Social listening is hard to do but not for the reasons you might think.

Social listening means being quiet long enough to hear what others are saying.

What is social listening?

It’s tuning in to social media to hear what’s being said about your brand, your industry, or your competitors. It’s looking for opportunities to help. It’s gaining insight into how you’re being experienced and how you’re perceived in your market.

Why Social Listening Is Hard For Us

For many companies, the sum total of their social media engagement is an endless stream of cute quotes, job listings, or article links — but no listening. At best, someone is assigned to respond to direct messages, but no one’s watching the stream for conversation opportunities. For these companies, adding social listening will be an entirely new behaviour. And we know that cultivating new behaviours takes time and determination.

Developing a Listening Mindset

Once you make the decision to listen, you’ll want to notice how well you hear the people around you. Believe it or not, developing a listening mindset in the physical world will improve your cyber listening skills. When someone’s talking to you, are you concentrating fully on what’s being said or are you formulating your next comment? The skill is no different online. Once you decide you want to hear what’s being said, you’ll find rich opportunities to listen and engage.

Create Listening Posts

Your social media accounts should be the first places where you commit to listening. If your Twitter or Facebook account has been living life as a one-way marketing slam, start there. Ask a few questions or create a poll. It might take a while for people to realize you’ve joined the world of two-way conversation, so don’t give up. All you need is one engaging conversation for others to want to join in.

You may want to add Glassdoor.com and Yelp.com. These are places where people submit comments on their experience as an employee, a job candidate, or a customer. Look up your company name. You may want to look up your competitors’ names as well — not to get dirt on them, but to understand the overall sentiment for your industry. Note that if your competitors show up on those sites and you don’t, it may be an indication that your market share is smaller than you thought.

To manage multiple accounts, consider using a social media management system like Hootsuite. You can save searches to stay on top of popular hashtags for your industry or company, or even to listen to what your competitors’ clients are saying about them.

Once you get comfortable with your basic cyber listening skills, consider tracking your company’s online sentiment. Are comments mainly positive, neutral, or negative? How does this week compare with last week? From there, you can set corporate goals and begin an intentional social media journey.

Happy listening!

I’m always available for online banter – you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

 

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