You Should Be Gathering Insights, But You're Not

As Dave Kerpen always says: "Listen first, and never stop listening." Not only should you never stop listening on social media, but often the truth is that you never started to listen--and don't know how. 
Social media strategy emphasizes the need for engagement. In fact, 20% of Fortune 500's 100 largest companies today are interacting with their customers on social mediaReports show that over half of customers today are turning to social media channels as their means of interacting with you.
Social media opens the doors for improving the overall customer experience with your brand. But engagement is not everything. Yes, you've gotten your customers talking, but are you really listening? This goes beyond pulling Facebook insights and looking at engagement metrics. The question comes down to this: Are you using all angles of social media insights to the best of your abilities? Aside from building your brand's online presence, you could be gathering endless amounts of insight--and you're not.
When we talk about social media, we often overlook the opportunity to gather vast amounts of intel. Here are some ways you can be a better listener on social media in order to benefit your company.
Competitive Analysis: What are consumers saying about your competitors? Listening in on the sentiment surrounding industry leaders is an easy way to gauge the differentiating factors. Through social media, you're able to tap into the endless conversations on networks and find out how your competitors are measuring up. If you're observing themes of negative sentiment, this could be a potential area for your brand to find ways to excel.
Industry Insight: Don't just focus on the conversation mentioning your competitors--listen in on what consumers are saying that's not even related to brands. This is where you'll be able to pinpoint the core issues and discover those in need of a hero (who could be you). There's great potential for discovering new needs within the industry--you just have to listen.  See the below retweet from @Walmart. Walmart has built a strong presence on Twitter, developing various accounts in order to leverage all angles of customer service.
Brand Sentiment: Analytics platforms for social can dive deeper into all the conversations going on in the space surrounding your brand. This is a great way to gather information and summarize the conversations and sentiment. Studies show that 88% of people believe people are prone to be less polite on social networks. You are able to take advantage of your consumers' lack of filter! Despite potential difficulty with influxes of negativity, you'll be able to get to the core of what your consumers are saying--and find the ways that you can improve thanks to the new insight.
The ability to search on all social networks is a feature that's continually being advanced. With Google and Facebook setting new standards for social capabilities, platforms are better integrating elements of search. Utilize every and all tools that you can access and understand what you should be listening for. Listening from all angles is the key to improving your brand from the inside out.
In what ways do you think brands can leverage social media listening? Share your thoughts in the comments below!