Community Management, Guest Posts, Social Business, Social Media Monitoring, Social Media Staffing and Operations

3 Reasons To Dig Deeper In Social Listening

Connie Bensen 1 3 Reasons To Dig Deeper In Social ListeningGuest post by Connie Bensen, the Director of Community Strategy and Social Media at Alterian, which provides leading marketing products for the enterprise. She also blogs at http://communitystrategist.com.

Brands have realized that social networks offer an opportunity to interact directly with consumers. They create pockets of communities where like-minded people share information and seek advice. But many marketers are too quick to create a Twitter or Facebook account and proclaim “Mission Accomplished.” Beyond just trying to interact a tweet at a time, often a more direct road to social succes is to engage with customers more comprehensively in other locations – and social listening shows you the way.

There are a number of tools that can assist with identifying these opportunities, but the challenge isn’t collecting the data, it’s aggregating the results and knowing what to do about them. For example, the benefit of using a professional tool such as Alterian SM2 is that it shows the distribution of conversations across all channels. Each can be drilled into and examined in detail.

Using a professional listening tool will make your social engagement efficient and effective because it’s much easier to pinpoint results and gain insight on:
• Content ideas
• Locations of communities online & offline
• Influencer identification

Connie Bensen 300x219 3 Reasons To Dig Deeper In Social Listening

Uncover Content Ideas

Before jumping into creating accounts on every social network possible, brands need to stop and consider their big picture marketing messages. Marketers need to create content that provides value to consumers across all points of the buying cycle: Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Repeat Purchase, Advocacy. A social media listening tool can help uncover those questions.

Many brands are quick to jump into creating accounts without considering what they have to give to that community. They just want to know how social media can help THEM, and that’s the exact opposite way they should be looking at the equation.

It’s important to create content that people will embrace and share. Content creation and curation is how helpfulness is often defined now. The focus is not on the company’s message, but on the needs of the customer and their community. There’s a fine line between helping and selling.

Atomizing content is also important. Create content in a variety of formats and place it on shareable sites so that it’s easy to find. Utilize sites such as YouTube, Slideshare and Flickr to create channels for your content.

Locate Communities Online & Offline

It’s impossible to join every social network and maintain an active presence. So why bother? Instead, identify online communities where people have a need for your products and services. Joining those networks will provide the greatest impact for your efforts. Don’t forget to search for your competitors, and your industry at-large. If you know what differentiates your products then you’ll be able to interact in a socially acceptable way, even if the dialog started out being about a competitor. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that people are often asking for multiple vendor options.

Identify Advocates

True brand advocates are your most valuable assets. A social media monitoring tool can quickly identify them. The quickest way to do so is to consider the data around each community. The tool will show the influencers along with the contact information. It’s also possible to do so for the various social channels such as Twitter, blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

Once you know who is already in love with your product, you can activate this group by asking them to help you in specific, shareable ways. Ideally, your advocates then help you propagate your message and answer questions, functioning as volunteer marketers.

Social media is too difficult to focus your efforts only on random interactions on Twitter. In addition, use a professional social media listening tool to find the content ideas, communities, and advocates that can matter to your company even more.

Related
  • http://twitter.com/aaronbeashel Aaron Beashel

    Great article Connie. I particularly like/agree with the idea of identifying then engaging and collaborating with influencers in a way that builds product development, business processes, etc. as well as creating a customer evangelist.Thanks for the ideas

    • http://twitter.com/cbensen Connie Bensen

      Hi Aaron,
      The identification is key. Just wandering around the web without a strategy won’t be very fruitful. A focused approach will meet business objectives much more quickly.

  • http://www.whitevector.com Mikko Rummukainen

    Thanks for the fantastic post!

    I really appreciate your viewpoint, and seeing as how the ‘earned audience’ is now the more important form, consumer brands should definitely be more considerate of what their presence on social networks brings – or potentially could bring – to the consumers themselves.

