The importance of brand engagement - social media listening and user-generated content (UGC)

The importance of brand engagement: social media listening and user-generated content (UGC)

Listening and engaging as a brand on social media will help you keep and grow your core community. And that community is then primed to do invaluable work for your brand behind the scenes.

Since the pandemic, social media has become the most preferred marketing channel. Pre-pandemic, it ranked second to business websites, which topped the charts back then.

Websites are now second, followed by email marketing, content marketing and influencer marketing. Search engine optimisation (SEO) marketing and virtual events come next.

As an aside: virtual events are being reinvented, thanks to the Metaverse.

But when it comes to connections that drive brand value, social media is set to stay top of the pack for now. Leveraging its power is an opportunity to foreground your brand on the world’s social stage.

But connecting with your audience on social media takes effort and dedication. Through engagement with their social media audience, brands can foster brand loyalists. This goes hand-in-hand with social listening.

Social media listening

Social media monitoring involves direct engagement with your community. Social media listening is about interpreting the online sentiment towards your brand.

Monitoring tells you ‘what’. Listening tells you ‘why’. Both are crucial for brand development.

Social listening involves extracting data from your social media platforms. This allows you to assess how your audience interacts with your brand. How do they feel about offerings, the industry as a whole, and your competitors?

Research shows that most businesses (61%) now have a social listening system in place. More than 82% view it as a key planning element in their social media marketing strategies.

Brands which don’t practice social listening lose out on valuable data. Data which could help drive brand awareness, trust, and drive conversions.

It’s through social listening that a brand can answer questions such as:

  • How does my audience feel about my brand and its projected values?
  • How do they feel about the ways in which it tries to connect with them?
  • What are my audience’s passions and what do they view as social responsibilities?
  • What are their needs, and how can I connect with them more effectively to meet those needs?

The two biggest impediments to effective social listening are cost and time. This is according to research by Meltwater and Social Media Today.

The actual process also remains challenging for many brands. That shouldn’t stop brands from seeking innovative ways of social listening.

Being more in tune with your social media communities is a step in the right direction. But being aware of what they say – and seeking concrete answers to why they perceive your brand as they do – is not simple.

Investing in social media management tools is critical. Start with HubSpot, Sprout Social, Hootsuite or Awario.

They can be helpful when developing your social listening strategy. But they don’t tell the full story on their own. The data is just too much and don’t reveal everything about brand engagement. They show the bricks, but not the building and surrounding sky and landscape.

Simplified processes for social media information gathering are still lacking. Effective social listening is also not just about data gathering and analysis. It’s an art, a continuous process of developing your receptiveness to your audience’s voice.

Try embedding listening into your brand’s DNA. Make it foundational to your marketing strategies. You’ll love the new insights gathered to optimise your brand’s presence and potential on social.

Building healthy social media communities

People want to connect with brands that are earnest and energetic social listeners. They want to be part of that conversation.

It means that brands can no longer approach consumers as outsiders. They need to see consumers as active participants in a brand’s community building. This is where user-generated content (brand-related social content developed by your audience) helps.

Here are four reasons why user-generated content (UGC) should be part of your brand’s social media plan:

  1. 60% of people wish brands would tell them what type of content to create and share.
  2. 64% of consumers are likely to share content about a brand. But that’s only if that brand is sharing content by other customers.
  3. 60% of marketers feel their audience engages more with UGC than branded content.
  4. 61% of marketers plan to incorporate more UGC in 2022 and beyond.

Building an engaged community means you’re creating a team of marketers. They will do invaluable work for you behind the scenes. Furthermore, research shows that brand trust is today driven by communities.

For instance:

  • 75% of consumers are likely to search for reviews and testimonials before buying
  • 72% of consumers regard reviews and testimonials as more credible than brand promises
  • 76% of consumers have purchased a product because of someone else’s recommendation

Consumers have spoken. They want to be part of your brand’s development.

Your brand’s identity no longer sits in your hands. Its soul is now highly visible to all, and people are talking. It’s time to start listening – and to take a deeper dive into social chatter.

The Metaverse and how social media amplifies your brand’s voice

Social media is where your brand expresses its deeper voice. It allows for greater assertion of your brand’s sentiments, insights and achievements. It’s where you engage with your community on current issues relevant to its unique market.

Social media gives your brand an opportunity. It can build on a voice that resonates beyond your unique audience.

Social media has changed our perception of brands. Think of the likes of Nike, Gucci, L’Oréal, Spotify, and Samsung, to name a few.

You might not buy from these “hyper-brands”, but you’re aware of their status and, most likely, would engage them.

And that’s not even thinking about the effect of the metaverse on social media and marketing. When the metaverse is active, social media will be even more exciting. It will also be even more relevant for brand building.

The social media experience itself will be more interactive and intense. Such an immersive experience means heightened emotions. What we like now, we’ll like more then. What we hate now, we’ll hate more then.

But one thing that won’t change for brands is the importance of social listening. Effective social listening will always be foundational to developing a faithful brand community. Your brand’s audience will always want a voice and to play a part in developing your brand identity.

Active social listening and monitoring shows that your brand is human after all. And humanising your brand makes it more relatable, approachable, and likeable.