Social media platforms are at the forefront of communications, and where most of the leads are being generated. Whenever a small business or enterprise uses social media promotion, it is important for them to be armed with the most sophisticated social media listening services at their fingertips.
SearchTarget defines social media listening, as the process of identifying and assessing what is being said about a company, individual, product or brand on the web.
Top Social Media Monitoring Tools at Your Disposal
Trying to collect these conversations from each channel is one time-consuming task, and that’s where social media monitoring tools come in. Here are the top six tools that will take your social listening to a whole new level.
SentiOne is a user-friendly and effective social media monitoring resource. Not only does it keep tabs on your brands mentions, but you can interact in real-time with your audience. The tool is available in 24 languages, and includes key features from the 12 types of social media listeners. In addition, its capabilities for online reputation management provide comprehensive analytics which can be used to further understand what works, what doesn’t, why, and spot user behavior, patterns, and future trends.
Here is the main problem of today’s Social Web: many brands are still passive. If you, as a consumer, have an urgent need, and wish to reach out to your favorite brand, you do it with the mindset that this present need will not be met right away. In a way, the consumer loses hope of getting an instant response even before sending a message, because most of the times, there is no real-time engagement. If you use the Facebook search graph to identify the pages of your favorite brands in your country, for example, most brand pages will display a response rate of under 75%, and “likely to respond in within a day”.
By offering a real-time engagement solution, tools such as SentiOne manage to create a space of connection for brands and consumers. This helps enterprises in staying connected with their audiences independent of region, country, industry – which is the basis of a functional, healthy community.
#2. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is another easy-to-use tool. You have important functions like integrated analytics. The ability to schedule and queue posts from the different social networks enables users to really target their message, and save time in the process. What could be added down the road to the software is being able to get a consolidated report.
When coordinating multiple teams (marketing, local marketing group, dealerships and supporting agencies), Falcon.io makes collaboration simple, and ensures a consistent brand message. It means the incorporated functionality allows the targeting of their messages to be similar across different locations.
The social media monitoring tool options from Oktopost offer in-depth reporting. It is a fantastic data-driven marketing software since you can track conversions dollar-for-dollar. No need for previous experience, or a dedicated social media person or team. What some users have reported missing is the integrated customer service function within the tool. But the tool offers plenty of advantages in terms of ROI. This article explains more.
Hootsuite has been around for many years. The software allows you to monitor keywords, manage multiple social media accounts and schedule posts. You can view all your social networks within a single place. Aside from the comprehensive functionality and reporting, the cost compared to the rest of the competition makes one wonder why it is not more affordable.
One issue to look out for though is the scheduling part: if not setup accordingly, you can wake up one morning to find your Twitter filled with “monologues” of text without any actual links or images. Happened to many!
The AgoraPulse tool can be characterized as a social media marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) suite. A lot of ease in scheduling, managing, and publishing posts across different social media platforms. The only functionality to be addressed is you cannot group social media channels per brand along with the scheduled publications in a brand group.
Social Media Care and The Importance of Social Media Monitoring
The use of social media care, social media customer service, is the process of answering questions from users about your products and services in a specific time frame. According to Socialbakers, “Using social listening to generate leads means tracking conversation around your own company and your competition in order to discover interested prospects.”
Another important aspect is it allows businesses and organizations to leverage their online reputation. Answering within a reasonable time frame to posts by users shows the brand is listening, and makes interactions more meaningful since you are responding to concerns.
Compiling these top social listening tools was the result of examining reviews and references via G2Crowd. All these tools stood out from tens of apps and software solutions available worldwide, each offering unique features to their respective markets.
Beyond social media listening, it is clear just how much of an impact social media marketing has on our daily lives. Not just as brands, but also as consumers. Brands can no longer rely solely on pushing sales pitches. It’s time to upgrade: they must resort on effective story-telling, and addressing questions from potential customers.
Just like Gary Vee said in one of his LinkedIn video stories, discussing why ToysRUs disappeared, “If you don’t upgrade, you die” – a bit harsh, but it’s the truth. If you’re not following the consumers and their path, you won’t ever meet them half way.
I was sitting in a hookah bar one day, enjoying my sheesha when a woman walked over to my table and asked if I could give her two minutes.
