An effective social media strategy recognizes that listening to what is being said about your business is vital to staying relevant. But listening is just the first step. What makes the difference is what you do with that information. Listen-engage-respond-act, is the mantra businesses must chant.
Social media listening enables businesses to identify those they can influence. It helps them understand their customers’ perceptions, likes and dislikes. The insights gained can then be used to fine-tune marketing strategies, to meet customer expectations.
But with so much noise and clutter in the social media space, listening can be a daunting exercise. Businesses must learn how to effectively navigate through the noise and leverage the information they gather. Here are 5 key pointers that we think will help businesses listen better.
1. Clearly Define Your Social Media Listening Goal
Why are you listening? What is it you want to hear? You need to have precise answers to such questions before you start listening. Have a clear goal that describes:
- What you will achieve by listening?
- What you want to measure?
- What type of information you want to listen to?
- What are the rules of engagement (what to and what not to talk about)?
- What is the kind of impact you expect?
Well-outlined goals will help you allocate your resources effectively, select the right listening tools and align your path with that of the organization.
2. Don’t Hang Out Only on Trending Sites
Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn are undoubtedly the most popular social media sites out there and by all means show your presence on them. But don’t ignore others that might well have greater impact in niche areas. Your target customers may use non-traditional channels and platforms to talk about their experiences with your brand. Be smart. Find out where your potential and existing customers hang out. Hang out there. Listen and engage.
3. Data: Distinguish Between the Meaningful and the Fluff
Social media traffic is so voluminous, that it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of what you are really listening for. That is why it is important to stay focused and monitor incoming and outgoing data to ensure that it is all relevant, intelligent and actionable. Have a systematic program that separates by product, brand or type of message. Ignore the fluff, use the meaningful to impact your business.
4. Listen to the Stories Beyond the Numbers
It’s important to not rely heavily on technology that only “counts”. Invest in social media tools that go beyond the numbers. Listen to what your stakeholders are saying about your brand or your competitor in their conversations and interactions on social media. Take this information and look at it alongside the numbers you generate. This will give you the big picture and the insights you gain will be much more useful.
5. It’s Not Just One Sided. You Have to Listen and Respond (Quickly)
Customers today are more demanding and influential than they have ever been. There is an expectation of response and action 24/7. Brand loyalty today is directly correlated to response times and engagement efforts.So have a rapid response process in place.