We’ve written at length in the past about how to use social media to broadcast your business’ message, but this is only half the equation of social media marketing. The truth is, you shouldn’t just be using social media as a means to reach your customers, you should try to leverage it as a means to reach you and your business. This all starts with listening.
You have a relationship with your customers, one you want to be as positive as possible. As in any relationship, it is a give and take. Your customers give you their business and their loyalty. You must return that by listening to their concerns. Maybe if you listen, you’ll even be able to gain insights on how to earn even more business.
Think about how your customers use social media. They aren’t broadcasting messages or promoting sales. They are giving snapshots of their everyday lives. They are voicing their passions, interests, viewpoints and most importantly, their frustrations. Paying attention to this can help you avoid frustrated customers and bad reviews. It will also give you valuable insight upon your customers, and help you identify ways to better serve them.
But how do you listen to your customers? Start by creating what John calls “Listening Stations” on social media. Here’s how:
Create Twitter Lists
When Twitter introduced lists in 2009, they had intended for them to be used widely to allow users to create essentially custom timelines. While they haven’t been used as widely as initially intended, they can be incredibly valuable for business owners.
If your customers are on Twitter, add them to a list exclusively for your customers. That way, if say you are a plumber or contractor, you’ll know if they are complaining or complimenting your service even if they don’t tag or mention your business. You can also recognize when all of your customers are talking about the same thing, and perhaps you can enter the conversation. You may even be able to make generalizations about your customers that can add depth to your ideal customer personas.
Search Keywords and Business Name
Use searches on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest for your keywords that you have identified as part of your SEO strategy. You can even narrow your search to simply posts near you on Twitter (Example above.)
Simply searching is a great way to keep track of what is being said about a specific topic. Using the keywords you identify can not only give you an insight on the conversation occurring about your particular industry, but may also give you ideas of topics to cover when creating content. If a particular subject or question comes up frequently in social media, it is more likely to be shared, boosting your social influence. You can also keep an eye on the discussion surrounding your competitors this way.
If you don’t want to search frequently, use tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to keep track of hashtags or searches in real time.
Another great way to automatically listen to your customers is to set up alerts on your desired keywords. You can set up email alerts for social media using Social Mention, and receive daily notifications right in your inbox. Track your business name, any keywords you want to monitor and perhaps even your competitors. This won’t be real-time, so it may be faster to keep an eye on your live feeds you created above, but it can give you a nice daily overview if you want. You can even create alerts using more powerful tools like Buzzsumo.
Listen: It’s a great habit
Your customers want to be heard. Their comments on social media and blogs are valuable to you and your business. Get in the habit of listening to what they have to say, and you can earn their loyalty.
Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC