even YouTube channels is feedly. The site allows users to monitor keywords and news related to their own businesses or competitors, to organize content for easy reading and research, and even to schedule automated delivery of social posts or emails with Hootsuite and Buffer.

At the heart of most social listening strategies is a desire to identify customer service opportunities, discover influencers, or watch a particular phrase or hashtag, and building an account through feedly or a similar site will help you stay on track.

2. Pay Attention to Hashtags

Whether your business thrives on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google Plus, endeavor to track and capitalize upon hashtag engagement on every platform.

By following hashtags related to your product, business, or even target age group (particularly on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook) you can optimize engagement while staying abreast of emerging trends. Allen says to “remember that one successful hashtag will often spawn new ones,” so take note of any hashtags that have performed exceptionally well, and use them as a jumping off point. Again, tools like feedly or Keyhole can help you stay in the know.

3. Read Between the Threads

While social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide the most obvious portal into trending hashtags, other less mainstream social sites can also be used to discover buzzworthy topics. Allen suggests Linkedin Groups, Quora, and Reddit threads as useful jumping off points for a deep dive into the topics that your consumers are interested in.

In addition to giving you, as a marketer, a new perspective on the needs of your consumers, emerging patterns of questions and trends may appear on these threads before they make their way to more popular or traditional social forums. In the long run, this could help you address challenges, problems, or even bursts of excitement about a topic related to your company more efficiently — and well before your competitors have the chance to chime in.

4. Stay Trendy

And by that, I mean stay on top of trending topics, issues, and news stories that could impact how people or companies connect to your brand. Allen suggests “Buzzsumo or NewsWhip to find what’s trending on a topic” across the web, and “CrowdTangle is useful if you’d like to see what’s trending among different Facebook communities.”

5. Key In To Keywords

When you’re trying to to determine what topics to look out for and how they connect to one another, Allen suggests beginning with keywords.

Are you working on a campaign that will promote certain brand buzzwords or phrases? “KeywordTool.io has a section that brings up questions related to specific keywords,” Allen says. By plugging your words into the system, you’ll have immediate access to the results that will pop up if someone enters the same search query via Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, or app stores.

When implementing a social listening strategy, keep these tips in mind and know that, over time, social listening and solid content distribution can help to improve audience engagement and strengthen customer loyalty. As long as you you’re willing to commit the time and energy necessary to truly listen to and interact with your audience, a tight budget will never hold you back.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Today.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer social media management services to build a vibrant audience for your brand across all media channels. Learn more about social media and PR here.

Author Remy Bernstein

As L&T’s COO, Remy directs all internal and client operations for L&T. Since joining the team in the the summer of 2014, Remy has overseen the precipitous growth of the company’s full-time staff and client base. He works directly with every member of the L&T team to implement and operationalize new processes, manage client accounts, and produce exemplary content every day. A graduate of Kenyon College, Remy previously worked in the editorial departments at Publishers Weekly and Standard & Poor’s. He specializes in content quality management and scalable business strategies, and relies on his extensive journalism background to supervise dozens of branded digital publications.

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