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7 Ways to Use Social Listening to Generate Leads for Your Business

By Rebekah Radice

18 min read

Do you want a new way to generate leads for your business? Looking to better understand your audience? It's time to start listening.

When you use social media to listen to the needs of your market, you gather insight, delve into the problem, and attract potential leads through customized solutions.

Sounds simple and straightforward enough, right? Not so fast.

Social listening is an art and one that many have yet to master. But with the stakes higher than ever before, it's a skill you must acquire.

In a study by Social Habit, 32% of social media users who contact a brand expect a response within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.


If you're not listening and responding in real-time, you're likely losing leads to the competition that is.

But be careful not to confuse social listening with monitoring. Monitoring, while important, is simply tracking brand mentions. Social listening requires deep analysis, giving you a complete picture from conversation to the eventual conversion.

Become an active social listener and you'll generate valuable leads, create content your audience loves, and improve the overall customer experience. All while keeping your finger on the pulse of your industry and the health of your brand.

Today's post is sponsored by Brand24, a tool I use daily to listen across social media. If you're looking to generate leads for your business, grab their special offer.

As you know, I don't recommend tools I don't already use, and this one is on the list of daily tools I can't live without!

1. Better position your message (learn their language)

If you want to reach your target audience and convert them into customers, you need to speak their language.

Only then will you be able to position your message in a relevant way to those eager to connect with your product or service. For that, you need to know your persona.

Start by gathering data on your target market. Search their social profiles for common characteristics and interests. Then dive into tools like Facebook Audience Insights and Brand24 to find common words or phrases that you can track.

You’ll find Facebook Audience Insights inside your Ads Manager, attached to your Facebook Page.


From here, you can learn exactly what your audience likes, the type of content they’re already interacting with, and what competitor pages they’re hanging out on. The information you find will be a mix of professional and personal.


Once inside Audience Insights, hover over each keyword and review the description. What words jump out at you?

Let's use "City Mixers" as an example. Here I can see that my target market is a corporate career builder, established in their career, single, no children, and lives in an urban area.

Do some research on yours and begin to write down the words that jump out at you. Each of those will translate into the hashtags, topics, and words your target audience uses and those that matter most to them in life and business.


Now head over to Brand24 and add those keywords into a new project. Here you can start tracking their conversations. This will give you an even better feeling about how your audience talks, what makes them happy, what they’re looking for, and how they feel about your brand and any others within your market.

Armed with this knowledge, you can create personalized content that uses the same language as your audience. This will be top-of-funnel (awareness), middle-of-the-funnel (nurture), and bottom-of-the-funnel (activation) content that generates leads at every stage of the customer journey.


Knowing what words and phrases your potential customers use will also help you optimize your content for search.

You'll also translate those keywords into hashtags that place your content in front of the exact right audience.

2. Create a social lead gathering campaign

Now that you know who your customers are and what they want, it’s time to set up an ongoing listening campaign. From your list you created above, choose a few keywords relevant to your niche and use a social listening tool to monitor each one.

Many social listening tools, allow you to opt in to receive daily reports on those mentions. What I like about Brand24 is the one-stop shop. In one location, I can see mentions from blogs, social channels, forums, video sites, and more.

There's no need to bounce around the web looking for the conversations my users, buyers, and potential customers are having.

Make a daily commitment to actively monitor the mentions of those using keywords and phrases most important to your business. For example, let’s say you’re a frozen yogurt shop in Los Angeles. You might want to monitor “frozen yogurt la” or “where to get frozen yogurt la.”


Your next step is outreach.

Begin to reach out and engage with people interested in your product. You can even filter by influence if you’re short on time and looking to activate a certain segment.

Now the fun begins! Get involved in the conversation. You can start a dialogue by asking a question, like Denny’s does here. Think they know their audience? I’d say so!

if you could talk to a pancake what would you say?
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) November 8, 2017

If you're on the receiving end of that question, answer in a thoughtful and meaningful way. The lazy, "thumbs up," or "this is great" response won't cut it here.

What you'll find is that as you insert yourself into conversations, your connection will grow stronger, their understanding of your brand will deepen, and eventually you move them from a lead, to a customer, and sale.

