An essential part of any marketing strategy is getting to know your audience and their needs. You need to know what their pain points are and what they’re searching for in order to effectively communicate with them. While you may not have a formal marketing strategy in place- maybe you are a one-woman small business owner just starting out, or starting a new company with limited resources- you should make social media listening, also known as social monitoring, a priority.
Social media is the largest focus group the world has ever seen and with advancements in technology, there are more and more opportunities to make that data work for you. But before you begin a social media listening campaign, you should have goals and a strategy in place to ensure your efforts are more fruitful.
Social Media Monitoring Strategy
Any good marketing strategy begins with goals. You need to have a purpose. Time is too valuable to “throw paint at a wall and see what sticks.” Your social listening campaign should also have goals. A good goal will be the backbone of your strategy. It gives it support and provides focus to a potentially chaotic activity. Here are three examples of common marketing strategy goals.
Social media can be a huge benefit to all your customer service needs. In a 2016 Forbes article about the importance of using Twitter for customer service, Jeff Lesser of Twitter was quoted as saying, “Twitter is public, which is a good thing. It’s one-on-one interaction, but with an audience. If the company responds quickly, then everyone can see an issue being resolved in real time. Sure, the company may need to have some private discussion with the customer – which can be done through Twitter’s Direct Message feature – but once the problem is resolved, the company can come back and publically thank the customer for the opportunity to serve him or her.”
Regardless of the size of your company, customer service is a crucial component. As you begin to think about your social listening strategy, one of your marketing goals ought to be a focus on responding to your customers and resolving their problems.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. A solid social listening strategy can help with your content marketing because you will have your finger on the pulse of your industry. If you are monitoring specific hashtags on Twitter or following news feeds on Facebook you can quickly produce relevant content as soon as it comes out.
Another essential component of content marketing is producing educational content by answering commonly asked questions. I feel this process should much more involved than a simple FAQ page on your site, where there is a question and maybe three or four sentences responding to each one. Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion wrote a phenomenal book called, “They ask You answer” where he basically says that anything your customer asks in regards to your product or service should be a full blog post.
That means things like price, quality, and competitors are fair game and should be openly discussed. If you are listening to social media chatter, you should be able to get plenty of ideas for new content to put on your site that specifically addresses customer questions. If they aren’t getting educated on your site, they are getting it somewhere else.
I have mixed feeling about this topic. Let me explain. I think it is invaluable to conduct market research and understand what your competitors are doing. I think that a proactive social media listening strategy (even if you can’t afford to pay for specific software, you should still be monitoring social media) can provide important insights and help you better market your brand. On the other hand, I also worry that too much focus on what your competitors are doing online can cause you to imitate them and lose your voice. It is very easy to look at a competitor site and see what they blog about and how they produce content and do exactly the same thing. Although sometimes that can be helpful, for example, if you see one of their blog posts that did well and you have insight that you can add to it, then it could help your traffic to write a similarly themed post.
But don’t discount doing market research on your audience and their needs. Don’t copy another site and start producing content if you don’t really know what your audience wants to read. Maybe video is a better fit or maybe a podcast. Competitor research should help you identify opportunities to do something new, not mindlessly imitate what everyone else is already doing.
Just end this already….
Ok, you have reached the end. Thanks for sticking with me up to this point. Social media listening can be a very formal process, with written out strategy and goals. There are numerous software providers that can scan multiple sources for specific keywords and provide an almost infinite stream of data. Some of them are more expensive than others. I will put together an actual list in a future post. Until then there are many many free services you can use, again, will that will be the focus of a future post.