Social Media Marketing: The Value of Listening to Your Audience

So, you have a new company, with a shiny, new, SEO-rich Web site, and you are ready to embark on the social media journey of your life. STOP! Before you spend copious man-hours, perfecting every social media profile you can find, there is one crucial step that is so often overlooked in social media marketing: social listening!

Listening to your audience before you select your main social media platforms will actually help narrow your selection!

What is Social Listening?

Just because you are not yet on social media, doesn’t mean people on social media are not talking about your brand. Social listening, also known as social media listening or social media monitoring, is the process of filtering through Internet noise to find out what is already being said about your company.

How to Listen to Your Audience

There are a number of free tools available for brands looking to listen to their audience. Here are a few to get you started:
Google Alerts: Google Alerts sends regular updates to your email, regarding the latest, relevant Google search results on inputted keywords.
Social Mention: Social Mention offers information sourced from both search engines and social media sites.
Addict-o-matic: Addict-o-matic will generate a full dashboard of keyword analytics across multiple platforms including both search engines and social media.

How to Evaluate What You Hear

Pay attention to the sentiment of the information you gather. Are people discussing your brand in a positive, neutral, or negative tone? Some social listening tools, like Social Mention, will automatically report a sentiment ranking for you. Once you have organized your feedback, you can make a plan for positive sentiment promotion or negative sentiment improvement.

How to Join the Discussion

In addition to audience sentiment, social listening will show you where most of your current audience is having discussions—thus, which social media platform holds the most success potential for your brand. Are most of your consumers tweeting or posting to Facebook? Join them there first, and then expand your social media empire!
Social listening is a great tool when getting started on social media, but it is worth maintaining even after you are socially established. You may discover a surge of new discussions on a different platform, or an increase in search engine queries. Listen to your audience: they will tell you want they want!

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