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Thursday, December 10, 2009

How Do I Listen With Social Media?

How Do I?

How Do I Listen With Social Media?

Listening comes up repeatedly in social media marketing. You see, the tools of social media don't really work if you don't listen. Or, at least, they may work in a traditional and not very social way. In which case, social media marketing isn't really taking palce. So listening is critical.

Think about it.

Markets Are Conversations.

If markets are conversations - rather than one-way monologues - then you must consider what the other party has to say. You may put forth your perspective, but you must then listen to the response and be ready and willing to come up with a solution or improvement and definitely an acknowledgment. That give and take is what leads to engaging with readers, visitors and customers and eventually forming a community. It is what leads to developing trust and credibility.

I consider listening hugely under appreciated, particularly in traditional marketing. We might listen at arm's length via a focus group, but not up-close-and-socially.

Luckily, it isn't difficult to start to listen to the conversations. And, it isn't that scary either!

Social Media Listening Tools

Start with the most basic and flexible tool available: Google alerts - which, surprisingly, many traditional marketers don't know about. Set up alerts for your name, your company, your brand names, your competitor names, subjects and topics that interest you... It costs nothing.

Definitely explore terms and subjects of interest at a search window first so you can validate that you are getting the kinds of results that interest you. And, then, refine. I like to start with Google Search; then I create my alerts, monitor my results over a few days, and refine them.

Interestingly, Google has just added real-time search integrated into search results pages. It's particularly relevant [and noticeable] for very hot trending topics like Tiger Woods in December 2009... What that means is that you'll see relevant Twitter results appear in your search results. One-stop listening.

Where you aware that you can search in Facebook? Try it. You'll definitely find it interesting and you may be surprised by what you find.

Don't forget YouTube, the world's No. 2 search engine.

Finally, Twitter. You don't have to have a Twitter account to search Twitter. But, if you do have an account, you may find this post on Listening To Customers With Twitter helpful. In addition to always having a search window available, I keep a permanent browser tab open for Twitter Search.

Social Media Listening Guidelines

Simple Marketing Starts With Listening. It leads to insights. You want to tread carefully, though, as you enter into the world of those you want to listen to. Social media interaction is often described as the equivalent of entering into a living room or a kitchen where conversations are in progress. You can't just barge in and take over.

Definitely read through these 16 Social Media Tips Relating To Listening.

As Sharon Mostyn commented on How Do I Start With Social Media?:

"... Listen/read first. Don't try to join in on a social media conversation until you've spent some time learning how others are using that conversation (learn the "slang") otherwise you could jeopardize your future standing with the community that you are trying to reach."

That means that you should definitely listen with social media. But, do so respectfully, intensely, authentically, open-mindedly, creatively and simply. Beware of too much baggage [e.g., you might find this post about Listening To Women Customers helpful]; it might prevent you from hearing the obvious.

Other Social Media Listening Tools

Don't forget about using online survey tools, generating discussion on your blog, participating in forums, and simply asking questions and listening to the responses.

Are you ready to listen with social media? What do you find works best for you? And what insights have you uncovered?

Image credit: Wordle "How Do I" by C.B. Whittemore

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