In an online world where social media reigns supreme, it can be hard to cut through the constant bombardment of content and chatter, to find the real meaning in it all.
I know when I first started out on Twitter I got totally overwhelmed at this stream of tweets that never ended, from people I didn’t know, and most of it seemed irrelevant. Nowadays I know exactly where to look and what to do to cut to the heart of the matter – be it business or personal.
Once Facebook optimized the home feed, I used to find there was way too much to information to scan through. Frankly the feed left me feeling I was missing out on my friends’ lives and all the important events or brand updates. Now I filter the right information and use the new features to see what I want when I want (within reason).
If some of those challenges sound familiar to you too, then here’s something to help you make sense of it all. We will cover what social media engagement should be, tools and tips to get better at it, and then ways to integrate that into your business plans and marketing strategy.
How to make the most of social listening
The first step for engaging on social media should always be listening. Whether it’s for your everyday lead generation tactics, when you launch a product or service, or before each new campaign you run, as it is essentially your market research. You can start with two simple actions.
Create an RSS feed on Twitter
Do this first to search for results on what people are saying about your company or brand name, as well as your competitors. Watch that for at least a week to understand what the components of the conversation are – customer or client complaints and/or endorsements, news articles, comments and what the tone behind all of this is.
To get your own RSS feed or that of competitors simply use this code below and replace xxxxx with your Twitter username to use your Twitter RSS Feed:
Note: RSS feeds do not always work in Google Chrome.
Search on Social Mention
Next use Social Mention to run more searches on your brand, a few competitors, and some of the top keywords for the brand/industry. This will give you an idea of the market share and a benchmark on which to measure yourself against your competitors. It will also help you to better understand the brand discussion across the web and what those key topics are.
Social Mention will show you your reach, the sentiment (positive, negative, neutral), hashtags commonly used, top people mentioning you and more. Do it for yourself to see the results. And it’s free.
How to monitor your brand in the social media world
Obviously the above `social listening’ methods will go a long way towards giving you a system by which to continue monitoring your brand and that of others you’d like to emulate. You can then use the information from both Twitter and Social Mention to help determine what you can do better, what other opportunities you can maximize or the gaps you can fill and what you’re missing.
Regardless of whether you’ve just launched a product or service, you should always continue to listen and then measure the conversation and sentiment against your past progress. Ways to do this are look at retweets, shares, comments, trackbacks on your blog, stumbles – basically social shares.
In addition you can judge the increase in mentions, influence, strength, sentiment, testimonials and referrals you’re receiving not only through Social Mention but through free analytics tools provided by Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter, YouTube Insights and WordPress.
Which tools to use regularly for social mentions and monitoring
I don’t think there’s one tool (unless you’re prepared to pay a lot of money) that does it all. But if you’re prepared to pick your favourites you can get all the data you need to make smart decisions about what you’re doing well and how you can optimize your time spent on social media to give your brand and business the most leverage.
Postrank delivers objective, real-time data and analysis on any topic, trend or interest relevant to your business (see image below for summary email I get delivered for my online content activity for this blog).
Google Alerts free service allows you to put in relevant keywords or phrases you’re interested in (set one up for your name, your company, your competitors and industry topic) to get a daily email digest or `as it happens’ update on what’s happening on the web.
LinkedIn Answers is a great place to post questions and answer them. You can often find a wealth of information on what people need help with, what they’re talking about and you can keep tabs on questions you’ve replied to asked and comments you’re receiving.
Viralheat covers every corner of the social web from Google Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, Real-time web, to YouTube and lets you know your social media mentions.
For a list of tools I recommend to run my online business and optimmize my time spent on social media, check out my Biz Tools page under Resources.
How to respond to conversations about your brand
So once you track all these mentions and people talking about you that you may have not even known were happening, how do you respond? In a timely manner would be my first answer. It’s no good being on all these sites but then never checking in to see if someone comment on your blog, or retweeted you.
Respond like a real person, thank people for commenting or sharing, ask people questions that are new in your community, share posts and put your own personal comment or write up before your status update. Point them to the right URL on your website or blog, or to the resource they’re looking for, your contact page or recent post they’re referring to.
It’s all about daily check-ins and my personal tip is to scan, engage and maintain in 20 minute chunks.
Do this mid morning, midday, mid afternoon and evening which are the most popular times for people to be on these sites. Might as well be on them when everyone else is right?
I love using Hootsuite to respond and reply to people asking questions of me on Twitter and to track any mentions of my name or posts. I then check my Facebook page notifications (on Facebook, who needs more emails – switch those off) and make sure I share, comment and like as well as respond to visitors.
I get notifications on WordPress on people leaving lovely comments so go in and accept those during the day and respond. I visit LinkedIn through my iPhone once or twice a day to accept new connections, answer inbox messages and then jump online a few times a week to go through groups and answer comments, questions and contribute to discussions.
How to feed your results into your strategy
If what you’re currently doing is working to build your community, online brand presence and buzz, then keep doing more of it. With the tracking and monitoring you should now have a better understanding of the elements of social media that are benefiting your business. What you now need to do is feed this into your ongoing marketing strategy.
So for example you notice a number of leads/ visitors coming from Twitter through your Google Analytics metrics, and also from LinkedIn but less from Facebook, what do you do?
I would say look to enhance what you’re doing on Twitter and LinkedIn and keep that as a key part of your marketing and engagement strategy. Look at what activities you did that week – which of your tweets were shared the most, which blog posts resonated most, which group discussions received the most comments, and note down what was most popular that you can replicate each week.
Then seek to see if you can improve the reach that your Facebook page is giving you. Run more competitions, post better content, ask questions, post videos or photos and see what is receiving more attention.
Trial Facebook advertising for Sponsored stories for 2-3 weeks, and see if you attract the right likes and if you haven’t already, install a customized landing tab with a clear call to action to allow you to track who’s clicking on what or joining your newsletter. Read Creating a Facebook page that stands out from the crowd for more tips.
I’d like to know your tips and strategies for listening, tracking and monitoring that work for you?