listen-to-social-media 2 Quick, Actionable Steps to Listen and Respond to Your Audience with Social SearchWhat does social media listening actually mean – and how do we do it?

Among social media how-to lists, there’s normally a sage piece of advice about really listening to what your audience has to say. But what does that actually mean? Here are 2 quick, actionable steps that let you listen and respond for quality social media marketing:

1.    The Power of Search

twitter-search 2 Quick, Actionable Steps to Listen and Respond to Your Audience with Social Search

 2 Quick, Actionable Steps to Listen and Respond to Your Audience with Social Search

Use search functions on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and others. Search for mentions of your brand’s name, as well as your products, and events you’re attending. Join in the conversation.

For your products, try search terms like “Any recommendations for…” or  “I’m looking for a new…”

2. Now, respond to what you’ve heard

I’m sure you’ve had the experience of sending a Tweet and then being randomly followed by a company whose brand tenuously matches a word you included. For example, I was recently followed by Clifton Cars, or @BristolCarSales after Tweeting the hashtag “#Bristol”.

Do you think this is spammy? Personally, I do. It’s pretty sure to have been an auto-follow bot, and my profile and Tweets show no interest whatsoever in cars or in buying a new car. This scatter-gun approach just comes across as mildly spammy, and does nothing to create positive brand feel amongst a potential audience.

So how to do it better? I think the key is to search, follow and reply manually to be sure that your product is likely to be relevant to this new person who, like us all, has to wade through a gazillion spam messages per day over various platforms.  Approach interested parties with a friendly, personalised message.

Being relevant does work. Here’s an example of how effective relevance can be:

How a love of coconuts taught me about relevant response

In 2011 I did a series of Tweets under the #100ThingsILove hashtag. One Tweet was #100ThingsILove coconuts. A company called CocoCUT got in touch with me. They sell a device that lets you cut the tops off fresh green coconuts with ease (any non-expert who’s tried that task with a machete will be glad of something that takes the tops off quickly and safely.)

CocoCUT followed, and sent me a friendly, personalised Tweet. As a piece of relevant, targeted marketing, it stuck in my memory for a whole two years, as did the brand name and product.

social-media-coconuts 2 Quick, Actionable Steps to Listen and Respond to Your Audience with Social Search

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