SocialWhy Social Media Listening is Important for Brands

Why Social Media Listening is Important for Brands

Listen up! The key to social media success for brands is ... listening. Are you missing out on opportunities to increase revenue and sales? Here are some real cases that illustrate why you should be listening to your audience on social media.


Are you missing out on opportunities to increase sales and ROI, or to increase media value, awareness, and virality? You just might be.

If you’re running social media for your business, you must listen to your consumers and respond quickly in order to be fully effective.

Here are some real cases from large brands that illustrate why you should be listening to your audience on social media. These insights come from Tami Dalley, senior director at Salesforce, who spoke on the Social Media Meet ROI: The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce panel at SES New York earlier this year.

Why Should You Listen? – The Lululemon Story

Dalley mentioned an incident with brand Lululemon Athletica and how the fitness-wear retailer stocks declined after it was forced to withdraw women’s pants that proved to be too transparent. Many people took to social media to express their thoughts on the matter.


The brand also started talking on social media, however it was on unrelated topics that had nothing to do with the incident of the see-through pants. The Lululemon website was also completely void of any information regarding the incident.

This wasn’t a good move on their part, Dalley said. The brand should have responded to their customers, instead of ignoring the issue.

Lessons learned from LuLulemon not listening:

  • During a crisis people start to talk, so it’s up to the brand to respond.
  • The brand is not longer the marketer, but the customer is.
  • Social media listening helps us understand real conversations, real people, and what they want.
  • Social media can increase or decrease a brand’s impact on their campaign success.
  • And if social media is done effectively, can increase revenue and sales.

So Why Don’t Brands Listen?

One reason that brands don’t listen is because there’s an overwhelming amount of social media noise and data out there. It’s hard to separate the signal from the noise; therefore companies must invest in technology so they can actively listen.

Listening insights can have implications for multiple stakeholders, and each department within a company has unique needs and therefore distinct listening objectives.

Benefits Various Departments Can Have Listening to Social Media


Customer service:

  • Create a knowledge base from questions and answers they find on social media.
  • Identify and solve problems.
  • Integrate with CRM to prove cost savings.

Marketing and public relations:

  • Uncover conversations about brand, industry, products and respond in real time.
  • Leverage topic insights to improve their content, SEO, and PPC strategy.


  • Listen in social media for various product problems.
  • Highlight success of a product launch.
  • Gain input and ideas from customers on how to improve the product. It’s not only a great way to gain further insight into their product, but it’s also free to do so.


  • Uncover conversations that indicate intent to purchase (e.g., “Can anyone recommend”, “I need a new …”).
  • Keep an ear out for discontent with competitors.
  • Prove ROI through CRM integration.

Human resources:

  • Find where to fish for recruits.
  • Uncover the experts and influencers.
  • Discover perception of you as employer.
  • Listen for issues that impact employees happiness.

How Companies Use Social Media to Gain Insight into Their Brand

Taylor Guitars was listening and identified peaks in conversation, which led them to Dave Carroll’s protest song on YouTube. The song chronicles an incident of how Dave’s guitar (which was a Taylor Guitar) was damaged due to attendants of United Airlines recklessly throwing luggage into the plane. United Airlines denied Dave’s claim, so he took to social media to express his disappointment.

Taylor Guitars Uses Social Media for Marketing & PR

  • Uncovered conversations about their brand, products, and industry.
  • Respond in real time to opportunities.
  • Leveraged topic insights to improve SEO and PPC.

Taylor Guitars was listening and identified peaks in conversation, to which they found Dave’s Story. Taylor Guitars responded in real time and reaped benefits of social listening.

What Taylor Guitars did:

  • They remained authentic by expressing who the damage to a guitar you love sucks
  • They took the opportunity to educate Dave and the consumer by stating that sometimes you can take it on the plane.
  • They promoted their repair service by mentioning that they would be willing to fix Dave’s guitar as well as other guitar brands too.

Maker’s Mark Uses Social Media to Listen to Their Consumers and Fix Their Product

Maker’s Mark had an explosion of conversation when their COO announced that they were going to reduce the amount of alcohol in their product. Demand was too high and Maker’s Mark couldn’t produce the product fast enough. One of their solutions was to reduce the alcohol content so they could mass-produce the product faster.

Unfortunately after that announcement, various customers took to Twitter to announce their displeasure for this move.


After Maker’s Mark noticed the conversation that was happening online, they quickly responded:



They listened to the response their consumers were giving them on social media and immediately reversed their decision to dilute their product. This is yet another example how social media was able to help brands:

  • Become aware of problems with their product.
  • Get input and ideas from customers.
  • Utilize real time focus groups.

Maker’s Mark also took their social message through to paid search and their sentiment switched from negative to positive.


Social Listening Takeaways

As Dalley’s insights and case studies have illustrated, it’s important for brands to invest in social listening across the entire organization, and use technology to separate the signal from the noise. Find out where conversations are happening, and leverage what you learn, don’t ignore your customers. Listening without action will only annoy your customers.


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