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By Nicki Gibbs
Social listening is the process of tracking and analyzing conversations and audience engagement across an organization’s social media channels– from Facebook to Instagram and Twitter and beyond. Organizations that leverage social listening effectively can use those insights to develop more effective marketing and communication programs.
Benefits of social listening
Social listening can also provide your organization with valuable information that will help:
- Assess whether you’re living up to your organization’s purpose, mission and values by comparing what people are saying about the organization in social media with what you’re trying to achieve.
- Quickly spot emerging issues or crises – such as service issues or local health concerns – as new and unanticipated topics begin trending.
- Uncover patient behaviors and preferences that can inform business decisions for a new facility location, service line launch or provider need.
- Understand your patients, providers and staff better, which can help you create content that inspires conversation, engagement and action.
- Create stakeholder journey maps to identify the moments that matter most to your audiences.
Developing a communication strategy
Insights gained from social listening can influence a multichannel communication strategy because they inform the type of content the organization should create and share across its channels. You can use social listening to uncover other insights like:
- The type of content that resonates with audiences across social channels.
- How people click through to a webpage. This information can provide more context on patient needs for services, providers and appointments, by assessing how audiences engage with each link through comments and social shares.
- Understanding whether specific social content and web page information inspire people to enter the buyer’s funnel can inform future content and communication decisions.
A few examples of popular social listening tools are Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Zoho Social and Mention.
The importance of social listening guardrails
Social listening, however, can become a drain on your organization’s resources when implemented poorly. Organizations often fall into the trap of looking at what people are saying versus understanding why and how they’re saying it — and then taking action on what they’ve learned. Avoid getting lost in the volume of the content and focus instead on listening with empathy and an intent to understand. It’s the why, how and so what that provides your organization with the context it needs to make strategic content, communication and business decisions.
Nicki Gibbs, EVP, Strategy, leads strategy and services development at Beehive Strategic Communication, a purpose-driven strategic communication firm. She has 25 years of strategic communication experience.
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