Listen Before You Tweet

By Holly Langdon, Cramer-Krasselt,
Every 10 seconds, someone in America proposes a pointless social media tactic. Okay, I just made that up. But it sure feels that way.
The Internet contains a graveyard of one-way conversations that were initiated by enthusiastic professionals who jumped on the social media band wagon and began executing tactics before really thinking it through.
I’ve seen it happen. I’m sure you have too. Consider those ubiquitous corporate blogs that attract few visitors and fewer comments. (Spam doesn’t count). With the exception of a few good ones – Google’s springs to mind – not many publically traded companies have the guts to use their blog like a real social medium. Many update their blogs too infrequently and with self-serving corporate propaganda. Count on most to die eventually, their good intentions laid to rest among orphaned Facebook pages and fanless Tweets.
I’m not trashing the concept of social marketing. There’s no denying that the world is increasingly empowered by social media. But we can’t let tactics dictate strategy. The mere existence of a corporate blog, Twitter feed or Facebook fan page doesn’t make it a success. And if not done well, it can actually do more harm than good.
As communicators, we are naturally attracted to new methods of communication. Our education and training focused mostly on developing messages and delivering them well, whether verbally or non-verbally. But social media isn’t just a new method of delivering messages. It’s a new method of listening to your audiences. And listening is key. The best time and place to reach your audiences is when your brand or product is on their minds. Listen first. Then introduce yourself as a company representative and join the conversation.
Various tools and services are available to help you actively listen. At Cramer-Krasselt, for example, we’ve developed a web monitoring tool that acts like an omnipresent fly on the wall to monitor for mentions of our clients. The tool uses existing technologies to inform us promptly when, where and how the client is discussed so that we can react accordingly. In some cases, we may learn that our client isn’t being discussed at all. In other cases, the conversation may help spark a new product idea or make us aware of a customer service issue. What we learn will help us develop our strategy and identify appropriate tactics.
As communicators, we need to actively engage in the mindful use of social media tactics. So before you propose a corporate Twitter account, stop and listen. Are you having a positive impact on existing conversations initiated by your audience?


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