By Arielle Mullen

As the landscape of the internet becomes increasingly crowded, it's becoming more difficult for businesses to stand out from their competition. Adding to the challenge is the fact that consumers are getting better at tuning out the near-constant barrage of advertising coming for them from every angle. The noise of the internet and the advertising landscape shows no signs of slowing, so how are marketers expected to capture the attention of their target audience and stand out from their competition? 

Simply put, the most effective strategy available is to fully understand your audience. Having a thorough and comprehensive grasp of who they are, what challenges they possess at each stage of the buyer's journey, and the conversations taking place around those topics, is the best way to differentiate yourself from your competition. This is where social listening comes in. 

Social listening is essentially the practice of using technology to monitor keywords across the internet (particularly on social media), in order to catalog the relevant mentions from a particular audience.

 Businesses leverage social listening in a variety of ways, from social customer care, protecting brand identity, engaging with influencers, and many more. For our purposes today we're taking you through a few ways to you and your business can utilize social listening to boost your marketing efforts. 

Create better content

A recent study by Ascend2 found that content marketing is the most effective tactic used by 58% of marketing professionals. The problem is that more and more companies are beginning to recognize the inherent value of leveraging a content marketing approach. It's precisely because of the heightened competition that now more than ever, businesses need to understand which of their articles are the most clicked-on, shared, etc. They need to know what topics their audience is interested in and their preferred length and format of content in order to create the content that will best resonate with them. By using social listening, a business can test different headlines and formats, ensuring the time invested in content creation will not go to waste. 

Tip: Conduct searches on relevant topics to your industry, and track the most shared content to identify recurring patterns and trends. 

Check out your competition

Chances are, you can already name the top 3-5 competitors in your industry. Use social listening to understand where they're participating, which topics and content formats are most successful for them, identify potential weaknesses, and learn from the tactics that work well for them. 

Tip: Perform regular assessments of your competition and use your findings to refine your marketing strategy and gain a deeper understanding of your shared target audience.

Support marketing campaigns

A marketing campaign aimed at boosting brand awareness will most often rely on a KPI of reach and engagement. One simple way to help maximize the effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign is to encourage people to share your content with a branded hashtag. A dedicated hashtag will help boost SEO, and ensure your business can earn the most mileage from their campaign budget. 

Tip: Run a social media audit prior to a brand awareness campaign, in order to ensure the proposed brand hashtag isn't already in use by another company. 

Ultimately, the insights gathered with social listening are only valuable if you use them to inform the choices you make in the future. If you'd like help in refining your brand's marketing strategy, we recommend our Digital Marketing Essentials Plan. This plan is perfect for any business that's interested in maximizing their marketing budget and streamlining their efforts to ensure maximum impact. Learn more about our Essentials Plan, or schedule a consultation below. 

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