Whether you drive your firm’s social media activity in-house or use an external public relations agency, it’s important to remember that effective social media strategy means using it to engage, not just broadcast. Even for PR firms, it’s all too easy to forget that engagement has to go both ways – it doesn’t just mean getting customers to like or comment on your posts; you also have to do your bit in joining the conversation. And sometimes that means seeking out conversations to join: that’s where social listening comes in.
Customers and potential customers talk about brands on social media all the time, but they don’t always express such comments directly at the brand, for example by tagging your Twitter handle or Facebook page. In fact, almost a third of tweets mentioning a company name don’t include a Twitter handle. What this means for your brand is that, ultimately, a fair chunk of people who mention your brand on social media are talking about you, rather than to you. And as any good public relations agency will tell you, those aren’t people you want to ignore.
At the heart of social listening is monitoring for mentions of your brand. Make sure you’re searching for your untagged brand name as well as your social media handle. Also remember to check for common or likely misspellings. You may also want to combine searches with related keywords, or even for terms such as “love” and “hate”, to find out what people are really saying about your brand!
When you find people talking about your brand, then it’s time to engage. Whether handling social media in-house or using external PR firms, good social media staff know how to listen to what’s being said, and respond appropriately. There are times when the conversation can naturally be turned into a selling opportunity, others when it’s time to launch into customer service mode and try to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one, and still others that represent an excellent chance to spread a story and engage more people in the conversation.