In 2022, many marketing teams are using various social platforms and a strategy called, “social listening”. Social media is essentially tracking conversations and mentions around certain topics or key phrases.
While a coffee company might be tracking positive and negative conversations around their morning coffee stop, I believe this strategy has more applications than those currently being leveraged.
Instead of tracking positive and negative conversations around your products, or your competitors’ products, what if we monitored user experiences, especially user experiences for people with disabilities?
If you open up TikTok and search the hashtag “BlindTok”, you will find thousands of videos from users with visual impairments and blindness sharing their ideas, experiences, and opinions around various topics that impact their daily lives.
I am one of those people, and it is an amazing community that has shed light on topics that I was unaware of, even though I live with a visual disability myself. However, the idea doesn’t just pertain to TikTok and its short-form videos. Let’s look at some other platforms applying this strategy.
LinkedIn is a place for professionals to highlight their work, share ideas, and connect with others, but it is also a place of conversation around the topics of accessibility and universal design.
On LinkedIn, there are tons of great people, doing amazing work for people with disabilities and they are sharing their methods and ideas as to how to become more accessible and inclusive. Even looking at my recent posts on LinkedIn, there are people adding amazing insight to the conversations that other accessibility specialists may have never even considered.
As mentioned above, you can search and follow hashtags within TikTok, including the BlindTok hashtag, but it doesn’t stop with just visual impairments. There are entire communities on TikTok where real users are sharing their lived experiences with various disabilities including auditory, visual, cognitive, and mobility.
As a low-vision user and accessibility specialist, I follow several of these to gain a better understanding of how to design inclusively for those with disabilities other than my own, and to say I have learned a lot is an understatement.
I learned things from the videos shared that are not in accessibility training available online. Whether it be new assistive technologies, different methods of navigating inaccessible experiences, or something like hearing what frustrated users about the gap between assistive technology and the websites they are visiting.
Facebook is all about sharing what you’re up to with your close friends and family right? Essentially, Facebook is a word-of-mouth social media platform with pages, groups, and feeds full of users sharing their experiences that are influencing others’ actions.
If I were to post on Facebook about an awful, inaccessible experience I had, my family and friends would likely develop a negative view of that product and company, and decide to buy something or somewhere else. The inaccessible design doesn’t just result in the loss of one customer, it could be an entire group of customers if they share it on Facebook.
Instagram, like Facebook, is where users share their experiences, but instead of through text, it is a photo or video. Instagram also has a ton of Hashtags that can open up entire veins of information.
Next time you are on Instagram, search the hashtag “disability” and scroll through the 2.2 million posts that have used it. You are likely to learn a ton of great information from users and companies about positive and negative experiences with a disability.
Listen and you might learn something new
In short, social media is a great place to learn about your customers, audiences, competitors, and partners. However, don’t underestimate the power of social media to learn about your users’ experiences, ideas, and opinions as they can be crucial to improving products and services to unlock new opportunities for growth and success.
Leveraging strategies like social listening to include the disability communities will give you a clear picture of what matters in the current times to real users, not what some 5-year-old guideline recommends. To become truly accessible and inclusive, companies must engage with users to understand their preferences, expectations, and ideal experiences to make improvements that are functional and useful.