The Listening phase is the first and, I would argue, the most important step in the L.E.A.D. ™ social media strategy. Like any conversation, listening affords the listener the luxury of understanding the nature of the conversation, the individuals involved, the subject matter, and the direction of the conversation. Listening also provides the listener with vital insights into where, when, why, and how your potential customers are talking about you or your brand. Listening for relevant content in social media can be difficult and requires understanding how to listen and for what.
Listening with a purpose
The objectives of the listening phase are to understand the conversations that are currently happening around your brand. You will use tools that will tell you when your brand is mentioned on web sites, blogs, Twitter, publicly accessible Facebook pages, and more. Initially mentions may be nothing more then changes that you make to your own website or on your own blog, but eventually these mentions will begin to indicate when people are talking about you.
But what if there are no mentions of our brand? Not a problem, this is generally an indication that your brand is not being discussed or mentioned on-line yet. This is a great opportunity for you to start conversations or seed discussion that is relevant to your brand without making a direct sales pitch. Remember that the tools that you use to listen and the terms you are listening to do not necessarily have to be brand names but could be keywords.
By listening you will find:
- Where people are talking
- What people are saying
- How people feel about you
- Problems & common concerns
- Trends & opportunities
Social Media Listening Devices
There are a number of tools at your disposal for listening to conversations on-line. The following is a list of some of the ones I recommend. Ofcourse, there are many other ancillary tools that piggyback on these that can further refine your listening. My goal is to provide you with the basic tools. You can always get more advanced as your become experienced with listening and monitoring your brand.
- Google Alerts – Notifies you when your keywords or brand show up in Google searches.
- Backtype – Monitors blog comments for your keywords
- Yacktrack - Notifies you of mentions of your keywords in social comments.
- Boardtracker - Monitors discussion forums and notifies you when your name is mentioned in a post.
- Twitter Search – Allows you to search for your brand or keywords across twitter.
- FriendFeed - Aggregator that pulls in all your social feeds for single view
- Alert Thingy – Receive desktop notifications from Friendfeed
- Social Mention – Allows you to track mentions of your brand across blogs, videos, photos, etc.
In the upcoming article we will discuss of each of these tools in more detail.
Your Listening Goals
There is no clear return on investment for your time in listening to social media. The returns are somewhat intangible and can be more closely related to market research or market analysis. What you are doing during this phase is to understand and define what your social media strategy should be and how best to engage with your customers and potential customers. Some success factors to consider for the listening phase include:
- Creating a list of sites where your potential customers hang out.
- Find and follow your competitors.
- Understand what type of information your customers are looking for when they are on-line.
- Understand where you can start promoting conversations without a lot of work.
For more online monitoring tools, take a look at this Mashable Article.