Social media is a force in today’s business world.
It can drive a movement, change a national dialogue, or alter the direction of organizational policy.
If you want to be successful in nearly any undertaking today, you need to be listening…or you run the risk of being blindsided.
You need to be monitoring the conversation.
Define an Objective
It’s not good enough to do it just because everyone else is.
You need to clarify what you want to accomplish with the information you can access through monitoring social media. Having a goal in mind will make your efforts more effective in the end.
Decide Where & What to Monitor
Think of social media as one large gathering of people, with smaller groups engaged in different stimulating conversations. Find out where your industry thought leaders, current paying customers and potential customers hang out, digitally speaking, and make sure you join that party.
Then choose your keywords. At a minimum, track your company name, brand and product names, names of key executives, competitor names and products, industry keywords, and your most recent marketing efforts.
There’s a lot of noise out there, so think triage. Assess and prioritize all the social messages that pass your view and focus on which is most important. You may want to separate those messages by product, brand or type of message.
Develop a Plan
Actually, you need more than one: a crisis management plan…and a plan for engagement in more routine situations. Decide how to react to both someone raving about your product and irate customers or bloggers. Once you have the plans, you can arrange for the right resources to implement them and the right person to take the lead in responding to each situation.
Listen First, Then Build Relationships
Don’t just jump in and start plugging your product. Listen and learn how the members of the conversation interact so you can speak their language. Then identify influencers in your business, figure out who is driving the conversation, and build a relationship with those people. Take the time to understand their viewpoints before you ever pitch anything.
Select Tools that Match your Strategy
Select a monitoring tool that fits with the research needs defined by the purposes you’ve already identified. Once you know where you’re heading and why, you’ll be able to choose the right combination of tools to help you accomplish your objectives.
Maya Szydlowski is the community manager for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation’s leader in VA loans and source for news in the military community.
Image Credit: onlinerepmanagement