Why Social Listening Is Essential for All Startups


First a quick intro before I get into the heart of this month’s article. My name is Geoffrey Colon and I am author of the just released book Disruptive Marketing. I am also a communications designer and growth hacker at Microsoft where I work on growing customers for products associated with the search engine Bing. I’m glad to be a contributor to Scale Up Magazine with articles that can help you scale growth for your business while also reaching your objectives using new thinking and tools.

While many growth hackers or managers of growth marketing will talk about the quantity of customers they add to their product, the way to battle churn is to implement what is called the Always Be Listening or ABL approach to growth marketing.

How does this technique work and how can you use it for your startup? Well, if we separate the need to add customers to our service and report on the amount of people we have using our solution for qualitative data like customers who spend a majority of time using your solution instead, we usually can get that by pulling them into our solution knowing what they are seeking and offering that to them as an immediate result.

So how does a growth marketer get this quality audience? One way obviously is offering a product that offers solutions other products do not offer. But we know that building a product alone in our age of distraction, lack of attention and abundant solutions isn’t enough. Therefore, we must conduct a pulse or “audit” of what is happening around us. The best way to do this is to implement a social listening strategy that answers questions with you as the customer solution and thus makes your product the definitive attraction. So how do you do this?

One way if you have budget is to utilize a number of social listening tools like Sysomos, Cision, Visible, Sprinklr or Radian 6. But what if you are like most startups and are bootstrapping for a solution? This is where good old search engines and platforms like Twitter and even Instagram can help.

First, think about your customer and what they would be searching for online. What terminology and words would they use? What phrases? From here reverse engineer and input those words onto these platform search bars. What content comes up? Is it possible to create better content than the top results? What would that incorporate? Can you produce a video that you embed on your website with the main question one would ask and the video offering the solution? Google and Bing have noted how much video acts as a main signal in SEO these days and thus it’s a good idea to think beyond simply the written word with your content.

What you are trying to do is lure people to your content who act as your initial adopters or advocates. This almost always starts with a piece of content that explains how you solve a customer problem. This always starts by finding out who is asking and answering the questions that your business helps solve.

Keep a spreadsheet of all the terms, phrases, competitors and others you gain from this monthly exercise. You don’t have to rush into making a piece of content right away, in fact give yourself three to four months to see how the marketplace evolves, how these conversations increase or decrease. During this time your product may pivot too knowing what the marketplace is seeking and if you are providing something that ultimately will be in demand due to lack of supply.

When you ultimately put together the content that explains your solution and becomes the “go to” based on the natural behavior of what people would be searching for, you outgain any competition who may have phrased their solution from a non-customer-centric angle while you phrased finding your solution in the language of customers.

Also when it comes time to make the video, there are tons of video production solutions you can use. Look into iMovie for iOS, Videomaker, Vidblaster, Adobe or Magix. All are cheap solutions and with a few video tutorials on YouTube you can teach yourself. Before you know it, this video can live on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo and a variety of other platforms.

Social listening is essential because it helps understand the pulse of a market or potential market. To simply make a product in the 21st Century with blinders on and then note you didn’t know there would be no demand is no longer an excuse knowing what people are talking about, searching for and requesting from the entrepreneurial world.


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