Are you listening; really listening to the conversations going on about you and your products? As a CEO and an adviser to governments and politicians, I do a lot of listening. I even wrote a blog post about my listening into my industry, Government 2.0.

In the 1990’s and early 2000’s it was “You got mail” as made famous by the AOL advertising stable. Now the new thing is a play on the old one, “You’ve got Klout.” Or do you? Or do you have Peerindex? Do you know your grade on Grader? Do you know what your Kred is? Did you know you can see how many impressions you get through Twitter using a variety of tools like Crowdbooster and others?

It’s okay if you don’t; most people have no clue. But you need to get a clue. It might seem like fun and games as in the social media stock market “Empire Avenue.” But the reality is, people are watching; whether employers, potential employers, clients, friends, enemies, ex-spouses, competitors, the police, governments, and of course giant database companies. It is like credit scores were maybe 25 years ago: they mattered but they did not rule your life like credit scores do now. Social media influence and “credibility” are of increasing importance. So these scores, whether real or gamed, whether you subscribe or not, matter.

Real keyword and conversation searching brings your audience to you. Being passive and not searching through your social networks does not. It is pretty simple. Relying on one analytical metric to track your progress or that of the campaigns you are running is a false flag. You need to incorporate a constant monitoring of multiple channels in order to really understand what is going on. Indeed as I have written about before elsewhere, social media is a two edged sword, and this applies both to engagement and listening equally.

So, what should you do?

  1. Start using listening tools like: Tweetdeck; Hootsuite, Bottlenose, and Google and Bing alerts.
  2. Engage through real conversation, not a one way broadcast model; talk to people like you would at a coffee shop or across your kitchen table.
  3. Do not rely on just one metric to follow your progress, but rather think about it like this: times change. Social media is no longer just a buzzword, but really a part of daily life. It might even be like a utility in the near future, something the average person literally cannot live without. Therefore the more you know about what you are listening to, the better.
  4. Relate social media to real world business. If you are a retailer, use social media for customer service with active listening and response to problems. If you are a restaurant, use it to promote chefs specials or bring in someone to create images of your food to post on Facebook or Google +,  or tweet daily specials. Compare your foot traffic on days when you do this versus days you don’t. Thank your customers, talk to them just like you would in real life.
  5. Actively search your social media platforms for conversations going on around your industry, about you, or your competitors. Engage with the influencers and outliers alike about the things that drive business to yo. Reaching out to those leaders in the conversations to dialog with you on a real basis shows you are both listening and showing the world you know your stuff too.

When you incorporate active listening into your social media efforts, you’ll be rewarded with more authentic interactions with your customers and potential customers. And the better those interactions are, the better chance for increased revenue, increased customer satisfaction, and repeat business.

Listening image courtesy of Shutterstock

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