After a quick greeting, she started asking some general questions like how I earned a living, what my typical day looked like, whether or not I smoked cigarettes, how much I spent on smoking each month and a few others.
I immediately understood that she was working for some upcoming cigarette brand and was researching personas.
I liked how they had chosen hookah bars for this purpose as people who smoke hookahs are easier to convert to a specific brand of cigarettes, compared to those who are already addicted to a certain brand of cigarette.
The incident made me realize, once more, that regardless of the size of a business, or whether it’s an established one or a startup, businesses always need buyer persona research to better understand their target audience to create marketing strategies that are highly-effective and engaging.
In my opinion creating and executing marketing strategies without the buyer’s persona is like shooting arrows in the dark. You don’t know if you’re going to hit the mark. In simple words, buyer’s persona is essential to making informed and powerful marketing decisions that save costs and bring desired results, faster.
Why is buyer’s persona important?
- Researching buyer’s persona for your company has multiple benefits, including; Your marketing campaigns are based on your target audience instead of a random study that you found online that might or might not apply to your business.
- Your customer service will be better aligned to the values and needs of your customers. Buyer’s persona will help guide you about your target audience and the kind of service they expect from your company. You can then train your customer service department accordingly.
- Your buyer’s persona will provide you with clear directions on how to create your messaging, product and service in a way that resonates strongly with each of your customers, instead of reaching out to everyone with the same line of reasoning. .
The alignment in your messaging, marketing and customer services that your buyer’s persona will afford you will naturally result in an increase in sales and better customer retention.
What is a negative persona?
The buyer’s persona discussed above helps you find out who your ideal customer is, what he does, where he works, his problems and the kind of solutions he expects from your business.
Negative (or exclusionary) personas are people who do not fall into your target audience or are generally a misfit with some or all aspects of your product or service, are too expensive to retain or are over or under-qualified for your product or service.
Let’s suppose you offer beginner or intermediate level digital marketing courses. People who have worked for six years or more in the digital marketing industry or are currently holding senior managerial positions within the industry will fall under the negative persona category for your business.
How to create buyer’s persona?
Buyer’s persona can be created via interviews, research and surveys.
In order to make up the various business personas, we have to interview existing customers, prospects and referrals.
The answers that we get from all three of these categories will provide us with valuable data, and help us learn about our own products and services, understand customer expectation, recognize areas that need improvement, and better comprehend practices that are a big hit with customers.
Here are the three types of people you can interview to create buyer personas.
Your customers are one of the best resources to help you create your buyer’s persona document. However, this is not applicable to new businesses that are still working to create a customer base.
People who have purchased from your website before are better able to explain more about how they felt, whether the product met their expectation or not and what else they want to see happening in your business.
While interviewing your existing customers, make sure you also include a few unhappy ones in the list because their feedback will shed light on those areas of your business, product or service that require improvement.
Your Business Prospects
This is the second step in developing the buyers’ persona. It’s also important to interview people who haven’t bought anything from you yet.
Understanding your prospects better will not only give them the impression that you are a responsible brand that is concerned about its customers, but the information provided by them will help you build a better and more detailed buyer’s persona document.
If you are new business, you are pretty much left to depend on referrals only as you might not have substantial number of customers or prospects.
Interviewing referrals is still important even if you have a large customer base because referrals will gives you varied buyer personas to work with.
The best way to find people via referrals is through your contacts, or you could also find your target persona on LinkedIn and then catch up with them through mutual friends.
You can try tools like UserTesting and similar services to run questions and get answers from different people. The website also allows you to run remote user testing (with some follow-up questions). You’ll have less control over sessions, but it’s a great resource for quick user testing.
When interviewing people, it’s always good to invest whenever required.
So, if you want to give away some gifts, discounts or special bonuses to your referrals or customers for their support, by all means do.
Also, remember that their time is as important as yours, so your questionnaire should be concise and to-the-point. Most importantly, do not sell. You are trying to collect the data, so stay focused.
What questions should you ask?
This one is very important. What kind of questions should you ask your interviewees to get a detailed understanding of your buyer’s persona?
You need to know the Who, What, Why and How…
Here are the few questions you should be asking;
- What do they do? (Job title, position in the company.)
- What does their typical day look like?(This will tell you more about his routine.)
- What skills are required to do their particular job? (Ask this question only if your product requires it.)
- What industry is their company part of?
