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Are You Really Listening on Social Media?

Simply “being” on social media isn’t always enough. Sure, you can attract followers and engage with them, but if you’re not monitoring what people are saying about your brand — and then taking action based on what they’re saying — social media won’t do you a whole lot of good.

First: What “Listening” Really Means

When I say “listening,” what I mean is monitoring mentions of your brand across all social networks, whether you have a presence on them or not. You’re looking for good, bad and indifferent mentions of your brand, as well as your product category. It’s also a good idea to see what people are saying about your biggest competitors.

How to Pay Attention

Twitter-Lane

Most social media dashboards give you the ability to stream all social updates that mention your company name or keyword. This gives you, at a glance, the ability to see what the conversations are. From there, you or your social media team can respond appropriately. This does require daily (or even more frequent) checking in on these streams. Sometimes seconds count when it comes to promptly responding to a tweet.

Want more social listening insights? Register for the free “Practice Listening: From Competitors to Customers” webinar now!

How to React

When I say you need to “respond appropriately,” here’s what I mean: let’s say you own a steak restaurant, and someone tweets a picture of a hair in their mashed potatoes and tags your company. What to do? Ignore it and risk it going viral? The longer your silence, the more people decide that you’re guilty.

Instead, respond instantly and apologize for the error. If possible, make a joke out of the situation to lighten the humor. With our hairy example, you could respond: “Oops! Looks like our chef was headbanging without his hair net! Next steak is on us.”

Never, ever get defensive if there’s a negative comment on social media (or a review site) about your brand. Always apologize, and do whatever you can to remedy the bad situation. Not only will you be more likely to turn an irate customer into a happy one, but you’ll show your efforts where others can see them and make their opinions about your efforts to reconcile the problem.

When People Say Nice Things About You

Listen-Smiley

Not all mentions of your brand will be nasty. Many will be (I hope) glowing. These, too, deserve attention. After all, brand evangelists can take you farther in marketing than you could ever hope to get on your own. So thank them. Retweet their content. Comment on their posts. Get them more involved and invested in your brand.

Where Your Competitors Come In

Social media monitoring is also fantastic as a market research tool. It helps you understand your industry, and what your competitors are doing right (and wrong). If people complain about your competition, there’s an opportunity for that person to become a lead for your brand. Pay attention and make yourself useful, not annoying. Your competitor’s weakness could send you new customers.

With just a little effort and your ear to the social media grapevine, you can gain knowledge that helps you better position your brand.

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Images: Steven Shorrock, Duncan HullJ E Theriot (Creative Commons)

Tags : social media

About Susan Guillory

Susan Guillory is the president of Egg Marketing & Communications, a marketing firm specializing in content writing and social media management. She frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Cision, Forbes, AllBusiness, Small Business Trends, The Marketing Eggspert Blog and Tweak Your Biz. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.

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