Is it better to listen, or to be listened to? On social media, of course, it’s essential to do both. Following conversations that take place about you, your competitors and your industry sector is a key way of making sure you stay relevant, and communicate in the most effective way. However, making sure audiences themselves tune in to what you have to say is by no means straight forward. Social media users are increasingly wary of direct brand communication, so how can you convince them you’re worth listening to?
E-Listening: Lend Me Your Ears
Social listening is the act of monitoring social networks for conversations that take place surrounding trends, products and services, and it is important for a number of reasons. The most obvious of these is that it enables you to stay adrift of what people are saying about you online and, ideally, to react. Perhaps users are sharing experiences of your brand that are worth relaying on official brand accounts, or that can serve as useful feedback moving forward. Some customers may also be talking about problems which, by reaching out, you can resolve.
Just as important as tracking conversations about your own brand is monitoring those that concern your competitors. Keeping track of how they communicate and engage online audiences allows you to identify your respective strengths and weaknesses, which in turn enables you to identify areas for improvement and, in the meantime, to focus on what sets you apart.
And of course, e-listening is an important way of identifying new opportunities and engaging with new audiences. For example, following specific keywords, hashtags and accounts allows you to identify and connect with audiences that are likely to be interested in what you have to say.
See also: Social Listening: Why Tune In?
Want People to Listen to You? You Need Influence
Being listened to on social media can be considered as having influence; influencing audiences to click through to your content, to like and comment on your posts, and to share what you have to say with their own connections. Brand awareness and the reputation you have built over time play a key role in this. However, the companies that are really making strides on social media are those that are making the most of other sources of influence, besides their own.
Having influence doesn’t necessarily mean having a community of followers that runs into the thousands. This may well be the case for your brand accounts, and the exposure they generate is important. However, influence is all about impacting other people’s choices on a one-to-one basis, which is why every mention of your brand has the potential to grab attention and drive new audiences to connect with your company.
Social media audiences trust user recommendations more than direct brand communication. So while engaging individual users can’t replace the use of official company accounts, it can seriously enhance your online influence and credibility. Your employees, for example, know your company better than anyone else, and are in the best position to spread brand messages on social media. They can share expert insights into particular products and services, answer questions raised by prospects and customers, and talk about what it’s like to be a part of the organization.
The key point here is that as a company, your ability to listen to online conversations has a direct impact on the extent to which audiences will listen to you. That is to say, if you’re in touch with what customers are saying, what potential prospects are looking for, and what competitors are communicating about, you’re in a better position to address these needs; to interact in a way that will speak directly to target audiences, and make them more likely to listen to what you have to say. And if, along the way, you succeed in engaging individuals who can vouch for your company and spread brand messages through their own influence, than that’s even better.