- Size and revenue of the company?
- What is their biggest challenge?
- What do they read? (Both online and offline)
- Which social media platform are they most active on? (Facebook, Twitter or any other?)
- Personal and educational background? (This covers everything from name, age to location, educational background and anything else that’s relevant.)
- Preferred purchasing method and why? (Also, discuss their most recent purchase and understand the philosophy behind it)
Now that you have some substantial raw data, the next step is to sort it out, find commonalities between people, and then organize those points into different personas. It should look something like this:
Sort that data and make a list of fictional characters that explain in detail the characteristics of your current and potential target audience. If your marketing strategies will be based on your targeted persona, there will be more chances for you to increase your customer’s lifetime value
Once you have a better idea of your buyer’s persona you will know how to train your customer service team to serve your customers best, and see the changes required within the marketing and sales strategy to acquire and retain customers.
So if you don’t have a buyer’s persona document, start building one today!
What’s your prediction: What will eventually happen to Google Plus and WHEN will it happen (months? a year? 10 years?)
Jon Wade (Blogger)
What do you think is the future of Google PlusI assume that Google plan to demerge some of their core areas to improve usability and engagement. Few people liked the integration of Youtube and G+ and while many photographers used G+, Picasaweb provided a better platform in many ways.Google will keep Google+, but maybe it will be more geared to networking, hangouts, chat and news sharing. I cannot see it ever going away because Google use it for so many core services now.
How often do you use Google Plus? I use it daily. I will miss it if it goes away because Google is the most professional social platform in the tech / Internet. Discussions are far more civilized and mature than elsewhere. But, I don’t think it will go away in a hurry!
Steve “berto” Bertolacci (The Beard of SEO)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?My prediction is that G+ will go through another re-branding, but will by and large remain the same. Streams are the new Circles — #amazeballs. One of the needs that G+ fit was the ability to segment a social site based off your own personal interests as you define.So rather than have every connection all jumbled together, you can watch and interact with each Stream individually or as a whole. This need has not really been done better in any other social site, so there’s still a need to keep supporting it.So in terms of re-branding, I’m betting it will happen this summer if not sooner.The real question is what will happen to Twitter.
How often do you use Google Plus? Yes, I use G+ for both personal and work related things. And yes, I would miss it if it weren’t there. G+ fits a niche that doesn’t exist on most other social sites.
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I’d say about a year we’ll see a further fragmentation and then a disintegration in the most part. Google may split its stronger/ useful parts into new services or use them in different ways. I did a MBU interview on Google Authorship and its future – general consensus was it’s probably dead too. It was a big part of G+ for a lot of us in this industry I’d imagine. All change so!
How often do you use Google Plus? I’m a semi-active Google+ user. It’s was a fine platform in a lot of ways but just lacked the x-factor – an identity. It was a sum of a number of other social media site’s parts. When I think of social media sites this is what I associate:
I think it speaks volumes why it never took off. Then again the last social network I truly loved was Bebo.So, in a few words, no I don’t really care!
- Facebook – the big one I use everyday
- Twitter – the short, trending one for news and up to the second opinions
- Instagram – the retro, cool picture one
- Pinterest – the one with lots of wedding dresses and soft furnishings
- Google+ – the one that’s a bit of all of these that Google (or the SEO communities paranoia) made SEOs obliged to use
Erik Emanuelli (No Passive Income)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?When Google Authorship was killed, I found it an injustice to users. After all, it is known that Big G has reached an extreme power and their commercial purpose is known to many.Regarding the Google + social platform, I don’t think is going to close, but surely there will be some major improvements.Whether will be the future of Google+, a lesson learned is not putting all your digital marketing eggs in one basket.Relying “just” on Google (its services or traffic) is a bad move, we should become “independent” and include “all things about Google” only as a part of our whole business strategy.
How often do you use Google Plus? I’m not a Google+ addicted, as I post updates in my profile just once every week.Surely I will not miss it if it’s going to be removed.My favorite social media channel for marketing still remains Twitter.
Jason Quey (Gamification Marketer)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?Personally, I don’t see Google+ really going away. Although Google has been detaching itself from the project, there is a large enough user base that someone will finally find the right use for it.I’ve noticed a lot of teens have started to gravitate toward using G+ over Facebook, perhaps because they enjoy the exclusivity away from their parents prying eyes, but without the debauchery of SnapChat.