3. Improve customer experience

Did you know that 54% of millennials, 50% of Gen Xers, and 52% of baby boomers say they’ve stopped doing business with a brand due to poor customer service?

Customer experience is often the main deciding factor behind whether or not a person buys or ever becomes a lead for your business. That’s why it’s incredibly important that you use social listening to create a one-of-a-kind experience for your customers.

Here’s a few ways to do that through social listening.

Quickly respond to any questions or complaints

Start by getting a system in place to respond and engage with your current and potential customers.

The research I mentioned above published in The Social Habit, by Jay Baer, states that among respondents who attempted to contact a company:

  • 32% expect a response within 30 minutes
  • 50% expect a response within 60 minutes
  • 25% expect a reply within 30 minutes, regardless of when they posted their comment

That means you must constantly listen, hear, and respond. Fortunately, there are many social listening tools that can help you monitor brand mentions.

Two of my all-time favorites are Brand 24 and Sprout Social. You can use them as the perfect combination to keep track of what people are saying to you, about you, and around you.

Then you can respond with a customized solution, not a stock or standard reply. (yawn!)


If they have a complaint, you’ll see that mention in Brand24. You can either click through directly from the Dashboard or take that over to Sprout Social where you can see your full conversation history with that customer.

This is particularly helpful if you have a team. Don't’ step on someone else's’ toes by responding blindly. Instead, review the history before you reach out.

Gather feedback

As I mentioned before, there's a big difference between social monitoring and social listening.

Responding to a customer complaint, and solving one problem at a time, is social monitoring. But if you want to solve many problems all at once, you need to really "listen" and look at the bigger picture.

Listen to your customers' feedback, and use it to create a better experience. Look for any trends - problems that many of your customers are experiencing all at once.

That's just what Elon Musk did when a Tesla customer sent a Tweet complaining about how one of the superchargers was always occupied due to people leaving their cars charging for hours.

@elonmusk the San Mateo supercharger is always full with idiots who leave their tesla for hours even if already charged.
— Loic Le Meur ? (@loic) December 11, 2016

Elon Musk replied within hours. And, seeing that this was not the only complaint of this kind, Tesla Motors introduced a solution within 6 days!

Respond to customers

Often times, customers will not reach out to you directly. Instead, they'll simply mention that they're using your product or service.

That's why a huge part of creating a positive customer experience is taking initiative and seeking your customers out.

By using a social monitoring tool, you can catch any type of mention and make first contact. You can ask for their feedback, offer any help or tips, or respond in any other appropriate way.

Show your customers that you're here, you're listening, and that you care.

Zelmer, a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, is a perfect example. The company was monitoring social media for mentions and caught the following instagram post:


The post showed a cake in the shape of a Zelmer vacuum cleaner - a Birthday cake for a boy who loves domestic appliances. Zelmer responded by inviting the boy and his mom on a tour to one of the company’s factories, making the boy's dream come true.


This action earned the company at least two very loyal customers and some extremely positive publicity.

Another great example is this mother's social post.


She complained that most restaurants have no changing tables, which makes it more difficult for mothers to dine with their babies. Notice that she did not call out any names or mention any restaurants.

But three brands that were actively "listening," heard her plea, and listened to her feedback. By simply buying a changing table, they improved her and other mothers' customer experiences and gained some positive response on social in the process.

Be a problem solver

Social media can be huge lead-generator, but only if you listen very closely.

According to Brand 24, each month, there are 14,000 online searches that start with “can anyone recommend?” and 30,000 searches for “where can I buy?”

Surprisingly, only 40% of these questions ever receive a response. That's thousands of missed opportunities every day! Don't let that happen to you.

Stop limiting yourself to only tracking mentions of your brand. Keep an eye on any relevant keywords or phrases your potential customers might be using. Then quickly jump in and engage your potential customers in conversation.

Answer their questions, offer advice, and provide guidance. Where appropriate, show people how you company can help solve their problem. You will build trust, and possibly even convert them into a lead or customer.

That's just what Brand24 did. They caught a tweet addressed to their competitors needing assistance. Seeing that the competitor was slow to respond, a Brand 24 representative jumped into conversation.

