Never before have we had so many opportunities to have our voices heard. Never before have we had a way to reach more eyes and ears – to have more people listen to what we have to say (Just another reason why you need to write well and proofread!). But with all the tweeting, posting, and blogging, if we’re all doing the talking, who’s doing the listening?
Speaking is only half of communication. The other half – the more important half – is listening.
Sure, we listen. We’re on the phone, one ear tuned to what the other person is saying, the other focusing on the laptop in front of us, or the tv, or the kids. We’re blogging and posting and tweeting and making sure we reach as many people as possible, but how much time do you spend on social channels just reading – really listening – to what others are saying? If you’re not spending an equal amount of time truly listening, you’re missing out on knowing what your target audience thinks, wants and truly needs.
Stop talking. Start Listening. Here’s How:
- Log into your twitter account and… don’t write a single tweet. Spend time just reading. What are people saying? What topics are they talking and writing about? Who are they retweeting? What blog topics are getting the most comments? Why?
- Invest in a social media analytics tool (I like Sprout Social – and no they don’t pay me to say so), and use it. Sprout’s dashboard lets you see who’s mentioned you, which of the folks you follow don’t follow you back, who’s retweeted you, and which of them rarely tweet, if at all.
- Spend about 20 minutes a week “cleaning” your accounts. Delete those who haven’t offered any value in terms of education or information for over a month. Reconsider following those who follow you and are active in their social space. Does your bio still make sense?
- If you’re planning a business trip, take a few minutes to search for any brands or people who follow you (and whom you follow) in that area, and invite them to join you for a cup of coffee. It’s one thing to engage with someone through social channels, but meeting face to face will allow you to share thoughts, and get to know one another on a deeper level. You may find synergies in your respective areas of expertise that could lead to new business down the road.
- Respond. Commenting, retweeting and mentioning others in social shows that you are listening, that you’re engaged in what they have to say, and that you understand communication is a two way street. If you’re constantly doing the talking, eventually people will get tired of listening.
The benefits of social listening are many: you’ll find topics about which to blog, you’ll learn about what’s trending in your industry, you’ll discover new thought leaders, and gain new followers, just to name a few.
Your turn: What’s your favorite way to listen, socially? Tell me how it’s worked for you!