Nowadays, social media is like the life support to any good brand. When the plug is pulled, or there’s a kink in the line, the brand suffers.

While that may sound like an extreme analogy, it’s really not by today’s digital marketing standards. I’m going to lay it all out on the line for you about why social media should be at the top of your mind.

But, before we dive in, let’s start with the basics. Social media is just that: it’s social. It has created a way of life where people from all corners of the Earth can connect and form bonds across oceans and borders.

It’s pretty much the axis on which our world—and businesses in it—turn.

As big of an impact that it continues to have on our world as we know it, it’s amazing to see how many brands aren’t doing it right. Far too often, I’ll log on to a social platform—let’s say Twitter, for example—and see companies rapid-fire tweeting about a new product or their latest and greatest service.

When I see these tweets, all that I really see is Sell, sell, sell! If people were craving this type of content, they’d flip on their TV at 3 a.m. every night and watch an infomercial.

Brands who continually push their product onto their audience are not only doing themselves a disservice but the people who are being served the content as well.

If you’re a social media manager, specialist, marketer, or whatever else your title may be, it’s your job to create content that packs a serious punch. You’re going to want to double down your efforts to provide your client and their target audience with the most value.

How do you do it?

I thought you’d never ask.

The answer to today’s question is social listening.

As the Content Manager here at Flying Cork, my days are spent managing clients’ social media platforms by engaging with their audiences and boosting their number of followers.

But, the bulk of my day isn’t spent crafting tweets to sell. It’s spent crafting tweets that listen.

You’re probably reading this and thinking to yourself, “Wow, I’m glad she’s not managing my social platforms!”

But, before you jump to conclusions, let me explain. Just because I’m not outwardly selling doesn’t mean that I’m not getting my clients’ brands in front of the right sets of eyes.

In fact, social listening is a non-salesperson’s approach to making a sale. Not making sense?

Let me explain.

Social listening is the act of monitoring conversations that are going on around the internet with the intent of understanding what the customers are saying about your niche and your brand. From there, you can take this information and craft valuable, relevant content that speaks to the common pain points and topics of conversation that are buzzing around your niche.

My favorite tool for social listening is Twitter bar none.

While many knock this social platform for being stagnant and stale, I relish in its ability to let me tap into the mind of my clients’ target audiences.

My two-prong guide to social listening via Twitter is pretty simple, and I’m going to share it with you so can start hearing what the people who matter most are saying.

Search

I want to introduce you to your new best friend, Twitter’s search tool. It’s through this search engine that you’ll be able to input the keyword(s) that are relevant to your client’s niche.

For the sake of this blog, let’s say that your client is a local bakery that sells world-famous scones. Super random, but roll with it.

There are two ways to use the Twitter search tool. The first is simple: in the search bar, all that you would do is type scone. From there, a slew of recent tweets will appear that include the keyword, scone.

The second option is using the Advanced Search tool. With this option you can refine your search to help you narrow down your results and laser in on the people who are most likely to make a purchase.

Here’s a screenshot of what you’ll see when you navigate to the Advanced Search page. As you can see, there are many fields that you can fill in in order to refine your search.

Flying Cork blog on the importance of social listening through Twitter.

If I were managing the bakery’s Twitter page, I would focus on keywords like bakery, baked goods and scones as well as the Places feature to locate people near the bakery that are talking about scones.

At this point, you’ve done your research and have found the people who are tweeting about your focus keyword(s). Now, it’s time for the main event – to engage with these users.

Listen & Engage

It’s at this point in the process that you want to get creative. The first step in doing so is to realize that you’re a human and you’ll be talking to humans, and create relevant responses that don’t make you look like a stage-five clinger.

Personally, this is my favorite part of social listening because it allows me to add some personality to my clients’ Twitter profiles and actively tap into conversations that are going on within this social platform.

I must caution you that before you even hit reply you’ll want to think carefully about what you’re going to say. The most important rule when chiming in on a conversation is to be sure that what you’re about to tweet is providing some sort of value to the users in the conversation.

All of your responses should be value-driven, not sales-driven. The sale will come inherently from a valuable exchange.

Let’s get back to our bakery example so that I can show you what I’m talking about. So, let’s say that you find a tweet that basically jumps off the screen at you – the perfect opportunity.

Someone near the bakery is tweeting about craving a scone. Rather than tweeting something along the lines of, “We have scones for $2.99,” get a little creative. How about something like, “We’re always craving scones, too! That’s why we make them fresh daily. Stop by and give them a try!”

From this interaction, you’re not only putting the bakery in front of the eyes of someone who is interested in your product, but you’re also adding personality to your brand in a way that will resonate with your target audience.

When it comes to brands on social media, it’s all about leading with value and creating content that shows that you’re listening to what your target audience has to say. In my opinion, Twitter is the perfect starting point to join in on the conversations that matter most and can move the needle.

Before I go, I’m going to leave you with a joke: “What’s the fastest cake in the world? Scone.”