    • http://twitter.com/cbensen Connie Bensen

      Yes, great insight! The ‘earned audience’ is going to continue to become more important. It is also going to make ‘earned media’ more important and valuable than ‘paid media’!

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    Great comment Connie, especially the reminder that social media covers the entire spectrum from Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Repeat Purchase, Advocacy.

    I feel even big brands are struggling with what the scope of these sorts of initiatives should entail. I was talking with a statistician recently who is taking data from both listening platforms and web analytics software like Google Analytics, and doing demographic segmentation, so companies can then more accurately target their customers with traditional advertising. So that’s another key benefit to using listening platforms in companies, beyond the interactions and brand advocacy social media fits with.

    • http://twitter.com/cbensen Connie Bensen

      Thanks Patrick,
      Combining the demographic information with the sentiment can provide a lot of information. Social Media monitoring has created a new role of an analyst that is combination of ethnographer, market researcher and statistician.

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  • http://socialprattle.wordpress.com Joshua Barnes

    Seems like you don’t know where your target demographic will be until you spend a little time in the network. I suppose you only have to listen and not participate. But then again, it is possible that there are brand advocates out there who are just suppressed, or suppressing themselves because they don’t hear from the brand itself in that venue?

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    It’s so true Connie. Too often people are getting into social media to try and see how it can help them. They forget that one of the key words in social media is “social”. That means to interact and not just take something for yourself from it, but also to give back (most of the time it’s even better to give more than you receive).
    People are in social media for all kinds of different reasons, but everyone (at least most people) want some sort of interaction about it. By building these interactions is how people come to form real relationships. This can be between two people or even a company and a person. These relationships are what’s going to help both people and companies get the most out of social media. This is what turns people from looking to potential buyer to buyer to an advocate/evangelist.
    Another thing I’m glad you pointed out was that companies shouldn’t be everywhere in the social space. It makes no sense to spread yourself thin and not interact with anyone in any of these spaces. Instead it makes the best sense to say “our main public hangs out here and here, let’s make sure we’re they’re with them.” That doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t try out new social media spaces, but it’s always important to remember to be where your target audience is or is going to be.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (http://sysomos.com)

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    It’s so true Connie. Too often people are getting into social media to try and see how it can help them. They forget that one of the key words in social media is “social”. That means to interact and not just take something for yourself from it, but also to give back (most of the time it’s even better to give more than you receive).
    People are in social media for all kinds of different reasons, but everyone (at least most people) want some sort of interaction about it. By building these interactions is how people come to form real relationships. This can be between two people or even a company and a person. These relationships are what’s going to help both people and companies get the most out of social media. This is what turns people from looking to potential buyer to buyer to an advocate/evangelist.
    Another thing I’m glad you pointed out was that companies shouldn’t be everywhere in the social space. It makes no sense to spread yourself thin and not interact with anyone in any of these spaces. Instead it makes the best sense to say “our main public hangs out here and here, let’s make sure we’re they’re with them.” That doesn’t mean that companies shouldn’t try out new social media spaces, but it’s always important to remember to be where your target audience is or is going to be.

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (http://sysomos.com)

  • http://twitter.com/MeghanMBiro Meghan M. Biro

    Hello Connie (and Jay):

    This is a refreshing and smart post. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Social is about interaction and being thoughtful regarding content and audience.

    Important Points by Patrick Garmoe below: “Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Repeat Purchase, Advocacy” – There is no way around this notion for brands. It is certainly not a simple equation. Will be tuning in for more developments.

    Best,

    Meghan

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  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    I agree with your post. I think that listening on social media is undervalued. Listening is so important that I think that it should preface and outreach efforts you do.

    Another benefit to add to the list would be potential customer identification.

    Example: I had sent a tweet to Radian 6 about their services. Not long after, I received a message from Sysomos (another listening service). As a customer, I’ve now been exposed to another option to Radian 6.

    While I think our objectives for listening should really be about conversations and engagement, there are opportunities to grow business/leads by listening as well.

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