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When You Listen to Your Audience, You Win

social media listening

This is a guest post by Cendrine Marrouat, a social media coach, blogger, and curator, and one of Paper.li’s blog staff writers. She is also the founder of Social Media Slant (http://www.socialmediaslant.com), a blog focusing on social media tips, tools, stats, and news for small business owners and solo-entrepreneurs. Her latest book, The Little Big eBook on Social Media Audiences: Build Yours, Keep It, and Win (2014) (http://www.amazon.com/Little-eBook-Social-Media-Audiences-ebook/dp/B00KAQZJ28), focuses on the four pillars of relationship and audience building: Finding, Engaging, Creating, and Connecting. 

Overview

In this day and age, a company that does not monitor what the online world is saying about its brand is missing out on important data. Without social listening, a strategy is quite simply incomplete. Here is what you can do to get started…

A few years ago, I featured a promising company in one of my articles. Weeks later, the CEO sent me an email to thank me.

“How on earth does he even know about my write-up,” I asked myself. “I have never talked to anyone working there!”

Well, as it turns out, someone had been keeping track of mentions on social platforms. That’s how they came across the Tweet where I promoted the article. They clicked the link, read the post, and reached out to me. Et voilà!

I often talk about this little story to draw people’s attention to the importance of social listening. The practice has so many benefits! For example, you can gain insight into your audience; catch problems, complaints, and questions, and address them accordingly; and serve people better as a result.

Most importantly, social listening gives you the ability to continue the conversation, show others that you care, humanize your brand, and turn your audience into a community of advocates! Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of that?

Let me show you how today.

Positive and Negative Comments

Have you checked the comments on your blog or social media profiles lately? If not, time to have a look and use them to your advantage!

After releasing its commercial featuring gay and interracial couples, Honey Maid had to face a barrage of hateful messages. The company did not respond in kind. Instead, they made a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBC-pRFt9OM) showing two artists rolling up sheets of paper with the negative messages and then arranging them to spell the word “love.” The result? The video went viral, gathering more than 1.8 million views within 48 hours of publication on YouTube!

The Value of Spam

There was a time when deleting irrelevant guest post pitches from my inbox took me several hours a day…

…That is until a specific pitch hit a nerve. It was so bad that I had to turn off my computer to avoid responding.

After my initial annoyance, I decided to visit my guest posting submission page on my blog. To my surprise, I realized that the guidelines were not specific enough.

I amended them right away. Within a couple of weeks, the amount of spam had been cut by more than 60%! Now, I even receive emails in which people share some fascinating details about themselves and why they started blogging!

As you can see, spam may prove invaluable. Plus, it lands in your inbox without you having to request it. And best of all, it is free!

Social Network Monitoring

The social media realm is a vast universe. Millions of Tweets, Facebook updates, and articles are posted every day. So, the prospect of having to comb through all that can be daunting. Trust me, I know the feeling!

Thankfully, you don’t have to do it yourself. There are tools that will make things much easier for you. Here are four of my favorites:

  • Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts – These two services send you email updates on the latest results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.

  • Mention.net – One of the best! Mention scours the Internet (social networks, news sites, forums, blogs…) for 
mentions of your name or keywords of your choice.

  • PinAlerts – Created for Pinterest, this service notifies you whenever someone pins your content from your website.

Now that you have some tools to play around with, the next step is to ensure that you cover as much ground as possible. Do not just monitor your name and the name of your website. Include your domain name too (e.g. socialmediaslant.com). And if, like me, you have a unique or unusual name, (at least in this part of the world) chances are that people will misspell it. So, take advantage of it!

Also, keep an eye on your slogan, the titles of your articles, videos, photos, infographics, and your announcements.

With Twitter Search, for example, you can access negative mentions. Try combining keywords like “brand name + fail / bad / negative / unhappy.”

“What’s next,” you ask? Well, time to let others know that you have noticed them. Thank them. Continue the conversation. Look at their profiles. Share their stuff too. Then, watch what happens!

Feedback Is Vital!

Beyond monitoring online conversations, you can also get some great insights by asking people directly what makes them tick.

Soliciting feedback from others is one of my favorite things to do. Knowing that I can count on their suggestions is fantastic. Their advice has helped me make better-informed decisions as an entrepreneur and a person. Actually, without them, my website Social Media Slant (http://www.socialmediaslant.com) would look very different. And my books would not exist in their current formats.

You can ask for feedback on pretty much anything, including your slogan, mission statement, website, content, and topic ideas.

While requesting feedback can be done in many ways, I have found that specific and targeted questions work best. For example: “What do you think of the colors / graphics / fonts / widgets… I chose for my redesign?” or “Is there something I could do to serve you better?”

Short answers like “Great!” or “It sucks” are useless. The goal of feedback is to help you make things as useful and relevant to your audience as possible. You will know, for instance, if you are going in the right direction with your strategy, and/or whether or not your current goals need to be adjusted.

When you request user feedback, you openly invite your audience to tell you more about them. You also give them the ability to contribute to your success – even in small ways.

Paying close attention to other people’s ideas and opinions is one of the most important things in business. It helps build trust and positive word of mouth.

You can follow Cendrine’s social media channels for more articles and tips: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cendrinemedia

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+CendrineMarrouat

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/socialmediaslant

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