Social media is a communication channel. A fast-paced multi network discussion forum connected by hashtags and powered by mutual interests. Conversations about your industry, your specific product or service, and business problems you can solve are taking place 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. And what is the most important element of conversation? Listening. Are you talking over your prospects? And missing the most important cues to begin engaging your target customer?
You hear it every day – your customers are on social! It’s true. They are. But so are the customers of everyone else. Knowing who your target buyer is and how they buy is an important first step in creating a successful business strategy – and this step is even more critical when starting to prospect for customers on social networks. For example, on any given day I am engaging in 10-12 new conversations from my social listening efforts. All based on searches of my ideal customer persona.
It is not enough to simply make sure your outbound social streams are steady with useful content. Business best practices are continually evolving. Listening for mentions of you, your business, and phrases related to your areas of expertise are basic must-do’s. But just as important as sharing content and monitoring for mentions, so is proactive engagement with ideal prospects.
Understand the Purpose and Value of Social Listening
Social listening is the process of identifying, prioritizing, and responding to what is being said about a brand, individual, product, or service online. Sometimes called social media monitoring, keeping a close watch on conversations directly mentioning you or in and around your areas of interest is an integral part of social business success.
Know Your Typical Customer and Bring Them to Life
Who is your ideal customer? You may think you know – but until you audit past wins and losses you are really just guessing. Customer personas are a necessary business asset and most definitely not a checklist item to create, and then shelve. Customer personas are as dynamic as the humans they represent and must be given ongoing attention to provide business value.
Create your ideal customer persona in 3 easy steps:
- Review at least 5 past wins and losses.
Take note of company size, the job title of the decision maker, the length of the buying cycle, and when and where the first conversation started.
- Call 3 current customers.
Solicit candid feedback about their buying experience, how they perceive your brand, what social networks do they use most frequently for business and are you adequately solving their business problems. Use this information to hone your customer persona.
- Use a tool like Personapp.io to create a visual representation of your ideal customer.
Give your persona a fun name that relates to your business. For example, at Pipeliner CRM one of our ideal customer personas is named Peter Pipeliner. Giving a persona a human name makes them more relatable for your team and encourages peer to peer communication. It also helps keep teams focused on what to look for.
Once you have finalized your ideal customer persona and you know what social networks to focus on, identifying buying signals from new prospects is a whole lot easier. Now all you need to do is listen, listen, and then listen some more.
Monitor Important Conversations With a Social CRM
Once you have identified a prospect on social, it is important to keep an eye on the conversations they are having online – who are they having them with and what are they talking about. Think of it like walking in your customer’s footprints.
The Next Level
An advanced step is to also segment contacts with the aid Twitter lists – private or public. Using productivity enablement tools like IFTTT and Zapier allows you to collate conversations and push the data into social media management tools like HootSuite for engagement and further analysis.
Always be on the lookout for opportunities to engage and educate on social networks. Creating an omni-present awareness and staying top of mind with prospects is a guaranteed way to create an emotional tie to you and your product or service. Being likable builds rapport and sharing useful information solidifies your status as a trusted advisor.
Don’t Be A Slave to Notifications
It takes a clever assortment of tools to manage our lives – personally and professionally. But don’t be a slave to beeps and dings. Take time to customize the alerts in all the tools you use. And more strategically – on all your mobile devices. Make sure the most important alerts surface clearly. And the less important notifications are available but not necessarily flashing and fighting for your attention.
Make reviewing your important contacts social activity a priority step in your daily workflow. Social CRM’s are designed to streamline this task and make it effortless for you to engage with contacts in real-time.
Engage at the Right Time (Not JUST in Real Time)
There’s a lot of pressure to reply to social messages immediately. But that’s not always practical or advisable. Well-researched and personalized responses are much better received than superfast, flippant replies. Use the data available in your social CRM to add context and value to your social conversations. If you’ve had a previous conversation, acknowledge that fact with a “Great to hear from you again”! Subtle comments create warm fuzzy reactions and make you and your brand memorable.
Your Goal: Find the Signal, Not the Static
The goal of successful social listening is filtering out the echoes and efficiently getting to the signal — quickly identifying individuals and conversations that are important to you. Social listening is an essential part of a strong business strategy and using a social CRM makes this necessary task a profitable and scalable activity.
Leveraging the features of a social CRM and consistently using social listening techniques will pay off with stronger and more genuine relationships, as well as trust and confidence in you and your organization. The return on investment for this expenditure of your time and energy will be evident — those in your network will remember …. when they are ready to buy.