Social Media Listening: Part 3 Formulating a listening strategy and identifying influencers

There are a few things you need to consider when formulating your social media listening campaign. The objectives for the social media campaign should be in line with the objectives of the organization, otherwise the social campaign will be a waste.  This can be achieved by identifying the business objectives then evaluating how social media can contribute to accomplishing these goals.  A business-aligned social media strategy helps to justify the business’ case for investing in the right social media monitoring and engagement tool that is critical to its success.

There are a multitude of social media listening tools out there, both free and paid.  These tools allow you to monitor everything from your blog and website traffic to what is being said about your company on Twitter.  Although these tools exist, a successful listening strategy is largely dependent upon human involvement and constant tracking of new keywords as it relates to your business. Check out Chris Brogan’s 11 step process for formulating a successful listening strategy (http://www.chrisbrogan.com/grow-bigger-ears-in-10-minutes/).

As I said before, monitoring the conversations being had about your business is dependent on successful keyword searches on Twitter tracking tools.  You have to think about the natural conversations people are having about a topic and not just search what you would want them to search (when my dad searches for conversations being had about his trucking company, he might search something like “I can’t stand waiting around for the paper shipment every day,” instead of searching for an obvious few keywords like, “where can I get a delivery company with fast shipping.” You have to remember how people talk conversationally because that’s how they are going to talk on social media to their followers.

Like I talked about in part one of this blog series on social media listening, it is important to identify social media influencers in your industry.  This page from Social Media Examiner (http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/industry-influencers/) provides a 4 step process for compiling a list of influencers within your area of interest.

  1. Do a Google search for the industry/field you’re interested in.  Then read the blogs and other information that result from these searches.  If you read enough, you’ll most likely start to stumble across some of the same names throughout different publications.
  2. Make a spreadsheet of these people’s names and follow them on Twitter.  Also type in keywords on Twitter to find other people in the industry who have a lot of followers.  This will provide a beginning list for influencers in your specific area of interest.
  3. Once you are following these people, add them to a Twitter “list.”  This will create an organized area where Tweets from only your top influencers will appear, so you can keep them separate from the Tweets being sent out by the rest of the people you are following.  I did this with all the social media related Twitter accounts I’m following.  It allows me to keep them separate from the Tweets being sent out from my friends and people in the sports world that I’m following.
  4. Finally, you’ll want to build relationships with the influencers on your Twitter list.  This can be done by promoting their content, creating content for them, sending them referrals, and much more.  As your relationship with them grows, you will build credibility and trust with your influencers.  Remember to connect with your influencers on other platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook pages, blogs, etc.) to increase your ability to engage with them.

If you don’t feel like doing finding influencers by yourself there are a number of tools out there to help you identify these people.  Here is a list of 30 free tools that can help: http://colderice.com/how-to-find-the-influencers-in-social-media-for-your-product-or-brand/.

Searching for areas of interest on sites that measure social media influence can also return some helpful results.  Sites like Klout and Kred attempt to measure a person’s social media influence.  Although these tools help give you an idea of a person’s influence, it doesn’t paint the whole picture.  So when you see someone with a Klout score of 60, don’t just assume they are an influencer in your field.  Do some research and see what kind of following they actually have on different social platforms.  Remember there are elements of a person’s influence that probably can’t be measured.  It’s like a credit score.  It can be a useful tool to help give creditors an idea of your ability to pay back money, but it isn’t necessarily absolute.  For example, I know someone who pays for everything in cash.  He doesn’t have a credit score to speak of so it is hard for him to do things that require a good credit rating.  Does his lack of credit score mean he doesn’t have a lot of money or that he doesn’t pay people back?  No.  He is more than capable of repaying just about any financial obligation, but from the outside his lack of a credit score makes it look like he wouldn’t be a good candidate to loan money to.  Use social media influence scores as a starting point for your research, not the validation for a person’s social media activity.

As I’ve explained throughout this blog series, social media listening is a critical step for establishing a successful social media campaign.  It allows you to become more in touch with everyone in your business environment as well as the influencers in your field.  This expanded network will help your company develop increased brand loyalty and create a personal, 2-way relationship with your customers.

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