Social media is a big hit these days. While many people use it to post cute pictures of their kids or share that funny YouTube video, as a business owner you can use social media to hear what your customers are saying about you. And you can take that popular YouTube video and use it as a marketing tool, through social listening.

Social listening is the process of companies monitoring various social and digital media platforms to get an idea of what is popular among their customers. This monitoring can create marketing and advertising approaches that will appeal specifically to these consumers.

Social listening shows your customers that you care about what they care about. And people are more likely to pay attention to what you’re talking about or advertising if it is relevant to them.

While that sounds easier said than done, it’s not really that time-consuming or complicated. One of the most recent and most popular examples is Candace Payne and her Chewbacca mask and Kohl’s response. If you haven’t watched it, you should definitely check it out at the links below.

Chewbacca

Kohls

Kohl’s response

Someone at Kohl’s saw Candace’s video; it may have been an employee through the viral nature of the video or by using one of the sophisticated tools they have. Had they not been monitoring social media, they never would have seen the immense response she was getting and, by extent, the free advertising she was giving to their store. They responded to her video with their own, and thus extended their own social media coverage. Their response showed they were listening to their customers and while Candace’s original video received more than 145 million views so far, Kohl’s response has received more than 32 million. That’s pretty good exposure for some Chewbacca masks and a few gift cards. (On a side note, the price of the Chewbacca Mask is now selling for nearly $100 on Amazon and Walmart is currently sold out, but you can pre-order from their next shipment at $29.84)

It’s not difficult to see what’s happening on social media. Most of us do it every day, but you can now take what’s trending on various sites and use it to your advantage. Here are 3 steps to follow and leverage social listening for your brand:

  1. Look at your Facebook/Twitter/Google feed and see what’s popular among the demographic you’re targeting (men vs. women, families’ vs individuals, teens vs. kids vs. baby boomers, etc.) Google Trends is another great way to see what people are searching for.
  2. Think about what makes it popular (is it funny? does it have to do with current events? are there cute animals in it?)
  3. Devise a strategy to make this trend relevant to your business (are you going to use that same language in your next blog post? make an infographic about why the trend is similar to some business concept? use a popular dance to increase awareness for a cause your company cares about?)

Remember, while it’s good to post things about your business, social media is about creating and joining into a conversation. You want to interact with your audience. It is important to take into account what your customers are talking about so you can be relevant and more effective in your communications with them.

So are you ready to social listen?