You wouldn’t dive into a pool without first sticking a toe underneath the surface. Even if you relish the shock of cold water, you still want to know what to expect. Yet countless businesses dive into social media without testing the waters.
I experienced this with one prospective client who was starting an online business, and wanted some low-cost marketing options. I suggested Facebook and Twitter.
“I tried both of those, but neither one worked,” he said. “I kept posting and posting, but nobody responded. They’re all too enmeshed in their own world to actually listen.”
I asked him if he had done any listening to determine what these people were talking about and what kind of messages they responded to. He hadn’t.
How To Listen to Social Media
Luckily for him, performing a listening exercise on social media couldn’t be easier. Just get on Facebook, Twitter and any other social media platforms you intend to use, then see what people are talking about. What brands are they interacting with? What times of day are they most active? What types of content generate the most responses?
Check out a few of your competitors, too, and see what they’re posting. How many fans do they have? How much activity takes place on their page? If you see lots of “Likes” and friendly interactions, chances are good they’re doing something right. Can you achieve the same success?
Social media monitoring tools can make this process even easier. One free way to track conversations is through Google Alerts. Just type in the keyword or phrase you want to monitor, then choose the number of times you want Google to notify you of activity. Similarly, you can use Google Reader to track blogs or even keyword searches.
What Comes Next
After listening comes implementation and evaluation. Once you’re confident that you can craft effective social media messages, post them to your profile and see what happens. Do people respond, or do you just hear crickets? Learn from these reactions — or lack thereof — and tweak your message accordingly.
Over time, this process will become automatic. It will still take time, but you’ll be so used to crafting your message with the input of your community that you won’t even realize you’re doing anything special. But the results will speak for themselves.
How do you listen to your audience online? What tools do you use? Let us know in the comments section below.