Social Media Strategy: Are You Listening or Just Telling?

By now, companies in the majority of industries and verticals have jumped on the social-media-for-business bandwagon. While most successful social media marketers do a sufficient job of touting products, services, promotions and other relevant topics in a conversational and creative manner, many make the mistake of simply telling and not listening. While it’s great to give brand loyalists what they want – content centered around the product or service they love (telling), social media marketers should take a step back from time to time and listen to what is being said about the brand.

That is, a great deal of marketers often forget the “social” part of social media. A major benefit of social media for businesses is that it is a platform that allows brands, both large and small, to connect with their customers unlike any previous medium. Sure, focus groups, which allow companies to gather potential and current customers’ feelings about a product or service, have been around long before social media. Yet, social media affords markets a much greater reach (albeit online) and is a lot easier to measure in relation to your overall marketing strategy.

How Can I Engage in Listening Instead of Just Telling?

For marketers who want to incorporate more listening into their social media campaigns, start with mentions. Mentions are simply instances of potential and current customers talking about your business on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. Let your customers know you care by thanking them for their kind words/sharing the positive feedback with other customers or addressing their concerns and questions. In the latter example, listening also means responding to negative reviews and posts online. Companies that don’t at least take the conversation online are seriously hurting their image.

Another way to engage in listening instead of just telling is through contests and giveaways. Ask for your followers’ opinion or input on something and reward one lucky winner with a prize (preferably your own goods). Contests are not only a great way to engage with your customers, but also are a great way to measure your outreach, specifically how many people and, perhaps more important, who is listening and responding.

Listening can further be achieved through hashtags and buzzwords relevant to your business. Hashtags create a way for all of your followers to join and contribute to a conversation around a given topic. They are also an additional metric that you can measure in your social media marketing campaign. Also, keep an eye out (through Hootsuite or other listening tools) for potential customers talking about something related to your business. For example, perhaps your store just got a popular brand of shoe back in stock and you come across someone talking about them Twitter. Depending on your approach, get in front of them by following them or even replying to their post. An additional option is to find and share photos and videos of customers using your product or service to showcase their positive with others. In any case, let them know you exist!

By listening and not just telling, social media marketers can let current and potential customers know that they care and value their opinion.

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