Social Media: It’s a virtual party. Are you invited?

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Of course you are invited, but let’s get one thing out in the open. Social media is not about advertising, nor is it about being that pushy sales guy that is constantly talking about how awesome their products or services are. Social media is about building relationships with those individuals that we care to listen to. 

Don’t be that guy (or girl).
We’ve all been to parties before and have had the pleasure of engaging in small talk with numerous individuals that we’ve never spoken to before. Let’s think about those conversations that we’ve had for a moment. I’m sure we’ve all talked to that one person who never stops talking about themselves, and before you know it, you’ve heard their whole life story and are quickly searching for the nearest person who would be your way out of the conversation. Likewise, I’m sure we’ve also had those meaningful conversations with people where you swap stories about things that you are interested in. The conversation keeps going and the more you talk to this person, the more you realize how much you have in common.

Like the party, social media is a very similar virtual concept. Your followers don’t want to listen to the companies that “hog” the conversation and just talk about themselves. If your company does, you run the risk of potentially turning off your followers and being labeled as too “sales-y”.

Don’t monitor— listen. Listen often.
Dave Kerpen, author of Likeable Social Media, says that many people use the word monitoring and listening interchangeably, but both have very different meanings. Monitoring has a bit of a creep factor to it, whereas listening has a human process behind it. Think about it. Would you rather have a company say, “I’m going to monitor you.” Or “I’m going to listen to you.” You don’t want to just monitor someone. It’s like you’re a stalker. You want to listen to people. Listen and join in on the conversation. Don’t try and sell. It’s about having a conversation with people, much like you would at a party.

Invest in the right tools.
How do you listen and join in on the conversation? Sure, you follow people, but if your feeds and streams are like ours, they change every minute with hundreds of updates. Your company will need a tool that will allow you to filter out the noise and hone in on what you are really interested in listening to. Luckily for us, Hubspot, our all-in-one marketing software, has recently rolled out social monitoring, a tool that allows you to search for keywords or phrases, listen, and join in on the conversation. If you aren’t a current Hubspot user, that’s okay. There are other tools out there that will allow you to do some of the same things for almost free. Google Alerts and the Twitter and Facebook search are a few of the free options. Hubspot, Vocus, and Radian6 are more advanced and require a monthly service fee.

You’re listening now, right?
So now that you are listening, it’s time to put your social media handles and pages to good use. Start listening for things that interest your company. For example, my in-laws recently purchased a refrigerator from Sears. When they had it delivered and set up, after 24 hours, it stopped working. Frustrated, they called the Sears Customer Service line and explained their situation to the company. The rep on the other line said that they could get another one, but it’s backordered and would take 6 weeks to deliver. 6 weeks? Are they serious? Who could be without a refrigerator for 6 weeks? Even more frustrating, the CS rep offered no other solutions or alternatives. Instead, they got the good old fashion, “Is there anything else I can help you with?” scripted line. Um… NO!

Lucky for them and my own social media savviness, I took to social media and vented their frustration. The tweet went like this, “Wow @Sears! You deliver a broken fridge that is brand new & say you can’t replace it til end of Oct? No other solution offered? Lost our biz!”

Within minutes, I had an alert from Sears that simply stated, “@boldthink Sorry for the fridge trouble. We can help you! Please DM us your contact information and we will call you. Thanks-Mike cc:@Sears”

I felt better already and so did my in-laws! Someone was actually listening! Better yet, there was a name tied to it. I sent a DM with my in-laws phone number and they had a brand new fridge delivered the next day. It was a different model, but an alternative solution that was just as good.

You’ve got unlimited knowledge in your hands.
There is so much yet to learn about the reach and power of social media. Billions of users use social media each year, just talking in an open fashion, about their everyday lives. Think of the research we have at our disposal for free. Search for certain keywords and phrases that would interest your company. Tap into this powerful resource and discover what people want, have problems with, and love to talk about.

How can you best leverage that for your company? We’d love to hear from you.