Sprout’s Smart Inbox is a great at ensuring you never miss a mention, important hashtag or branded keyword. As these inbound messages are coming in, is your brand monitoring or actually listening to the needs and requests of your customers?

Monitoring focusing on observing and tracking patterns while listening entails insights from pervious conversations. While both listening and monitoring are essential, brands that employ listening foster stronger longterm relationships, which can lead to a number of positive impacts on an organization, including decreased churn and increased CLTV. This week at #SproutChat, our community learned how to be a better listener.

Listening on Social Media Is Different Than Monitoring

Understanding the difference between listening and monitoring on social media is the first step to success. Most brands employ monitoring for mentions and do their best to respond within a specified timeframe.

Listening requires using a social media management tool to provide better customer service and connect existing customer data sets. Platforms like Sprout show the conversation history between your brand. With so many consumers relying on the major social networks to talk to brands, this feature can do wonders in upping your social customer care game.

Surprise & Delight Goes a Long Way

Beyond providing stellar customer care, finding ways to surprise and delight customers will really help your organization stand out. Your actions don’t have to correlate to a substantial monetary value, but they should reflect something your community really cares about and can benefit from. Some things we’ve surprised and delighted our Sprout community with include: Hashtag Holiday calendars, Sprout mugs and customized coffee, Swell water bottles and customized digital images with a community member’s social media goals.

Twitter Operators Are Your Friend

Jumping in on conversations is a great tactic to get your brand in front of potential community members or customer prospects. That said, do the research to gather the full context of the conversation. Nobody likes a brand inserting themselves in a discussion that’s not relevant. Do this by taking advantage of advanced search options Twitter. The network allows for extensive filters so you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Trend Tracking Is a Must

Whether it’s tracking trends on Instagram or Twitter, use popular hashtags to be part of the conversation. If a trending topic isn’t related to your business offerings, wait until a relevant trend arises. Trying to contribute to something irrelevant can hurt your brand’s reputation.

Join us at #SproutChat next week where we’ll discuss Social Media ROI. Managing Partner at 5ifty & 5ive, Lucas Vandenberg, will be joining the discussion to share his insight from more than a decade of experience in the industry. Until then, chat all thing social media marketing in our Facebook community.