Let's say you just got hired to build up a company's social media strategy from the ground up. This company doesn't have much in the way of social media - just the standard Facebook and Twitter accounts that are updated whenever people get around to it.
The company is looking to have a well-rounded social presence and wants to establish a distinct voice and be a consistent communicator in the social space. What do you do first?
I came across this article about a recently hired community services administrator in New Haven, CT that struck me as a great analogy. As social-services chief, Martha Okafor's job is the to be the new "top mayoral aide in charge of dealing with public health, housing the homeless, reaching at-risk teens, serving the elderly, guiding prisoners into productive lives back in the community."
When asked what her agenda was and her first order of business, she replied that she had no specific plans, but that:
She first wants to listen to people. That’s how she does business. Over the past 22 years, since immigrating to the U.S. from Nigeria, Okafor has put plenty of plans to work, in Harlem, in Connecticut state government, most recently in Georgia. “I may have an idea what worked well in Georgia,” she said. “It may not work well in New Haven.”
If it sounds too simple, it's not.
Listening and learning the social behavior of your customers is always the first step. You need a tool that can do that comprehensively, not just on one or two social platforms. You can't just jump into the social space without a clear understanding of how your company fits in to the social landscape.
Where on the Internet are people talking about your brand and what topics are they discussing? The chatter may not even be specifically about your company or product. It could be tangential. This can also be very valuable, as it gives you a great idea of the interests and issues of your people, and it gives you an opportunity to design a program to address those issues. Knowing where the conversation is happening online is half the battle.
Maybe you are a niche B2B company, and you discover that there's plenty of talk online about your niche, but not too much about your brand. It's no surprise then that your Facebook page is virtually empty, but because you've instituted a wider listening program, you find a bunch of lively forums discussing you and your competitors. This leads to you to a competitive intelligence audit that helps you discover what opportunities your company might be missing out on.
Besides competitive intelligence, there are many more areas you can expand your targeted social listening into. How many of these 8 uses apply to your business?
These social listening applications should be applied across the company, possibly in different departments. The keywords you'll be searching for should be unique for each objective. Searching for the name of the company won't do - you have to get strategic and combine specific phrases that will yield results.
Some searches will be put together to target the language people are using when talking about your industry or market, while others will contain the names of your product/services and maybe some key marketing language. Each search should have a specific objective and measurable metrics that support that objective. The one thing you don't want to do is get a bunch of results from different keywords all muddled together in one confusing mess.
Review the metrics, analyze the learnings and send them across the organization to justify the new social direction of the company. When your new ideas can be backed up with social research and data, you will get the most support from your company internally.
Have you put together a strategic social media listening program for your company yet?