All I Know About Social Media, I Learned by Listening

From an early age, we’re taught to look before we leap.  We understand intuitively the importance of gathering information about the world around us.  We look both ways before crossing the street.  We check the DJIA, NASDQ and S&P before buying or selling stock.

As communications professionals, we, likewise, understand the value of external data. We gather feedback (i.e., customer and competitor input) before we make decisions that involve risk and/or reward.  We do market research before launching a new PR campaign.  We listen before we launch.

When it comes to social media public relations, however, we often forget to look and listen.  We gravitate toward Facebook because ‘everyone has a Facebook page.’  We launch a company blog because blogging is all the rage.

Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to take a more strategic approach to digital PR.  Social outposts are tailor-made for looking and listening.  With little more than a computer, internet access and a dose of determination, we have easy access to what customers are saying and competitors, doing.

Among the information at our fingertips:

  • Customer data re: social media behaviors and preferences:
    • Which sites do customers frequent?
    • What type of content do they prefer (e.g., contests, conversations, videos, promotions)?
    • What tone do they respond to (e.g., educational, self-promotional, fun, straight-forward)?
    • Are there patterns re: online engagement – day of the week?  Time of day?
    • Do customers voice complaints online?  Ask questions?  If so, what do their comments reveal?
  • Competitor information:
    • Which sites do competitors frequent?
    • What content do they post online (tone, format)?
    • Who engages with their content?
  • Industry issues:
    • What key issues surround the business?
    • What keywords and themes are opinion leaders discussing?
    • Who are the key influencers?

Given the wealth of data available through social channels, it’s surprising that so few communications professionals listen before they launch a social media PR initiative.

For those that do, there are tremendous rewards for the taking – i.e., easy access to competitive intelligence, customer feedback and industry insights.

What is your approach to social media listening?

To reach Meg:
Phone:  212.840.0095
Twitter: @megwildrick
LinkedIn: Meg Wildrick