The Value of Social Listening Before Selling

What’s the value of social listening? As it turns out, it could be more than a billion dollars.

In 2010, a 24-year-old Vogue fashion assistant named Emily Weiss launched a beauty blog as a side project. She bought a high-quality camera, created a logo, built a website, and began interviewing supermodels, fashion executives, and magazine editors.

Her candid interview style and conversational brand voice helped Weiss gain a significant following. Eventually, she quit her 9-to-5 job, assembled a small team, and landed millions in funding to launch her own beauty line: Glossier.

As of March 2019, Glossier is valued at more than $1.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Similarly, in 2007, a developer named Andrew Mason started a daily deal blog where he shared offers for deeply discounted products and events. Mason quickly grew his audience and used his blog to measure market demand for the concept that would eventually become Groupon — a business recently valued at over $2 billion.

So how did Glossier, Groupon, and other well-known blog-turned-megabrands reach success in a sea of startup failures? It’s simple: they built a following, listened to their audiences, and delivered exactly what people wanted.

Here’s how you can do the same, in three steps:

1. Identify what’s missing in the market

Your audience is likely visiting your site because they have a need to fulfill or a challenge to overcome. It’s up to you to prove that your offering can not only meet their expectations, but do it better than your competitors.

The best way to start is by evaluating your market and determining what’s missing. In some cases, this might be a product, whereas in other cases, it might be a method of delivery. Then, use this insight to guide everything from your offering to the way you market your business.

For example, Weiss recognized her industry lacked authentic, honest, down-to-earth beauty advice targeting a younger audience. Over time, through her blog, she also discovered a need for a no-nonsense, accessible, affordable cosmetic brand.

2. Test your idea

A blog can give you the opportunity to test your idea and perform valuable market research without making a hefty upfront investment.

For example, Mason recognized his industry lacked a solution to help people find deals from local businesses — especially small companies hoping to build more recognition within their communities. He used his blog as an inexpensive way to gauge interest in his idea and prove demand.

The insight he discovered helped seed the Groupon brand and encouraged further growth.

3. Cultivate a sense of community

When a brand successfully fosters a sense of loyalty, they earn life-long customers. In fact, a staggering 77 percent of consumers say they’ve held relationships with a brand for a full decade or more, according to data from InMoment. But to earn consumer loyalty, you first have to make your audience fall in love with your brand.

In Glossier’s case, Weiss recognized that many people — especially women — feel self-conscious about skin issues such as acne and melasma. So, she tackled these concerns head-on in her blog and urged interview subjects to discuss their own struggles. This refreshing honesty helped build her following and establish a community via her website and social media.

Then, through social listening, she identified what her audience wanted when they invested in beauty products. As it turns out, Weiss’s audience didn’t want to hide their flaws — they wanted to enhance their natural assets. When she and her team developed their product line, they focused on meeting this exact need.

As these two brands have proven, it’s possible to achieve massive success through blogging — even in crowded and highly competitive markets such as cosmetics and coupons. By leveraging social listening and taking time to understand the unique needs of your audience, you can fill gaps in your market and create your own community. Courses make it easy to start that blog, website or podcast.

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Carrie Dagenhard

Carrie is an old school, gumshoe journalist trapped in a modern content marketer's body. She specializes in writing for the marketing, technology and healthcare industries, and loves helping bloggers and small business owners grow their presence online. Carrie resides in the "Silicon Hills" of Austin, TX with her husband and two adorable cats.

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