8 Social Listening Examples: How Brands Are Thriving Digital Landscape

All it takes is for one person to post a comment about your brand, products, or services on social media and suddenly, you’re the hot topic for the day. Before you know it, thousands of people are sharing their experiences to back up or contend with the original post.

If the comments are positive, then your brand has won some free publicity that will win you new customers. But if the conversations have a negative spin, your reputation will suffer, and you can expect to lose some existing and future customers.

Either way, you need to respond to show appreciation or a willingness to make changes. But you can’t do this unless you are already practicing social listening and can pick up on the trend when it begins.

Social listening allows you to stay abreast of every conversation involving your brand across different social networks. Forward-thinking businesses are taking advantage of this marketing strategy to engage audiences and manage brand reputation in real time.

Keep reading to get inspired by a few notable real-life social listening examples.

The winners of social listening for brand reputation management 

From these social listening case studies, you can learn new ways to leverage online chatter and feedback to transform your business and the lives of your customers. 

1. Starbucks – Navigating reputational crises through social listening

When two black men got arrested while waiting for their friend in a Philadelphia branch of Starbucks, social media erupted with backlash and condemnation for the brand.

The video of the incident sparked conversations about racial profiling and generated a ton of negative mentions of Starbucks. Rather than pretending it wasn’t seeing the comments or just waiting for things to blow over, Starbucks took quick action to address the issue. 

The CEO of Starbucks had a meeting with the men to offer a personal apology. The company also put out a public apology via its social media platforms and announced that it would be reviewing its policies and conducting racial sensitivity training for employees.

This swift response allowed Starbucks to get out in front of the problem and minimize reputational damage.

2. SoFi- Turning negative sentiment into positive advocacy

SoFi is a fintech company that provides a range of personal finance services, including student loan refinancing and options trading. It was able to identify opportunities to engage customers and sell their solutions by monitoring conversations around business-related keywords.

Fintech companies like SoFi rely on data-driven insights to understand customer needs and guide business strategies. Fintech recruiters play a key role in helping these companies build teams with the specialized skills to leverage data analytics and technology innovations that propel growth.

This led SoFi to discover that a lot of its target audience didn’t understand how to go about structuring their finances and managing their student loans. Even though this sentiment wasn’t targeted at the company directly, SoFi saw the chance to create a new narrative and demystify these seemingly complex topics.

SoFi began producing and sharing easily digestible educational content that broke down everything consumers wanted to know about refinancing student loans. This proactive measure not only helped SoFi solve user pain points, it also established the brand as a reliable resource and thought leader in the personal finance niche.

3. Virgin Trains – Providing exceptional customer support

Virgin Trains provides a good example of how social listening can be a vehicle for immediate change; a way to deliver outstanding customer service that will not be forgotten in a hurry. How did the company do this?

Well, it all started when a passenger on a train heading to Euston from Glasgow decided to use the restroom onboard. Unfortunately for him, there was no toilet paper in the stall and he didn’t realize this until after he had concluded his business. 

With no other (hygienic) options in sight, the passenger decided to tweet at Virgin Trains and tell them about his predicament. The company responded right away and made it their business to fix the issue for the passenger. 

To this passenger and anyone paying attention, the interaction was unassailable proof that Virgin Trains is the kind of brand that goes above and beyond to satisfy its customers. 

4. Tylenol – Building customer loyalty

When it comes to pain management, Tylenol has been one of the go-to options for consumers for many years. However, the ailments that prompt users to take Tylenol have been evolving as the years go by.

Instead of operating on assumptions alone, the brand used social listening techniques to find out what was giving rise to ailments that people were using Tylenol to treat. 

The data that Tylenol gathered revealed that more and more people who engaged in hobbies that required intensive focus for extended periods were reporting experiencing migraines. Knitters were often at the forefront of these complaints. 

Tylenol leveraged this information to develop targeted content for these audience groups, which resulted in an uptick in traffic to their website.

5. Ben & Jerry’s – Gauging market demand

At one time, the beloved ice cream brand spent most of its social media ad budget promoting its products during the summer. After all, summertime is the hottest and sweatiest time of the year and most people would crave ice cream more than ever. 

When the weather is cold and heavy with rain, it’s a reasonable assumption that people would favor hot treats over cold ones. So why not reduce the ad budget or just leave it as it is during these periods? 

