Did you know listening is the most effective communication skill? If you want to engage users in social media, you need to become a good listener. Listening is basically the act of identifying social media conversations around topics relevant to your business. These might be social discussions started by customers, potential customers, or even competitors. They may be industry-related conversations inside blogs and discussion groups, or posts made on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
So why is listening to these conversations so important for your business success? Here are several key reasons.
- To identify potential customers currently active in social media. This includes individuals who make up your ideal prospects and who are publically talking about their interests, needs, wants and problems they need solved.
- To identify influencers in your industry. They could be potential partners, competitors, or just influencers discussing your industry within social media. Find those influencers by listening so you can engage with them and offer your knowledge and expertise, as well as promote them to your communities. That’s right. I just said you might be promoting competitors (and other influencers) to your own community. That probably sounds counterproductive but remember, this is the inside-out, upside-down way of marketing. This is also why you need to know your niche. Because once you do, you really won’t have any true competitors and you’ll be able to pull it off.
- To identify and reward happy customers. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon have customers talking about positive experiences they’ve had with your brand online, and you’ll want to reward them. It’s important to let them know that, (1) you heard them and (2) you appreciate their business. A win for your happy customers is when you acknowledge them and say thanks for the business.
- To identify content to curate and share with your community. Most influencers use social media to promote their original content to their followers. If you recall, the primary role in social media is to be a creator, someone who creates social media content. Listening will enable you to find relevant content from other people that would be useful to your followers. You then will be able to act as a curator and share this content to your community.
- To identify and shift unhappy customers into happy customers. You’ll be able to find unhappy customers through listening to their conversations and complaints. You can then address their issues by taking the conversation offline. You can apply the process I outlined in the Reputation Management section that deals with turning negative experiences into positive ones.