Establishing an explicit social media strategy is important for your business or brand’s social marketing tactics to be effective and productive. Incorporating competitive listening as part of that social media strategy is advantageous for several reasons.
First, listening is ongoing. The internet and blogosphere are both always changing and social listening gives your brand a competitive edge.
Furthermore, it helps you understand your customers (the target of your social media strategy!), and also stakeholders, as well as potential target demographics or other types of opportunities for growth.
Evaluate whether the following tips are implicitly or explicitly incorporated into your current social strategy and identify areas for strategic competitive growth in social marketing.
- Tune in to trends. Listen and track search behaviors over time to develop a better understanding of seasonality in your target demographic. Free tools such as Google Trends and Tweet Volume can help you gain an appreciation for what is in important as well as when it matters for the groups you are targeting.
- Follow competitors on Social Media. Set up lists on Twitter, Circles on Google+, even separate lists on Facebook and various blog rings with your competitors’ social media. See what appears to be working for them and do recon with tools like SpyFu.
- Understand where your target audience lives online. Quantcast asserts that the majority of Tumblr users are under 34. If your brand is targeting Baby Boomers for time shares in the Poconos, you probably aren’t listening competitively or strategically if you have Tumblr as part of your social marketing strategy.
- Understand who your influencers are. Ben Straley, CEO of Meteor Solutions, researched and reported that “the type of friends, fans and followers a brand amasses on social media sites matters more than the number. On average, approximately 1% of a site’s audience generates 20% of all its traffic through sharing of the brand’s content or site links with others.” Furthermore, a Forrester research report showed that the minority of users generates around 80% of the impressions and influence posts. Promote your influencers even more. Make them famous.
- Save targeted hashtags for industry specific keywords or events. Watch how people talk about you, your brand, your products and/or services as well as keeping an eye on topics of interest among industry professionals. You never want to be the last to know about anything relevant to your industry or profession.
- Highlight in your social business strategy the need to dial in on “relevancy and reputation management.” You can even use those words. Be sure pertinent employees and contractors understand that is a critical focus and hone in on the other strategic methods for maintaining both aspects. In order to do this, Social Media Examiner recommends starting a virtual task force to share information that is learned. Have conversations around best practices and negatives.
- Use your own Site Analytics in conjunction with consumer keywords. Just because you operate a “pre-owned vehicle” dealership doesn’t mean that most of your target audience is searched “pre-owned vehicle.” A competitive listening strategy would uncover that the majority of searches for that type of item are from consumers typing in “used car,” even if you’d never use the term yourself.
For further solutions, Ken Burbary compiled a wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions that you can peruse to plug in and practice competitive social listening. Remember, understanding various social media strategies is part of your social business strategy, and reading fun and insightful blogs across the social media industry is a legitimate use of your work hours – you’re listening competitively. ~Sara