Are You Listening?
Our first guest blogger post! Beth Schillaci, owner of Village Works, who's business focus is providing strategy, execution and training for social networking, has been my go to gal as JPD has entered into the world of social media marketing. Beth keeps her own blog Marketing Roadhouse.
When it comes to social media, I feel like you have one of three choices to make:
1. Put your head in the sand and keep thinking social media will go away.
2. Begin the journey to integrate social media into your marketing plan and engage.
3. Sit on the sidelines, but be an active listener.
Today I'm going to talk about option 3 and more specifically the active listening part. Social media is not the right approach for every company due to a number of reasons including lack of resources. It may also be because of a fear of the two-way conversation. I totally understand that, social media requires a major shift in company culture and thinking, as well as a perceived loss of control of your marketing message. Lean in close now, and I'll tell you the secret that you need to know, just because you are not talking to people through social media doesn't mean they aren't talking about you.
That's right, even if you don't want to be involved in the conversation, the conversation still exists and could very well include you, your competition and your industry. Wouldn't you want to know what public perception of your company and product is? Who wouldn't want free market research? I see it every day on Twitter and specifically in Frederick, people talking about local businesses in both positive and negative light who have no clue it is taking place. Imagine if you were able to listen in on those conversations and getting your own focus group.
The good news is you can easily tap into these conversations and leverage them to your advantage. You can use free tools such as Google Alerts and Twitter Search, or more sophisticated paid services. By creating your listening post, you can take a pulse on what the public is feeling and even saying. You can use this information to improve customer service, alter your marketing material, gain a competitive advantage and even learn how to improve your product or service. This information could provide you with information into your strengths and weaknesses.
You may find from just listening (which is the first step in any social media strategy) that you are ready to jump into social media. You may have found some great opportunities to take advantage of by engaging champions of your brand as well as some threats to your brand that you had no idea existed. I feel strongly that knowing where you stand with your audience is the most important thing, even if you have some work to do to improve your position.
If you aren't quite ready to take the journey into social media marketing, take the first step by becoming a good listener.