Ben & Jerry’s noticed that this wasn’t the case after analyzing its ad performance in New York over a snowy weekend. Instead of falling as expected, the ad’s click-through rates soared and so did sales figures.

After deploying social listening tools to analyze brand mentions across various platforms, Ben & Jerry’s determined that the demand for ice cream also rose during poor weather. 

This is because rain meant people had to stay indoors, often watching Netflix or TV to pass the time and they liked having ice cream on hand. This discovery led Ben & Jerry’s to begin watching weather forecasts and tweaking their ads for both sunny and rainy days to maximize sales opportunities. 

The company even created a new ice cream flavor for the occasion called Netflix & Chill’d.

6. Fitbit – Innovating products through social conversations

Since Fitbit is a newcomer in the health and fitness technology space, they have wholeheartedly embraced social media as an invaluable resource for optimizing user experience and developing new products based on customer desires.

The company constantly monitors everything customers say about it online to gather ideas, diagnose potential issues, and come up with the best solutions for them. Fitbit’s “Reminders to Move” feature owes its origins to customer feedback and requests. 

Fitbit users had trouble staying on track with their health routines and often wished for a feature that could remind them to stand up and move their bodies from time to time. 

Fitbit listened and created a feature that does exactly that, proving that you can use social listening to get to know your audience and delight, engage, and satisfy them better.

7. Netflix – Outsmarting competitors and seizing opportunities 

Have you ever fallen asleep while watching Netflix? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

Using social listening tools, Netflix identified that this was a common customer complaint. People would sleep off and wake up later to see that they missed several episodes of a show because it continued to play after they dozed off.

As frustrating as this is, it’s not Netflix’s fault that we can’t keep our eyes open so no one would have faulted them for not devoting a moment of thought to this problem. However, the streaming giant came up with a brilliant strategy to solve this problem and demonstrate how much it cares about users.

The company made an ad teaching users how to make smart Netflix Socks that would signal to their TV to pause the show once it suspects that the user has drifted into dreamland. 

This invention quickly went viral, getting plenty of press mentions, earning commendations from users, and even winning Netflix a Shorty Award.

8. Arby’s – Making informed decisions 

Arby’s reputation for selling mouthwatering sandwiches has been firmly established for over five decades. After regularly monitoring brand mentions and customer sentiment, Arby’s became aware that one-third of the social media comments linked to the business were about their sauce.

Customers liked it so much that they were afraid of running out of it. How did Arby’s respond to this tasty bit of information? It began bottling and selling the sauce, opening another stream of business revenue.

The brand also built an ad campaign called “The Saucepocalypse” to promote the bottled sauce. As if that wasn’t enough, Arby’s invited people to share their worst stories involving sauce-less meals. 

It then used some of these stories to create campaign posters which were distributed online and on billboards in the towns where each featured story came from. The campaign was an instant hit and it influenced people to buy bottles of Arby’s sauce so sales numbers skyrocketed.

The future of social listening

The social listening landscape is constantly evolving. Each passing year presents a unique set of opportunities and challenges impacting the ways marketing teams implement this practice.

Let’s explore some of the innovative ways you can use social data analysis to improve your competitive intelligence, brand health tracking, campaign monitoring, and business promotion efforts. 

We’ll also highlight some roadblocks that might hinder your ability to take full advantage of social listening and reap the rewards it promises for your brand.

Emerging trends

Here are the trends to know today to best equip your brand for social listening. 

1.  Application of social listening to boost SEO and influencer marketing 

Using a listening tool to crawl and analyze online mentions of your brand across the web can deliver beneficial SEO opportunities for your brand. 

Source: Influencer Marketing Hub

For instance, you might discover interesting methods and new keywords people are using to search for your brand/products that you can target. You may also find lucrative mentions that can be turned into links to drive website traffic or some kind of consumer action. 

Through social monitoring, you can identify guest blogging partnerships or discover and reach out to influencers who are creating well-liked content relevant to your niche whom you can collaborate with.

2. Locating high-quality user-generated content

User-generated content plays a huge role in shaping consumer purchasing decisions. To them, this kind of content holds more sway and authenticity than official content posts and copy from brands.

