Hello!? Are you there? It's me, your social media follower!
Social media as a marketing tool has come to a place where we are no longer measuring ROI by how many followers we have. Or at least we shouldn't be. Instead of counting followers we are now realizing the importance of using social platforms for what they aimed to do in the first place: connect and communicate.
Are you connecting and communicating with your network? Are you utilizing customer complaints? Do you thank followers for positive feedback/endorsements? Do you really listen on social media?
Not only is listening on social media an important part of a comprehensive strategy, it can be the tool that puts you ahead of the competition.
You need to be listening to your network ALL the time. Why?
Listening to your social networks will:
- Enhance your engagement strategy. You need to be continuously engaging on the social media platforms that you are active on, not just scheduling posts. Ultimately, you want to engage with your audience to provoke a response and/or a sentiment (hopefully a positive one). If you are just tweeting random messages at someone or responding without really reading someone's comment or the article they shared, you're not going to come off as very "real." By listening to what others are saying, not just about your company but about the industry and even life in general, you will appear, and hopefully actually be, more genuine. A quality most people find admirable. For example, the other day someone shared an article of mine on Twitter. I generally try to reach out to those who share my content and thank them in some way. I checked out the profile of this particular person and noticed he, like I, was a New England Patriots fan.
- Provide you insight into your company. No one wants to do something wrong, right? Well, social media can be a great place to gain feedback. If people have constructive criticism about your products, services etc., why not take it into consideration? These are the people who utilize what you offer. Why not take their feedback and incorporate it into the changes you make moving forward? Furthermore, because social networks encourage communication, and therefore feedback in the first place, they can be a great way to test out ideas. Throw them out there and sit back and listen!
- Create an outlet to provide solutions to customer's problems. These days many people are just as used to communicating on social media, if not more so, than on the phone or via email. Often times it's these social outlets that people turn to to vent their complaints and/or problems with brands. Unfortunately, we see big consumer companies frequently missing this step. Don't be like those big companies. Listen for complaints and criticisms on your social outlets and utilize this space to engage with that person and try to offer a solution. Most people will be surprised, and maybe even a little bit delighted, that you're listening in the first place.
- Give you a one-up on the competition. People also use their social platforms to vent their frustrations with life. By monitoring your networks and offering up words of encouragement, wisdom or even just a 'hey, sorry you're having a bad day' message, you can really set your brand apart as someone who actually cares. I'm not saying you have to be anyone's personal councilor on Twitter or get super emotional, but a friendly gesture on a bad day can go a long way.
To reiterate, social media at its core is a place to connect and communicate. Don't lose sight of this. We see new management tools and companies selling ways in which we can streamline social media and make it easier all the time, but the reality is, you still have to engage.
You can use that tool, you can hire that company, but make sure you are still listening. You HAVE to listen on social media to make it work.
"It’s the organizations that can react to the complexity of conversation on social media that have the most benefit...Before, it was all a one-way conversation, but now it is two-way, and a lot of people aren’t used to the population out there talking back to you. Anyone who can not just put a message out there, but can hear what people say back and respond to it ... those are the people who will benefit tremendously from the playing field that we’re on." - Senior Advisor for Technology at the State Department, Shahed Amanullah, in a HubSpot interview