There are two sides to a brand’s social media strategy. One side is your social media content creation – which most people and brands are aware of. After all, phrases like “Content is king” has been engrained in most marketers’ brains. But that is just the beginning of a complete social media strategy. The other side to your strategy is social media listening.
Here are seven key steps to developing an effective, complete social media strategy with an emphasis on listening.
1) Conduct a content audit. A content audit is an audit of all the content you have on your site. Conducting a content audit helps you organize and categorize all your assets. Categorize your content as: promotional, thought leadership specific, industry news, etc. Take note of all your content. If too much of your content is promotional, you’ll want to adjust your content creation strategy to include more industry news and thought leadership content.
2) Analyze how and where you are sharing your content. Decide where you need to adjust. Based on the content you are sharing on social media take a look at the analytics to see how well that content is performing. Look at Twitter analytics, Facebook analytics and LinkedIn analytics to see what kind of content garners the most engagement. Do you notice any patterns on which posts do the best? Do you have a greater audience on Twitter rather than Facebook? Decide how your content posting strategy needs to adjust based on your observations.
3) Determine your target audience and make sure you listen to them and pay attention to what they’re doing, too. Once you have established what content you should be posting and where, it’s time to listen to what others are saying. Just like life in general, no one likes someone who only talks about themselves on social media. You want to take the time to determine your target audience and listen to what they’re saying. Engage with your audience and reply to what they’resaying.
4) Monitor for conversations around your brand and industry with online tools and TweetDeck. One free and easy way to monitor for what people are saying about your brand is to set up columns on your TweetDeck or Hootsuite. Set up columns monitoring for mentions and interactions with your brand’s handle and your brand’s name without the handle. Set up columns for key industry terms and also for your competitors’ handles and names. Keep an eye on what people are saying about your competitors. The four key things you want to monitor for on social media – especially Twitter are:
1) Complaints: Forty-two percent of people who complain on Twitter expect a response within 60 minutes. People are active on Twitter with 325,000 tweets sent per minute, and they expect a timely response. Make sure you’re listening to them and addressing their concerns. Have canned responses in place for different complaints. Escalate as need be but make sure you acknowledge them and then take it offline. Try to resolve the issue via email of phone.
2) Praise: Thank people who are complimenting or congratulating you. Acknowledge and thank them with direct responses or retweets of their praise.
3) Inquiries: Answer people’s questions – don’t leave them hanging.
4) Recommendations/referrals: Make sure you acknowledge peoples’ recommendations and let them know you’re listening to their feedback.
5) Pay attention to breaking news and leverage your own content appropriately. According to an InkHouse study, 41 percent of news shared is breaking news. Whenever news breaks, there’s a potential opportunity that you can leverage this news for your brand. And old news is no longer “second day news” with social media and everything breaking in real time, you run the risk of “second hour news.” After a couple hours, you’re already late to the party. Pay attention to the news every day, and reply as appropriate. Maybe there’s breaking news about a malware attack and you’re an IT security company. How quickly can you tweet out a blog post or another piece of content that offers tips on how to protect against malware or other helpful security initiatives.
However, make sure you take the time to research the breaking news. In some cases, the news is not appropriate and it is better to say nothing. Take for example, DiGiorno Pizza who one night noticed the trending hashtag, #WhyIStayed. This hashtag had a very serious meaning and significance because it was used by domestic abuse victims who were sharing their personal experiences in abusive relationships. This hashtag and conversation was a result of the Ray Rice and Janay Rice abuse video that surfaced. DiGiorno thought the hashtag was for anyone to share their own personal, quirky responses.
This was not the case and their tweet “#WhyIStayed You had pizza” became the victim of several angry people who lashed out saying how inconsiderate and inappropriate their tweet was. DiGiorno immediately deleted the tweet and issued an apology tweet four minutes later. There are a few lessons here. First, always take the time to research and double check the meaning of a trending hashtag. See if it is even appropriate for you to leverage. Second, if you make a mistake, own up to it and publicly apologize.
6) Join and monitor forums where people are talking about your brand. Respond when appropriate. Make sure you join and monitor relevant LinkedIn Groups in your industry. In LinkedIn Groups, brands cannot post – it is the individual who is displayed. This allows you to take on the human face of your brand and share your industry expertise. Share your brand’s products and services while taking the time to listen to others’ expertise in your respective industries. Also, check out Quora. Search for topics and keywords relevant to your brand and industry. Answer peoples’ questions and link back to a blog post or other form of content to provide additional value. Post your own topic as well – maybe it is an infographic you want to show off or a new blog post about an industry topic.
7) Don’t be a robot. Listen to your target audience and those who are similar to your brand. Engage with them. Last but not least, don’t be a robot. Listen to other people rather than only pushing out your own content. Acknowledge breaking news and leverage when appropriate. If you have content scheduled and a tragedy is breaking, it is no longer appropriate for brands to push out promotional content – make sure you cancel whatever you have in the scheduled queue. Remember, sometimes it is most strategic to not say anything but if you can add value, don’t fall victim to “second hour news.”
To learn more about social media listening, check out this PR News webinar I presented: Developing an Effective Social Listening Strategy for Your Brand.