Remember grade school, when teachers constantly told you to listen and to be attentive? Those lessons were vital to learning how to better understand friends, family, and coworkers. It helped you continue your education. You know how important it is to listen to your coworkers if you want to be a great employee or employer, but did you know those same lessons apply to your time on social media? It might seem strange, but if you aren’t listening to social media, your marketing on your channels will never be as strong as it could be.
How do you listen?
The terms “active listening” (listening to understand) and “passive listening” (listening to hear) are fairly common, but social media listening is a mixture of the two. Social listening has two very important components; it needs to be precise, and it needs to be in real-time.
Twitter and Facebook move fast. If you are trying to keep up by reading everything, you won’t keep up with anything. Narrowing your focus to just conversations relevant to your brand or message will give you useful information and introduce you to the community you want to engage. The more precise you are with your searches, the better.
Keeping up in real time might seem daunting, but if you have a precise goal, it is much easier. The importance of listening in real time stems from how fast social media moves. News comes in quick, trending topics crop up daily, and even memes and Twitter questions change almost weekly. If you are using memes from 6 months ago to engage your audience, you’re simply going to look behind the times. If you know what’s trending, you can jump into the conversation while it’s hot, and earn yourself a lot more eyes.
How does it change my audience?
Everyone wants to know their audience. It would be great if you could meet each one, have coffee, and learn about them, but even in a retail environment when customers physically come in, you can’t learn them all. Social media helps split the difference by giving you access to everyone, even if the information isn’t as deep as a conversation might be.
The best possible way to learn your audience is to “listen in” on the conversations they are having. Watch the hashtag conversations. See who is Tweeting about you and what the responses are. Listening to who they are outside of simple interactions with your business is a key component of building a better brand.
Who Else Should I Listen To?
Your customers should be your priority, without question. But there are a couple of other great resources you should listen to: other brands, and influencers.
Keeping an eye on the competition is always a great idea. Finding out what other people do in order to be successful, and seeing if you can improve it, is a great way to find inspiration, or warnings of what to avoid.
Influencers are another great focus. Chances are, your audience is paying attention to influencers in your field. Influencers are often the first signals of upcoming trends. Listening to their questions, their interactions with people, and what topics they are currently discussing.
Putting your listening skills to work will be a huge boost for your platforms. However, it isn’t the only strategy to keep in mind. If your audiences start to stale for ads, there are some custom ad strategies you can use to shake things up!