You can learn a lot by listening.


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Before you ever set up a Facebook page for your brand, before you send your first tweet, before you email a link to your first web video, you can reap huge benefits from social media. Social media can help you provide a more relevant, exceptional customer experience. All through simply “listening.”

There’s no reason not to be listening to what’s being said about you and your brand in the online space. There are a host of simple, free tools you can use to get a fairly accurate view of what kind of conversations are going on online about you. Google Alerts and Google Blog Search are two tools every social marketer should be using. You can set these up to alert you via email whenever new mentions are discovered.

Social Mention is one tool that lets you view conversations relating to your brand.

Social Mention is one tool that lets you view conversations relating to your brand.

Additionally, new tools are continually finding their way into the marketplace that are making the “listening” part of social media more relevant. We’ve had great experiences using a free social media analytics tool called Social Mention. It gives you results from throughout the web and social media and even discerns the percentage of comments that are positive, negative or neutral. The only down side to these tools is that they don’t operate in real time; their search results are often delayed by several hours. For most marketers, this won’t be a big deal. If up-to-the-minute search results is what you’re after, then you can turn to a service such as Radian 6, a supercharged analytics service that may prove to be too pricey for most marketers.

So what can you find out, exactly, by “listening”? Several things, actually:

1) You can get verbatims of what people are saying about you. Whether they are leaving a review on Yelp, commenting on an article or blog post or mentioning you in a Tweet, you’ll see what motivates people to talk about you.

2) You’ll have the ability to identify and respond to customers having problems or issues before they turn into “bad stories.” All marketers strive to provide its customers an “exceptional experience.” What could be more exceptional than finding customers who are having problems or have questions and responding to them directly? In one instance, we found a customer who wrote in to a blog complaining about our client’s unclear coupon policy. Our client was able to join in on the conversation, clarify the issue and direct the customer to a web page that provided the information she needed. In less than a minute, a potential bad story turned into a good one.

3) You can find your “evangelists.” For some reason, many marketers are under the impression that anything said online about them must be “bad.” As you’ll see when running your analytics, nothing could be further from the truth. The people who are most vocal about you are almost always your fans. And by finding where they hang out online, and what they’re saying, you have an opportunity to reach out to them to thank them and occasionally spiff them.

4) You can build a “share of voice” report. Social Mention allows you to not only monitor conversations about you, it also allows you to keep tabs on what’s being said about your competition. You can enter this data into a simple spreadsheet and track “Share of Voice” over time, which will give you a good indication of how your Social Media program is doing.

5) You can spot trends and discover keywords. If certain themes seem to come up over and over again, it gives you meaningful insights into how your product or service fits into your customers’ lives. Additionally, the terminology they use in discussing you gives you great insights into keywords they may be using to search for you or within your category. You can use this information to optimize your web site, blog posts and other online content (via meta tags), as well as deciding which keywords and phrases to consider for purchase.

At its core, Social Media is about a two-way (or multi-way) conversation. As in any conversation, before you “speak,” it just makes sense to “listen.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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