Social Media Listening

Social media has changed the way business is done. Small business owners have access to a level of research and business intelligence that we never had access to before, In the past, pre-Twitter, this type of information was only available to big companies that could afford to hire high level research specialists and quite honestly by the time you received the information it was old.

By applying a few smart social media strategies and using social media tools you can learn how to listen online, figure out what your market wants, and position yourself to be found by the exact people you want to connect with. All this and likely spend less time then you are spending now. Keep reading and I will share how.

Listening Online

The principles of business have not changed just where it happens… It is on #socialmedia and I hope you have made your way there.”

One issue that comes up often for my clients is the noise level on social media, they get overwhelmed by the amount of pointless chatter and annoyed by the constant sales broadcasting. By the time they come to me they have had it and want nothing to do with this thing called social media. Yes it’s noisy, yes, everyone is flying fast and attention spans are at an all time low so if you are only broadcasting on social media you are missing the real value. You will not be heard. Our approach is a bit different… we focus on the most overlooked social media skill, listening…

What conversations are happening? Who is talking to who? What are the pain points of your potential clients and how can you help them? These are all important questions to ask as you being to apply this new approach. It actually begins outside of social media.

Step One – Get Clarity and Build a Map

ClarityFigure out who you want to listen to the best way to do this is to build a persona. Clarity is the key to setting up effective listening channels. Before you start to do this online, spend some time mapping out the following

  • Who do you want to connect with and WHY?
  • Where they are, is it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap Chap? That is where you will want to be spending your time. Don’t like that platform, learn it, you need to be where they are.
  • Are they potential clients, media, strategic partners, vendors?
  • What do you know about them? Think peripherally, beyond business… where do they travel? Eat? Shop? what are their Likes? Dislikes? What are they reading, listening to, watching?  You may be shaking your head about now thinking how am I going to know this…. simply find one person that would be a great prospect and check them out on social media, see what they are up to. 
  • Give them a name…. YES a name. Really get to know this person they will be your guide to find more people like them by listening on social media.
  • You may need more then one persona based on your business goals. Start with one, get the process down and then it will be easier to replicate. This is research.

Gather all of this information in one place so it will be easy to transfer to a social media management tool.

Open the Toolbox

Social media management tools are mandatory, without using tools to zero in on conversations you will quickly become frustrated. I love HootSuite, but there are many other. One thing you want to look for is the ability to listen, track, build custom streams. I am going to focus on how I use HootSuite, but this strategy can be applied using other tools to.

Profiles Have Hidden Intelligence

  • Follow the instructions in HootSuite’s help section for connecting your social media accounts (the free version allows up to 3 accounts)
  • Once that is done follow the instructions for setting up custom streams, they have a great help section.
  • Create a Tab for the person you want to follow and add their custom streams for their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram accounts side by side.
  • SSPR Twitter BioClick on their @name to review their profile right from HootSuite – there is a ton of intellegence here:
    • First tab – see their profile
    • Second tab – see their tweets
    • Third tab – see who mentions them – this is who is talking about THEM
    • Fourth tab – See what they like
  • On Profile view:
    • Look at their Followers, you can click and follow them right from HootSuite
    • Read their bio – this tells a lot and may include keywords and hashtags – learn more about keywords and hashtags
    • Visit their Twitter profile
    • Visit their website
  • Bottom Buttons
    • Follow
    • Unfollow
    • Send a Direct Message
    • Reply to them
    • Add them to a Twitter List

Listen to the Streams

Now that you have all of the information in front of you, here is how to listen to the streams.

Look: For hashtags, keywords, other people to follow, events they are attending, what they are reading, listening to, watching, likes and dislikes, etc.

List: Start a list of everything that catches your eye and start tracking these things too. Do not overwhelm yourself, just a few at a time.

Connect: Engage, share other people’s content, tell them why you liked it. Say hi.

Build Relationships: Keep it going, come back and engage on a regular basis.

Tweak: This is all based on conversations, trends, events, it will change. Tweak your intelligence dashboard based on your business goals, your conversations, the people you want to connect with, events you will attend. It can be anything.

The Goal: To align your social strategy with your business strategy to help you get there faster and more effectively.

The Dashboard

Below is a screenshot of one of my dahsboards. In this example, I am following @HootSuite on Facebook and Twitter and the hashtag #HootSuite. What I identified from a quick look at this screen is the following:

  • An article I want to read – 15 Resources for Creating Beautiful Social Media Images.
  • Learn more about Social Quant
  • #ManageFlitter and #socialmedia are hashtags to research

HootSuite Social Media

These are a few examples, think about what you can learn when you customize these dashboards to work for you, to bring you the intelligence you need to know to grow your business…

What will you research? Please post below I want to know.


Donna Cravotta