Listen! It’s the first commandment of every social media program. Pay attention. Find out who is talking about you, in what capacity, and where.
It makes sense. You can’t use social media as the new telephone unless you know how to get a dial tone first. But almost every company I come across could and should get better at listening.
Too often, companies assert that indeed they are listening to the social media conversations about them. But then when you dig deeper you find that they are listening almost entirely for mentions of their brand name. That’s listening with only one ear open, at best. In their social conversations, customers do not go to great lengths to mention your company in precise and perfectly phrased ways. And that goes double for Twitter, which features horrific crimes against abbreviations and a litany of #notascleverasyouthink hash tags.
At every price point, there are many outstanding tools available to help your company listen to social conversations. But they are just tools – empty vessels that only work their magic based on your commands. The real work must come from you, and it requires taking a broader look at what you should be listening FOR in social media.
Breadth Equals Listening Acumen
Not just your brand name, but also your products, employees, retailers, suppliers, events, and competitors. And often, the best business intelligence from the social Web comes from conversations that are about your category, not a particular company or product in that category.
If I tweeted “I sure wish I could find noise-canceling earbuds that were actually comfortable.” (i was recently in the market for such an item), even if you were listening for all the items listed above (employees, retailers, etc) you would likely never find this tweet, robbing you of product marketing insight – and possibly the chance at a real-time engagement and sale,
To solve this listening breadth dilemma, what I recommend is to take the list of keywords that you have targeted in paid and/or organic search, and incorporate them into your social listening, too. If you care enough to pay Google a per-click fee for that term, you certainly should care enough to listen for it in social media.
Go make this happen and you’ll be amazed at how much more robust (and useful) your social listening program becomes.