Smart Social Media Listening Strategies

Smart Social Media Listening Strategies

Social media has changed the way business is done. Small business owners have access to a level of research and business intelligence that we never had access to before. In the past, this type of information was only available to enterprise-level companies that could afford to hire costly research specialists and quite honestly by the time you received the information it was outdated.

By applying a few smart social media strategies and using social media tools you can learn how to listen online, figure out where your market is online, what they are talking about, and what they need, then position yourself to be found by the exact people and organizations that you want to connect with. Keep reading and I will share how.

Social Media Listening

The principles of business have not changed, but where it happens has changed… Business is happening on social media and it has been around for awhile now, every business needs to be active on social media, that is no longer an option.

One issue that comes up often for my clients is the deafening collective noise on social media, they are overwhelmed by the amount of pointless chatter and annoyed by the constant sales broadcasting. By the time they find their way to me, they cannot see the value of investing their resources and time on this thing called social media.

Yes it’s noisy, yes, everyone is flying fast and attention spans are at an all-time low so if you are only broadcasting on social media you are missing the real value. You will not be heard. Our approach is a bit different… we focus on the most overlooked social media skill, social media listening… and we teach our clients how to do this because conversations change and it must be done every day.

What conversations are happening? Who is talking to who? What solutions do your potential clients need? How can you help? These are all important questions to ask as you being to apply this new approach. It actually begins outside of social media.

Know Your Target Audience

Image of Glasses and Eye Chart - smart social media strategiesClarity is the key to setting up effective listening channels. Figure out who you want to listen to, the best way to do this is to build a client persona, this will help you in so many aspects of a business. Before you start to do this online, spend some time mapping out the following

  • Who do you want to connect with and WHY?
  • Where they are, is it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, SnapChat? That is where you will want to be spending your time. Don’t like that platform, learn it, you need to be where they are.
  • Are they past clients you want to reconnect with, prospects, media, strategic partners, vendors?
  • What do you know about them? Think peripherally, beyond business… where do they travel? Eat? Shop? what are their Likes? Dislikes? What are they reading, listening to, watching?  You may be shaking your head about now thinking how am I going to know this…. simply find one person that would be a great prospect and check them out on social media, see what they are up to. If this is challenging, think of the best clients you have worked with and write down why they were your favorites. You can also flip that strategy and do the same for the worst client, knowing what you don’t want is equally important.
  • Give them a name…. YES a name. Really get to know this person they will be your guide to find more people like them by listening on social media.
  • You may need more than one persona based on your business goals. Start with one, get the process down and then it will be easier to replicate. This is research.

Gather all of this information in one place so it will be easy to transfer to a social media management tool. Keep it simple, this is hard to do and complicating the process will keep you from completing the task at hand.

Include Your Team

This is so much more than social media… it is a communication foundation that allows you to engage regularly with your network. I have had clients tell me that they feel like they have a periscope to zero in on exactly what and who they need to know.

When done well social media takes time and thought, it likely requires more than one person for several reasons. Once built, it that will allow you to engage regularly with your network… Bring your team into the process, Your team can help with so much more than the actual work.  will need help and different perspectives. Here are a few steps to start the process:

  1. There are tasks to do – some can be successfully delegated and others carry the voice of the business. As with anything else, there are roles and responsibilities that only you can do in your business. It is no different on social media.
  2. Your team is working with your network too, they have different relationships and a different perspective. Think about how valuable it can be for your team member to be representing your business in a more public way. This can be in the form of customer service, helping to connect with individuals you might never otherwise meet, watching what other companies in your vertical are doing. These are only a few examples, there are many ways to use social media to empower your team to be your biggest advocate and make everyone feel like they are making a valuable contribution through the process.
  3. Social Media Listening helps you and your team make more informed decisions. before you decide to launch the next big thing… see if your market wants it. Sometimes the ROI of social media is heading off a bad business decision.

Create Your Social Media Toolbox

Social media management tools are mandatory, without using tools to zero in on conversations you will quickly become frustrated. Our current favorite tool is SmarterQueue (click the link to give it a try for free for 30 days), but there are many others. When selecting a social media management tool, look for is the ability to listen, track, build custom streams and ways to share easily share your content and curate the content of the people you want to connect with.

Follow the instructions in SmarterQueue’s help section for connecting your social media accounts (the Business plan allows for up to 10 accounts). Once that is done follow the set-up instructions, they have robust educational tools and webinars. Below is a quick overview of how we use SmarterQueue and why.

There are four overall components of SmarterQueue:

  1. Sources: This is where you can pull live social media streams of the people/companies you want to connect with. Organize your sources so they make sense to you and your team. Listen, engage, and share their content.
  2. Content: This is where you build out your content. For example, every blog post can be broken down into 5 or 10 social media posts. Build a content library that repurposes your content and tells different stories by using different hashtags, social media posts, images/videos/GIFs. Every asset you create can be used in different ways allowing you to spend less time creating and more time building your business.
  3. Search/Research: You can easily search the social accounts of other people/companies, search for hashtags to follow and find new conversations, pull in Twitter lists to keep tabs on what your Twitter communities are up to. At any time you can create a new source right from the search stream and keep adding new content to your queue as you are researching.
  4. Analytics: The analytics component built into SmarterQueue is brilliant. There is so much value in this element, here I will share a few examples: (a) you can analyze the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram social accounts of someone else… see what hashtags they are using, best times to post based on their audience engagement, and more; (b) resharing your best posts – SmarterQueue analyses your posts and tells you which ones stand out, you can reshare these or even put some money behind them with a social ad.

The ultimate goal is to create a semi-automatic process that allows you streamline the time and resource to dedicate to social media by automating the mundane and using your valuable time and resource to listen, engage, and connect. Not only is it a better use of time, it is more fun too.

Listen to the Streams

Now that you have all of the information in front of you, here is how to listen to the streams.

Look: For hashtags, keywords, other people to follow, events they are attending, what they are reading, listening to, watching, likes and dislikes, etc.

List: Start a list of everything that catches your eye and start tracking these things too. Do not overwhelm yourself, just a few at a time.

Connect: Engage, share other people’s content, tell them why you liked it. Say hi.

Build Relationships: Keep it going, come back and engage on a regular basis.

Tweak: This is all based on conversations, trends, events, it will change. Tweak your Social PR Intelligence Dashboard based on your business goals, your conversations, the people you want to connect with, events you will attend. It can be anything. Reverse engineer your strategy… Identify your end goal, your business objectives. Then work backward and align your social strategy with your business strategy. #thisstuffworks

Build Your Own Virtual Networking Event

Remember do not sell. Use these tools and strategies to build relationships. Imagine that you are walking into a business event with 1000 attendees, you would not expect to connect with every person in the room. You would not put your business card in every hand. Instead, you might see who is in the room, make a note of who you would really like to connect with, and then either look for a common connection or simply say hello and see where it goes. Social media is exactly the same, but you can meet people from all over the world in a few minutes.

How will you apply these strategies? Please post below I want to know.


Donna Cravotta

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  1. Kathleen Day

    Hi Donna – really appreciate this article! I am going to “look at listening” – what a concept!

    • Donna

      Thanks Kathleen! Please be sure to let me know how it goes.

  2. Dan

    Hi Donna,
    Great point about social media being like a networking event. You have to spend your time wisely, connecting with the right people in a meaningful way, but also establishing initial contacts with others who could potentially lead to a good contact down the road.

    • Donna

      Hi Dan – so sorry this comment slipped through the cracks I am just seeing it now. Yes you can decide who you want to connect with and why. Interacting in that way makes it small and personal. Thanks for the comment!



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