Listen and its cousins read and research, are the crucial first steps in a social campaign. It is imperitive to seek out and identify the kinds of conversations that are happening in your industry via a thorough social media audit across multiple social channels. In addition you need to know “who” is saying “what”. Standard practice should include listening to your competitors and their followers, following your own as well as their brands and products, and of course general industry activity. Once you identify what is being said, and who is saying it, listen and get a sense of the market landscape before making your action plan, either tactical or strategic.
It is important to note that not only is social media listening a critical first step, it is also a critical success factor at every stage of an organizations social media strategy.
There are varying levels of social media listening capabilities that build upon one another. Each level includes a new listening capability while continuing to enhance existing listening capabilities. At each step you may listen for different types or categories of information.
Below are a few quick tips to help you to get started with your listening.
1. As with most worthwhile things in life, focus on quality when building out your social audience. Identify and connect with influencers, prospects, customers, and media groups in your industry and build and maintain relationships with them using social tools.
2. Choose your channels based on where your influencers, customers, and prospects gather rather than on what is trendy at the moment (blogs are often the most frequented watering holes).
3. Be prepared to hear what your customers and others really think of your product or service as it may be very diferent than what you think they are saying or expect them to say.
4. When engaging over social channels, don’t be afraid to let your personality show. Let’s face it, social networks are about people and personalities.
Once you have a foundation you may start to take action on your campaign. Here are a few quick steps.
1. Be clear about the goals and objectives of your social media campaign
2. Think about the big picture and plan for the long term. You and your company must be patient with social media channels and communities as they do not materialize overnight.
3. LISTEN to your customers and respond to their questions and comments. This step will help you to earn their trust.
When selecting services or technologies to help you with your listening effort keep in mind that listening is not the end goal. You will need to think about, process, and act upon the information that you hear. Your technologies need to support a listening effort across all social channels as well as internal channels and they will have to provide insight and enable action.
Listening is a great start, but what are you hoping to find out? What do you want to accomplish with the responses? What are your next steps after you’ve gathered the information? We would like to hear your thoughts. Share your goals and objectives for your social media campaigns with the readers of this forum. We’re listening.