It never ceases to amaze me how so many organizations still remain outside of the social media loop. And while most senior managers readily acknowledge the importance of digital engagement, many still will throw up their hands and respond with a litany of predictable objections and roadblocks when pressed on why their organization is still on the outside or failing to fully leverage social media’s potential.
But whatever the reasons invoked for not actively engaging in the conversations that social media allows with clients and audiences, there is no reason for an organization not to take the first step in social media engagement: listening.
Unlike full blown social media engagement where an organization openly and transparently shares content, responds to comments and queries, and actually becomes part of a community, listening is just the first step in successful social media engagement.
As a general principle of social engagement, listening uncovers the nature of the conversations within a particular community.
Think of it this way: Just as you would not arrive at a cocktail party unannounced and elbow your way into a conversation, listening within a social network allows you to determine how best to ease into conversations in a way that’s relevant to the community.
That simple step can be the difference between a campaign or product launch with digital sizzle, or one that fizzles.
Whether it’s from a business perspective, or that of a not-for-profit advocacy organization, listening allows you to determine who the influencers are in a given community and what it is that makes them most relevant.
Listening also allows you to determine what content is most relevant, what it is that makes it sharable, and on what platforms it is likely to be shared.
Most importantly, listening allows you to hear what people are saying about you, your brand or your issues.
There are a number of social media monitoring tools available, and these range from simple listening to advanced brand and reputation management platforms.
The point is that with the ever-accelerating growth of social networking and social media, organizations cannot afford to wait on the sidelines. Whether the problem is figuring out the return on investment of social media, or uncertainty about its relevance within your marketplace; there is only one way to answer those concerns, and that’s by listening.
Take that first step, listen to the conversations, identify the online communities most relevant to your organization, identify who the movers and shakers are and why. Most of all, listen to what is being said about you in those communities. Whether your organization or brand is creating a buzz or total silence, you need to know and understand why. That’s the first step in either leveraging a positive vibe, or fixing a problem.