When we talk about using social media for PR and marketing, we typically tend to focus on the messages you’re sending out to your target audience. Make no mistake, the content you share is incredibly important in your PR and marketing efforts. However, it’s important to remember that social networks provide a channel for two-way communication. That means you have to talk and, just as importantly, you have to listen.
Unfortunately, a lot of people fail at the second part. Oh, we love to talk. We post status updates and share links all day long. But when it comes time to listen, well, we don’t.
The problem is that listening is incredibly important. Not only is it a part of providing good service to your audience, but listening also helps you improve your company, monitor and shape your reputation, and gain a competitive edge.
Know Where to Listen
The first step to being a good social media listener is to know where you need to be listening. Who is your target audience? Where can you engage them online? Don’t assume that all social networks are the same and that you can engage your target audience anywhere you choose. That might not be the case.
You need to figure out where your target audience is active online. Once you’ve identified these locations, you can then start to monitor the conversation.
Know What to Listen For
You can have your eyes and ears open all you want, but if you don’t know what you’re listening for, it’s not going to do you much good. What’s important for you to listen for?
Some of the things you’ll want to monitor include:
- Brand mentions
- Personal mentions of those within your company
- Industry keywords
- Trending topics
Know How to Listen
Now that you know where to listen and what to listen for, the next step is to figure out how to listen. How are you going to track important conversations?
Here, you have a lot of options. For starters, you can use any number of free and paid social media monitoring tools and services. There are a lot of different tools out there, so I recommend you take the time to explore your options to figure out which tool is the best for your needs.
You can also leverage tools like Twitter Alerts (get notified any time someone Tweets about keywords you’ve identified, such as your company name, your product, etc.), and you can search social networks for specific terms to track conversations about them.
Always be Listening
What’s important to remember is that you need to take the time to stop and listen. Whether you use tools to automate the process or you manually listen, you have to make a serious effort to track relevant conversations so your company can benefit.
Do you have a social media listening strategy? Tell us about it by commenting below.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three free ebooks, including the Big Press Release Book and Twitter Tactics, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html