Don’t jump into social media marketing, try listening first

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January 12, 2012

Did you make any kind of strategy before you started in social media? Have you considered what your aims and objectives are? Do you know how to measure them?

If you can say yes to all of these questions you are in a stronger position than most. While I love social media, it pains me to see it just being used for the sake of it – and with no underlying social media strategy.

What can you use social media to accomplish?

Using social media for marketing is an obvious solution, you get to push out your message and perhaps it will “go viral” and you can get lots of new followers/friends.

Social media marketing may be the most “exciting” or “sexy” option, but as more and more companies clamour for the attention of users, it will become increasingly difficult to stand out and be noticed, especially as people begin to experience “social media fatigue”.

Listening is underrated

There are several rich alternatives to focussing on social media marketing. Personally I believe monitoring and listening can be one of the most effective ones to target – if you are alert you can be prepared in a time of crisis, or fortunate enough to jump on the right opportunity to generate positive word of mouth such as Mortons Steakhouse did. Listening to social media can offer you all sorts of insights about how your business or industry is perceived – what are the pains your customers experience with competitors that you can use to your advantage, for example?

It is not too difficult to do – a few columns on Tweetdeck or another monitoring tool with custom searches are all it takes at the most basic level which should be sufficient for a small business. If you want to get elaborate then there are of course monitoring tools which can create all kinds of analytics and graphs for your enjoyment (if you are a bit of a geek like me anyway)

Why not get stuck in?

There is a certain temptation to go head-first into registering on every social network out there – while securing your brand name is important, I would suggest holding fire before getting stuck in. If you are new to a particular network, listening will give you time to absorb its culture and nuances and allow you to fit in more naturally.

Getting an idea about who is influential in your sphere is always worthwhile too – clearly some power users, such as celebrities, will draw influence with them on whatever network they join, but don’t forget that network will have unique early adoptors or power users, and awareness of who they are and how they operate is well worth taking some time to research.


Clearly social media requires active conversation from both parties, and I would never suggest complete silence – it just doesn’t work that way! At the same time, I recommend taking a cautious approach when first entering social media and accustoming yourself by learning how your new platform functions. Just because you are not broadcasting, doesn’t mean that you can’t be gathering useful information to use later.

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