By: Dan Schawbel
on Thursday, February 28, 2013
When it comes to designing your social strategy, success depends on your ability to tune your technique and have the right initial approach if you want to effectively engage the audience. One of the best ways to do this is to simply listen.
Social listening takes time and attention to gain the benefit of your time invested. This is because there are certain particulates of information that you need to pay attention to. Some are easy to find while others will take a little digging and research. However, as long as you keep your ears open, you’ll hear exactly what you need in order to set your social strategy straight.
Keep Your Ears Open
In practice, it’s generally good to know what the buzz about your brand is before you begin constructing your social strategy. However for many of us, our social has already been launched, so we’re only in the process of tuning and adjusting.
Initially, you’ll want to begin by simply understanding what the volume of activity is currently in the online world. This doesn’t just adhere to social networks, but other various mediums, such as forums, websites, affiliates, and even mobile users (this is growing, so be sure to incorporate it into your strategy if you haven’t already).
Pay Attention to the Conversation
To further listen in, you’ll need to pay attention to who is talking about your brand, such as its demographics.
Look at the conversation and interaction levels on your social network, not just the “Likes” and followers. [tweet this]
Then you’ll need to ask yourself: where are they? What social networks and forums are they using and when? Even if you’re already active on social networks, that doesn’t mean that the conversation about your brand is restricted to just these specific ones. Your LinkedIn and Facebook may be your popular choice for social use, but tweets or pins concerning your brand may actually be evading your scope unless you listen in for them.
Once you’ve found the conversation, you’ll need to find out exactly what is being said. Why are they talking about your brand? Is it your expertise? A certain product or service? Is the feedback positive, negative, or neutral? There are very few tools that can help target content sentiment of which are seldom reliable on their own since context can be difficult to define (sarcasm and criticism). In this case, you’ll actually want to analyze the conversation for yourself and listen in.
What are your desired results?
Not everyone’s social strategy is designed to achieve the same results. So, you’ll need to ask yourself what it is that you want out of your online endeavors. Are you seeking improved traffic? Increasing awareness? Data capture?
For the most part, using analytical tools to help listen in on the conversation is the most effective method of listening in, especially since it can be extremely time consuming to follow every single bit of conversation without some form of filtering. The practice of researching keywords and hashtags that are relatable to your brand is an ideal place to start listening, since it is the defining trend that is current right now. From there, you can generate content that unites the audience with your brand.
Once you know what to listen for and what to do with it, you’ll be able to create a social marketing strategy to further your personal branding success. And if you’re willing to listen to your audience, you’ll be able to deliver the content that they want to hear, which is the great value that social networks deliver.
Maria Elena Duron is the Managing Editor of the Personal Branding Blog, CEO (chief engagement officer) of buzz2bucks.com – a word of mouth marketing firm, and a professional speaker and trainer on developing social networks that work. She provides workshops, webinars, seminars and direct services that help create conversation, connection, credibility, community and commerce around your brand. Maria Duron is founder and moderator of @brandchat - a weekly Twitter chat focused on every aspect of branding that is recognized by Mashable as one the 15 Essential Twitter Chats for Social Media Marketers.