How often do you use Google Plus? I currently use G+ about once a week, but I see a lot of potential value in it. The two biggest upsides to it is segmenting your users and creating/joining a community that can also let the users know about what’s happening in their inbox.There’s also some value in having your search results pop up with your name and picture to those you’ve connected with too.
Todd Mumford (Founder & CEO of Riverbed Marketing)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?Google + never received the kind of traction, nor attracted the audience it was intended to capture. This was mostly because it wasn’t innovative or disruptive enough and other social media networks like Facebook have a deep and meaningful market share. My feeling is that Google + will be a distant memory, probably by 2016.Social communities are building at the experience level now, independent of specific networks. Facebook is likely the last to market for large scale social startups. The new trend is social experiences, on the toes of the “Internet of Things”. Social networks will ultimately be a thing of the past as “social networks” are absorbed into “social experiences” and baked into the product, service and living level.
How often do you use Google Plus? I see Google+ more as a necessary place that you should have a presence on, so long as it’s live. It’s Google’s owned social entity and this fact should not be ignored. Despite the lack of participants it could still be a disadvantage to not be there. I’ll make sure we have a presence there so long as it’s available, but I would not miss it if it was canned tomorrow.
David Leonhardt (President, THGM Writers)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I am not totally sure what the implications of splitting the social network from the photo galleries could be. Perhaps Google wants to do something more with the photo galleries. Google Plus is much bigger than predecessors like Google Buzz, so I am wagering that they won’t close it down. With Communities, Circles and Hangouts, it is also a richer experience that FaceBook and LinkedIn don’t match. My money (and time and effort) is on Google Plus remaining for the long haul.
How often do you use Google Plus? I love Google Plus and I use it more than any other social network. I have over 40,000 followers, and I have put a lot of effort into building those connections. I would miss it terribly if it was closed down.
Brian Lang (Small Business Ideas Blog)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I don’t think Google will completely kill of Google Plus. This isn’t the first time Google’s tried to create a social network, so it clearly sees value in that. And they already have a sizable group of active Google Plus users.Instead, I think Google will morph it into something else that aligns with its own goals. I would guess that they would make changes so that they can incorporate ads easier. But more importantly, they will also make changes to try to attract new users.It’s hard to say when these changes will occur, but considering the recent announcement from Bradley Horowitz, I think something will happen sooner rather than later.
How often do you use Google Plus? I’d say I’m a semi-active G+ user. I would miss it if it went away as it does provide another platform to connect with others.
Don Sturgill (Writer, Dreamer, Believer)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?The future of G+? It will continue to mean less and less. Devotees will move elsewhere. And — if Google keeps showing its monster face — the whole deck of cards will tumble behind it.This year… Google+ becomes the home of Google fanboys and girls. Everyone else moves to Ann Smarty’s new social media platform: Don’t be evil (really) 🙂Here’s the rock and hard place: Entreprenuers start off with visions of saving the world. Successful startups end up being either sold off to the highest bidder or taken over by corporate cogs.All you have left is the once-trusted brand name. But the core becomes rotten. Such is life…
How often do you use Google Plus?I had big hopes for Google+… I bought into the hype about it being the hub of Google, the importance of authorship, how any writer not on G+ was headed towards obscurity.We now know it was all hogwash.It’s just like the “Don’t be evil” motto. At one time, it was believable. Before long, it became obvious Google is committed to no one but Google.Another dream burst.
Peter Lunn (Digital Marketer, Cracking Media UK)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?Despite the continual flow of incorrect and misplaced assumptions by the press on the demise of Google+, I do think Google need to work harder at marketing Google+ and working with the many committed and active users to make it work better for a broader audience.An example is that they re-branded Google Places nearly a year ago to bring Google+ more front and center into Google My Business. But nearly a year on, adoption by business is slow, because most businesses don’t know about it! There’s an initiative for Google My Business in the USA called GYBO, but nowhere else. So in the vacuum of information, the press fills the void with Google+ is dying/dead articles – and people believe them because they don’t know any better.I don’t think we will see decoupling of the products in the way it’s been suggested, but Google will need to do a better job of bringing businesses and people into the “Google+ experience” through marketing the different Google+ products better. When will this be? Of course I don’t know, but I think unless they do so in the next 12-18 months then it may be that Google+ as we know could well be unrecoverable.
