The Power of Listening in Social Media

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I’m amazed at how few marketers spend time listening to social networks before deciding whether or not to invest in them. Twitter and Facebook are often the perfect examples of networks you don’t necessarily need to participate in, but often companies get pressured into it because of all of the buzz they get.

So what are you supposed to do when your boss says to you: we need a Facebook page? The first thing you need to say is, “that sounds like a good opportunity, let me investigate what our competitors are doing and how our customers are utilizing Facebook and get back to you.” Of course, it never really is that simple. The point you need to make is that you want to figure out what your customers want instead of deciding it for them.

Now it’s time to put your listening ears on and get to work:

  • Find out if any of your competitors are participating on the network
    • How frequently are they participating?
    • What types of messages are they leaving: fun, educational or are they just sending out mini-commercials?
    • How many people are interacting with them?
    • What is the sentiment of those interactions and which ones received the most comments?
    • What time of day and on what days are they participating?
    • Are they running any types of targeted promotions?
    • Which promos are getting them the most attention?
  • Find out how your customers are using the network
    • Are they using it solely for personal reasons and avoiding any type of commercial interaction?
    • Are they asking for input from the community on buying decisions?
    • Do they frequently participate with brands on the network?
    • How frequently are they participating?
    • What type of day and on which days is activity the highest?
    • Are they participating frequently in any contests/promotions?
    • Who are the key influencers on that network?

Let’s assume that based on the information you collected that it seems like a good network to participate on. Now you need to figure out what companies are doing the best job with their marketing on that network. Keep in mind that you can learn a lot from companies outside of your industry.

So before you decide that you should be on Facebook or Twitter or some other social network, take some time and do a little research to make sure it will be worth the huge investment you’re about to make. And remember, there is more to social media then Twitter and Facebook. Don’t overlook forums, industry associations and other targeted communities. In many cases they’ll provide you with perfectly targeted customers and may even lead to more conversions and success.

Taylor Pratt
Taylor Pratt is the Product Marketing Manager at Raven Internet Marketing Tools. With Raven you can conduct research and analysis, manage link building campaigns, track... Read Full Bio
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