Listen Up!

The best social media practitioners do a lot more than talk

So you’ve published a blog post, then shared the link on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There you have it, social media strategy!

No? OK, then how about you respond to comments and questions on your feeds, surely that’s what makes a social media strategy?

Not enough? OK, here’s another idea: you produce engaging content, like live video, for native posts on the channels. They love that, and so do your customers!

Of course all these activities are vital parts of any brand’s social strategy. But we’re missing one of the most important pieces: listening.

The best social media practitioners know there’s more to their craft than distribution and promotion. They also monitor the web for and engage in conversations about relevant topics. Note, the engage part is important. If you’re not doing that, you’re merely monitoring.

There are many ways you can use social listening to your advantage.

Customer care

This one is the most obvious and most critical. Customer experience experts know that social media is what makes complaints spread like wildfire. If a customer has something positive to say about you, they might only share it with a friend over coffee. But if what they have to say is negative, rest assured they’ll do it on social. Global public opinion about you can change in an instant (just ask United Airlines). You have to be present, on your channels, to hear and respond to what your customers are saying about your brand, products and services. If you’re paying attention, you can address customer complaints, make bad situations better and turn customer experience losses into wins.

Brand Mentions

You definitely want to know what’s being said about you by people in addition to customers who communicate directly with you for answers. It’s critical to remember that many mentions of your brand occur without you specifically being tagged. Sprout Social found that such untagged mentions comprise 90% of all brand mentions. So you have to keep your eyes peeled for these. You can manually search for your brand or use a listening tool, more on that below. Note that many mentions are misspelled, so be sure to account for multiple variations on your actual brand name, and do the same for product names and high profile people in the company.

Competitor Mentions

By monitoring what’s being said about your competitors, you can hear what they’re doing right and what they’re doing wrong. You can learn which of their strategies, tactics and behaviors should be emulated and which should be avoided. Like mentions of your own assets, you want to take into account common misspellings. Who knows, you might even find opportunities to swoop in and grab a customer or two.


Just like you’re keeping an eye out for mentions of your brand or your competitors, you want to be on the lookout for conversations relevant to your industry. These are great opportunities to demonstrate subject matter expertise, spot trends, find new product, feature or service opportunities, or even insert your solution as the winning answer to a problem or question. Hashtags are good things to look out for on certain channels, but they’ll reveal only a fraction of all the opportunities. Start with the same list of keywords that fit into your SEO and PPC efforts.

Connecting with Influencers

Pay attention not only to what’s being said, but who’s saying it. The conversations you find might include respected authorities with large followings. These are the types of people that potential customers listen to when contemplating a purchase, so you definitely want to build relationships with them. When you find these people already talking about you, it’s that much easier to form connections with them.

So those are a few ideas to get you thinking about how to do more than talk on your social media channels. In addition, you’ll want to pay attention to any relevant websites or blogs where conversations take place in the comments section, and forums where customers, competitors and influencers might be found.

Last, what kinds of tools can you use to expedite and automate this strategy? Well, there are tons. There is, of course, the aforementioned Sprout Social. There’s also a tool called, of all things, Mention. There are Hootsuite, BuzzSumo and Google Alerts. San Diego AMA’s Karisa Macias covered a few more in a recap of a 2014 event on Breaking Through Social Media Clutter.

A great way to get a comprehensive understanding of the latest and best social media strategies and tools is to attend San Diego AMA’s next signature event, Social Media Marketing: The Power of Social Strategy in a Digital World. If you can get a ticket (this one will sell out), you’ll hear the experts at one of San Diego’s most respected brands, Sharp Healthcare, explain how they use social media to engage with customers and deliver their brand promise online. Join us May 22, 8:00 AM, at the Sharp HealthCare corporate offices, 8695 Spectrum Center Boulevard, San Diego.

About Bill

Bill is VP, Content at AMA San Diego. He is a member of the sales team at Neil Patel Digital. He enjoys coffee, CrossFit, golf, traveling, current events and post-apocalyptic fiction. Find him on Twitter: @BillWinnSD