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Published April 17th 2012

Converse & Convert: Tips for Listening and Conversing

Social media monitoring can be an incredibly valuable asset to almost any company, but really finding out exactly how to use it most effectively can be frustrating.

Our series of eBooks attempts to dispel some of the myths and promote some top tips on getting the most out of your monitoring tool. Our fourth eBook covers some great techniques on researching your market and using conversation to convert new leads. Here’s a quick summary of some of the information found inside.

Click here to read the full eBook

Understanding the balance between traditional marketing ‘push’ messages and engaging in more mundane and unbiased conversation is essential to social media success.

Think about listening this way: you are engaging a new audience with which you’re not yet familiar. If you were in person with this audience, would you just start shouting out your message?

Of course not, and the same holds true on social media. There is no bigger turnoff for social consumers than a brand that doesn’t listen, understand, and then respond.

Hey! Listen!

Listening to competitors, your own brand and the industry in general is always a good idea. Keeping track of trends and key topics relevant to your market can greatly help inform marketing strategy and also assists in locating which discussions you want your brand to be positioned in.

It hugely differs on whether you are selling to consumers or to businesses however. The overwhelmingly largest platform used by B2C companies is of course Facebook, accounting for over 75% of all social media marketing activity for those businesses.

B2B businesses instead spread their presences across Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter, with each platform sharing around 30% of social network activity.

While B2C marketers can often attract consumers with simple messages (e.g. food, relaxation, sunny getaways), B2B marketers frequently pursue audiences that are either unaware of a problem or don’t know that a solution to their problem exists.

Using social media monitoring to find these precise areas means not searching for words like ‘travel’ or ‘holidays’, but refining searches to align with your business’ specialities.

This would mean listening for conversations surrounding Christmas skiing holidays perhaps, or phrasing to look for mentions enquiring about cheap alternatives to cruises for example.

Case Study

When Sony began this kind of research, a word that kept appearing was “moms.” Sony took this information and quickly changed its marketing campaigns to focus on moms. Sony’s head start over its competitors was significant.

Nielsen had reported in late 2010 that the majority of tablet and eReader buyers were young and male, but Sony had the advantage by identifying a previously unseen niche and marketing and engaging accordingly.

Discovering the conversation around your product is just as important as the conversation about it.

Some tips for joining in the conversation about your brand

1. Be transparent:  This helps community members see your brand as something more than a company logo or product.

2. Add value: People use social media to learn or solve problems, so help them do so if you can. If you cannot, resist commenting for the sake of airtime. It wastes their time.

3. Be realistic: Don’t have a marketing person answering customer service or product development inquiries. Wait for the right person to respond.

4. Inform and educate without selling: Make sure the content you share really helps answer questions versus promoting your product/service.

5. Never lie: If unsure, check and double-check your facts before posting anything to a social media site. Remember that your gaffs will live on in perpetuity.

6. Adhere: to a social media policy. Avoid rogue posts and always ask yourself if the item you are about to share completely complies with your policy.

7. Converse Once you participate, be ready to field responses to your postings. Social media participants despise having their comments and feedback ignored.

8. Participate in others’ forums: Assuming you have established your own online forum, show that you respect others’ opinions by participating in some of their forums.

9. Sustain your social media effort: Nothing says “we don’t care” about the community more than an on-and-off presence in social media


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