Was looking for a social listening tool & @brand24 found me. They immediately set me up with a trial and turns out, I love the platform!
— Hailey Crider (@hailey_crider) July 22, 2016

As you can see, in their case, a good social listening campaign and a fast response time were enough to win a new customer over from a competitor. You can do the same.

4. Reach new leads by engaging with influencers

According to a recent case study by TapInfluence and Nielsen Catalina Solutions, influencer marketing delivers 11 times the ROI of digital marketing.

And that's not surprising. When you collaborate with an influencer with similar goals as yours, you get a chance to tap into their immense reach and influence.

The good news is that social listening is the key to connecting and engaging with such influencers. Monitor the keywords and hashtags most used by influencers in your industry or niche.

Now add them to your monitoring tool, track the data (you can even download robust reports through Brand24), and continuously analyze the tweets and posts of those actively influencing their community.

Your next step is to create an outreach campaign just as you did for your customers above. Get involved in conversations on social media and when appropriate, reach out via email.

A collaboration can help you gain access to a whole new market or increase awareness around a specific product or service perfectly suited for the influencers community.

5. Follow industry hashtags to boost exposure

Start by keeping a close eye on industry hashtags. If you don't know what the most popular hashtags in your niche are, you can use a tool like Hashtagify, to find them. Here you’ll see the top 10 most used hashtags used around your seed keyword.

Here’s an example of what comes up when I search, “branding.”


I not only see the popularity of each hashtag, but the additional hashtags used and the influencers using them.


Once you know what hashtags you want to monitor, you can use a social listening tool to set up alerts. It's easy to do in Brand 24, or even in the free TweetDeck.

Tell the tool what hashtags to track and it will compile a list of posts that include it. Now, it's up to you to read through those messages and look for emerging industry trends.

What are people talking about? What do they need? Go solve that!

6. Discover new market opportunities

So, you're tracking all your brand mentions as well as niche-related keywords. Fantastic - that should begin to generate leads for your business.

But, let's say your niche is very narrow and you've already reached everyone you can. Or perhaps you're simply ready to penetrate new markets. In that case, it's time to discover new opportunities!

Why limit yourself to one market, when there are so many others that need what you have to offer? It might be as simple as switching to a different location, or as difficult as adjusting the entire focus of your brand.

Either way, if you want to engage new markets, you need to listen.

Listen to what people are talking about. What are some common problems and needs? Are there any you can meet?

Choose a few specific keywords. If you’re a real estate professional in the Los Angeles area, that might be, "I want to buy a house in Los Angeles." Now take a look at how many times people are asking that question.

Even if it’s only 5 times per day, consider the multiplication opportunity. 5 queries = 5 responses from you per day. At 5 days per week that’s 25 new leads for your business. Worth 15 minutes per day, wouldn’t you say?

Now consider what content those people share and search for trends. Once you find them, come up with ways to tap into them.

That's just what Marshalls did. They analyzed the Pinterest boards of their customers and noticed that many of them were pinning images of decor and fashion items.

The retail brand noted this trend and decided that there was enough interest to build a successful campaign around it.


7. Make education a part of your daily strategy

Leaders are learners. If you want to continue to drive leads to your business, you need to remain relevant. To do that, you must always be learning.

Read industry-related blogs, listen to podcasts, attend webinars, and soak in valuable information any way you can.

Look to brands that inspire you, and try to see what they're doing well. What new strategies are they implementing? There’s nothing wrong with modeling success that doesn’t include swiping ideas or stealing content.

Gather information and find new trends and ideas you can implement in your business. But don't wait until everybody in your industry is doing it. Be the trendsetter.

Final thoughts

Millions of people are active on social media every day, and many of them have the potential to become a lead for your business. Sometimes all they need is someone to listen to their frustration, offer an empathetic ear, and a helpful solution.

Be that brand. Keep a close ear to everything going on in social, monitor your brand keywords, and get ready to jump into conversations.

At the same time, don't forget to also listen from afar and look at the big picture and trends. Do that and you'll never have a problem getting new leads.

Rebekah Radice

About Rebekah Radice

Rebekah Radice, co-founder of BRIL.LA, has traded narcissism for purpose. When not driving growth, you'll find her tricking family into thinking she's Emeril Lagasse - likely covered in marinara. The spotlight was fun, but impact is better. These days she's using 20+ years of brand brilliance for good.