Bradley Yeater

Did you Tweet about the Breaking Bad finale during the week leading up to it? If you did, you were one of 1.2 million who shared their views as the show took its final breaths.

“People like to feel that they share an experience with their friends, commenting on TV on Facebook and Twitter allows viewers to share a unique moment with their community,” said Laurent Maisonnave, founder of Seevibes, and he couldn’t be more right.

Brands that want to succeed with social media marketing need to find ways to achieve the same kind of effect. Knowing how to listen to your audience, find key conversations and be prepared to respond effectively will be key to your success online.

Put your ear to the ground and start listening

Listening first will help you accomplish two goals:

  1.  You will learn about your target audience’s preferences
  2.  You will learn where to find conversations and opportunities for interaction

You know your customers’ preferences offline but what about online? Most people are shy to admit that the personas they display through modern communication channels can be drastically different from the way they present themselves in the real world.

In fact, a Social LIfe and Social Media study showed that one in five U.S. internet users felt less inhibited about lashing out at companies and brands online due to the anonymity of social media.

 Consumers admit they feel more comfortable lashing out online.

When you don’t understand what your target audience wants, you run the risk of creating social media marketing campaigns without the right direction. You need to ask yourself a very crucial question: “Are my social media readers behaving the same way online as they do in person?” My personal experience working on clients’ social media strategies, and several studies, confirm that the answer is an outstanding, “No.” The users interacting with you on social networks can behave in drastically different ways than they do through traditional marketing channels or in physical locations.

 “Are my social media readers behaving the same way online as they do in person?”

To figure out what they’re like online, monitor conversations and listen to what they are saying. Gauge how they speak to each other, pay attention to the frequency and general tone of their posts. Knowing your audience’s unique traits and preferences will better equip you to respond appropriately when the time comes.

Keying into that ‘Now Moment’

Feel like you are missing out on valuable conversations online? Feel like those “now moments” come and go before you can even register them? Truth be told. you’re probably right. Every day, thousands of conversations happen online and many of them fall on silent ears.

So, how do you find these conversations while they are happening and inject your brand in an effective and appropriate way? The most common (and simplest) way to find real-time interactions is to capitalize on a moment when someone mentions or addresses you directly. You’re notified when this happens and it’s easy to respond in a timely manner.

Brands must be prepared with funny messages to capture social marketing "now" moments.

A great example of this was a recent interaction between T-Mobile and an ATT customer. The company was mentioned in a Tweet from a disgruntled AT&T customer, seized the moment with a fast response and ended up with a new customer because of it.

But what do you do when you aren’t mentioned? How would T-Mobile find that “now moment” if it hadn’t been addressed directly?

These tips on listening can really help:

  • Monitor relevant LinkedIn groups, Google+ Communities and hashtags on Twitter
  • Monitor competitors’ social media pages
  • Seek out other sites where conversations might be happening (industry forums and review sites)
  • Set up Google News alerts using your brand and industry keywords

Have a Plan. Don’t succumb to online stage fright.

Customers are turning to social media to communicate with brands more than ever and companies stand to gain a lot if they can respond to customers’ complaints, questions or feedback quickly. Around one-third of consumers are more likely to buy from companies that reply to social outreach within 60 minutes.