How often do you use Google Plus? Yes, I am and have been so for the last 18 months. For me Google+ is the closest social networking experience to offline face-to-face networking. There is a depth and breadth to relationships and engagement that I have not seen before on any other social networking platform
Greg Coopers (Helping small and medium sized businesses use LinkedIn to grow)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?It would make no sense for Google to “desocialise” it’s properties so although Google+ will like other platforms evolve I think it is here to stay in one form or another. In my experience in the UK there is an upsurge of interest in Google+ from the business community who appreciate both the search and local marketing benefits.
How often do you use Google Plus? I am an active G+ user. I have used G+ to build a strong international network and build my personal brand. I don’t believe that G+ will go away it is part of the fabric of what Google do linking together all the key properties. It may however be re-branded and the Google+ name could disappear.
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I am a follower of Gary Vaynerchuk. He’s a social media all-around guy, and when he talks about social media, I listen. Carefully.He said that by 2020, there are two major social media sites that will be shutdown: Google+ and Tumblr (I’ve written about this on one of my posts)GV says that the main reason for the extinction is that both are owned by big corporations, and big corp politics don’t suit social media platforms. So, in my opinion, Google Plus will disappear – just like any other social media platforms before it: Mixx, BusinessWeek’s BX, Chime.in, and so on.To note why I trust GV: He said it on late 2014, and it’s happening right now. So… I think I will have to agree with GV: Google+ will be gone in 5 years time.
How often do you use Google Plus? I’m basically using G+ for broadcasting my blogs’ recent updates. So I don’t think I will miss it. I was one of the first movers and gained some following – easily, so…There are some benefits of getting into G+, but it’s not as significant as before. IMHO, I think Google made a mistake by adding G+ as a perk for SERPs. There are marketers who joined G+ for the wrong reason (read: for SEO) The perk has been pulled out, and what’s left now is plenty dead, fake accounts. Not good.
Denisa-Alexandra Cinca (MyBloggingThing)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I don’t think that Google Plus will ever go away, it’s just my opinion as I don’t see it happening in the near future. I think Google+ will continue to evolve in the future but I’m not sure how things will be in the next years, will just have to wait and see.
How often do you use Google Plus? Yes I am an active Google+ user, usually I share my blog posts on my Google+ profile and in a few communities. If it goes away, yes I think I will definitively miss it.
Jan Kearney (Local Search Consultant)
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?I’m in the Google+ is Google camp. I really don’t think G+ will go away.People have said G+ is dying since 2011, I think it’s because they view it purely as a social platform something like Facebook. That thinking quickly leads to disappointment because people tend not to live their lives out on G+. Public feeds aren’t as cluttered with passive aggressive updates, checkins and pointless statuses saying how people feel today. There’s still cats though…For the average person on the street (like many people I work with) the silence is deafening. They’ll post a few updates and wander off back to Facebook without exploring the idea of posting to specific circles or joining communities – the more social part of G+Yet G+ is still working away in the background via the services they use everyday – Gmail, YouTube, Maps, Chrome and more. Silently collecting data, Google really doesn’t care if you are social or not!No, I don’t think G+ will go away. No doubt it will continue to evolve and change. I would expect a re-brand and relaunch of the social aspect of G+ at some point over the next year or so.
How often do you use Google Plus? On a personal level, I’m not the most active G+ user. Of all the “social” sites it is my favorite and I pop in most days to scan communities and comment.On a business level, Google Places is now Google My Business and an integral part of G+. My days are spent grappling the Google and I’m often logged in clients GMB accounts rather than my own!Will I miss it if G+ goes away? Of course I will, but I don’t think G+ is going anywhere any time soon.
How often do you use Google Plus? Google+ is the only platform I enjoy and use with any regularity.. so yeah, I’ll be a little pissy if they shutter it.
What do you think is the future of Google Plus?You can also find out much more about Google Plus and how to set up your own map using our guide for Google Maps Marketing.The data that Google gains from having their own social layer is something they’ve wanted for many years in order to keep up with Facebook and the other networks.Google+, although smaller than the other networks, provides that value and it is a well designed platform that people truly enjoy using. G+ may not be the Facebook killer many were predicting, but unless there’s a cost to running it that I don’t see, G+ is here to stay.