The Science of Listening in Social Media and Blogs

According to a Forrester survey last year, more than 3/4 of the surveyed companies monitor conversations in social media and blogs on a regular basis and respond to customer comments. Where do you stand with that? Effective listening takes strategy and time, but mostly it takes commitment. You have to appreciate the benefits and commit the resources on a consistent basis or you may miss opportunities to reinforce your brand. Here are some concrete steps every company should consider.

  • Appoint someone savvy in social media to be your designated “listener” – make this an important part of their job and dedicate at least 20% of their time to the task. Bigger companies with more popular brands create teams of people to fulfill this role.
  • Create a listening strategy – which social networks are relevant to your customers and what words are they likely to use in conversations? Create a list of keywords to listen for, including your brand, products, events, personnel (and their social media profile names), industry, and any important topics that are relevant to your customers. You may also want to include your competitors, industry influencers and customers as listening keywords.
  • Create a response strategy – create a list of acceptable responses for different types of positive and negative comments. Ideally, your designated listener is also authorized to respond, so that you don’t lose time waiting for review and approval. Sometimes this isn’t possible, so at least work out a way to get a quick response from an approver. The more you can “humanize” these responses, the better. Don’t be to stiff and corporate. Remember where you are – in places like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Set up your technology – there are many social media monitoring tools for both desktop and mobile ranging from free tools to enterprise level suites. Here is a great infographic to help you scope out the right toolkit for your company.
  • Set up a daily plan – activate your tools with your listening strategy and plan your schedule for monitoring. Ideally, you want to check your alerts and real-time tools every hour at a minimum, so that opportunities are always relatively fresh.
  • Be accountable – let management know what is going on with regular reports on social media activity and responses. Don’t just create a report though – give them your expert judgment on what is happening and how the company should adapt to changing conditions. Things can spiral out of control quickly in social networks, so be proactive. Remember, you are protecting your brand as well as enhancing it.

listening to social media and blogs protects your brand

What about blogs?

You also want to monitor blogs and blog comments as part of your listening strategy. Include in your listening arsenal one or more blog monitoring tools like:

  • Google Alerts – a free Google service that monitors keywords and sends you aggregated notifications
  • Social Mention – this free tool allows you to monitor social media, blogs and blog comments and get e-mail alerts and “sentiment” analysis – an indication of whether the content is positive, negative or neutral to your brand
  • IceRocket – a free tool that allows you to discover trends, top keyword phrases and mentions in the blogosphere, and search your keywords across thousands of blogs

There are many more free services you can use. Find one that fits your needs and get busy listening!

Photo credit: CarbonNYC 

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Comments: 2

  • These are great tips for most businesses. Depending on the vertical/industries they’re focused on and the bandwidth of the marketing department, would it benefit them to focus on the tribes and individuals who are more relevant for them? Listening can be overwhelming when one just runs a broad search across an entire social channel. While one may miss a small percentage of relevant posts, you’ll be able to tackle the majority of the important and most relevant individuals (including those on the long tail, so long as they are relevant). What are your thoughts?

  • Arthur,

    Definitely. Some sort of “triage” strategy needs to be in place, where you put the most resources targeted at the most likely source of damage and success. Monitoring your brand keywords should help you decide where the trouble spots are and where the fertile fields are. Thanks for your comment, John

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