However, it can be tough to find quality UGC to show customers, especially when users don’t directly mention your brand in their posts. You can get around this problem using a social listening solution with image recognition monitoring features.

This will enable you to easily find posts that include images or videos of your products. Then you can reach out to the content owner and ask for consent to share and promote the content on your brand pages.

3. Leveraging AI-powered social monitoring 

Social listening tools are incorporating AI into their technologies to collect, analyze, segment, and extract relevant insights from mountains of data faster than ever before.

This increased speed means you can detect shifts in brand sentiment and take swift action to mitigate crises before they have a chance to damage your reputation. 

AI can also study historical data to precisely predict future user behavior and trends, so you can devise strategic plans to solve challenges and gain an edge over your competitors.

New Challenges 

1. Quality and variety of data sources

According to the 2023 State of Social Listening report, 42% of marketers and social intelligence professionals cite data accuracy and quality as the most persistent social monitoring challenge that they face.

Due to API restrictions on platforms like LinkedIn and TikTok, you may not be able to gather data from all relevant sources. This can prevent you from gaining a thorough understanding of customer sentiments and conversations around your brand and products. 

Also, the lack of language capabilities for non-English speakers means that you may not be able to interpret data from certain customer segments if you’re selling a global product. As a result, your customer service, market share, and brand reputation management might lag in those regions.

2. Compliance and security

Compliance and data privacy are a top concern for marketers when collecting information about customers to inform their strategy. You have to take great care when handling customer data to ensure that their privacy isn’t breached and or their info isn’t used unethically.

Source: KPMG

How do you accomplish this? By properly securing your social media accounts with multiple authentication methods and access controls. Publishing a privacy policy also helps with detailing exactly how you intend to use customer data.

Don’t forget to research applicable privacy policies for your industry and the different locations you’re operating in to make sure your activities are compliant with the rules.

3. Budget limitations

The truth is that one social listening tool may not fully address your needs. Carrying out comprehensive and effective social media monitoring and data analysis will require substantial financial investments and it can be tough getting leadership to see the value in this exercise. 

Also, our current economic climate means that budgets are getting slashed left and right, so you may have less money to run your social media marketing initiatives while still being expected to generate increased ROI.

How Keyhole can power up your social listening

Imagine having a tool at your fingertips that not only listens to the online buzz around your brand but also empowers you to outshine your competitors. That’s where Keyhole comes in.

Trusted by industry giants like H&M, Mashable, Google, and Alibaba, Keyhole can be your backstage pass to the pulse of social conversations across various channels. From Twitter and Instagram to blogs, forums, and news sites, Keyhole offers a panoramic view of what’s happening, allowing you to track relevant topics and discussions using keywords and hashtags through its sophisticated boolean search.

You can also easily monitor the activities of your competitors, influencers, and industry leaders, gaining invaluable insights into their strategies. Keyhole also has a nifty unlimited publishing and scheduling feature that can streamline your social activities, enabling you to manage multiple channels seamlessly from one centralized platform. 

With Keyhole’s treasure trove of historical data and AI-powered insights, you’re not just looking at the past, you’re predicting the future. 

In a world where every tweet, post, or comment matters, Keyhole isn’t just a tool – it’s your secret weapon for conquering the social sphere.  

Final words

There’s a flood of conversations involving your brand taking place on social media and beyond. You can’t hope to keep track of all of them on your own. 

As the companies from the social listening examples have shown, you need tools to help you tap into this information stream to uncover hidden insights to rev up business success and strengthen customer relationships. 

Keyhole’s full-service social listening tool helps you monitor how people feel about your brand, identify patterns in your social data, and make data-backed decisions to outflank your competition and always stay ahead of the curve. 

Explore social listening with Keyhole. Unlock your free trial today!

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is social listening?

Social listening involves finding and tracking online conversations that relate to your brand on various social platforms and forums. This can direct brand mentions, product reviews, and discussions about your industry, products, services, or competitors.

2. What are the advantages of social listening?

Paying attention to audience feedback, comments, and sentiments related to your brand can help you:
-Improve your brand image
-Keep up with competitors
-De-escalate crises
-Identify growth opportunities
-Monitor campaign performance
-Align marketing strategy and product innovations with customer needs

3. What are the best social listening tools?

Some of the best tools for social listening include Keyhole, Google Alerts, and Talkwaker.