I've talked before about the first step in launching any social media campaign is listening. And I had the delightful opportunity to sit in on a real, live session by one of the web's premier marketers, John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing. He gave oodles of rich advice and tips, both on general marketing and on social media interactions. My favorite quote from his social media talk?
"You can get tremendous value without saying a thing."
So very true! You don't have to dive headlong into social media and Twitter about what you had for lunch. In fact, please don't. Nobody really cares. Take some time to listen first without the pressure of being interesting and delivering value. Plus, any campaign should start with a hefty amount of research in order to determine the best strategy for building conversation and relationships.
And for goodness' sake, as your momma told you, listen before you speak.
What are you listening for? Good question. Here is are some questions you should seek to answer before settling on a strategy:
- Where is your brand most often mentioned--blogs, Twitter, Facebook, forums, podcasts?
- What is the sentiment of your brand's mentions?
- Where are your competitors most often mentioned? What is the sentiment?
- Where are your industry's keywords most often mentioned?
- Where are the discussions about industry trends and topics taking place?
- Who are the key contributors to those discussions on both sides of the argument?
- What are the most popular topics in your industry? Who is discussing them, where and how?
- What is the connection between online discussion and real-life events? What real-life industry events do the passionate contributors attend?
Now that you're armed with curiosity and an Excel spreadsheet (the social media manager's favorite tool), invest in each of these free tools:
- Google Alerts for tracking mentions of your brand, your competitors' brands, industry keywords
Google Reader for establishing one nice, easy location to house all the feeds created with Google, blogs and Twitter alerts
- TwitterSearch or, when it's fully rolled out, Google's awesome real-time update search for tracking mentions of your brand, competitors' brands, industry keywords
- BoardTracker for monitoring forum discussion
- Backtype for monitoring comments