Sustainable social media starts and ends with listening
It's been great that more and more of my conversations with clients have moved from, "should we do social media", to, "how can we make it sustainable, create momentum and achieve measurable results?" For us, this means it's time to roll up our sleeves and have some fun.
We've helped many of those clients start blogs, Twitter channels and Facebook pages, which is followed by the challenge of building a following. There are tools available to take short cuts to for this, but inevitably this leads to building the wrong following, or people that don't really care what the company does. The effort needs to focus on finding those folks out there with an identifiable interest that matches what a company can offer them.
But that will only get companies so far. This is where companies need to think differently when it comes to leveraging their social media channel and developing their content for those channels. By default, that content should be developed in response to what members of the buying community find valuable. This is not traditional marketing content. This is content that is authentic, conversational, personal and real. It is not a brand talking. It is a person talking and engaging members of the buying community based upon what they want to talk about. And the key to this? Listening.
That's why I believe the heart of any social media effort is listening to the online conversation (on blogs, Twitter/FriendFeed/Facebook/LinkedIn, etc) both to find those individuals that represent customers, prospective customers and partners, as well as to use what they are saying to drive the content for the company's social media channels. This takes time, but this is the value that communications teams offer now, so the time spent by the customer-facing folks is focused on the content.
Starting with this foundation will lead to a sustainable, efficient and measurable social media effort. What do you think? How effective is your listening? Are you doing enough?