I have recently been accused of being a control freak – I know! No one reading this is shocked. In fact, you're all trying to figure out who was brave enough to actually say it to me! The reality is that if you have an online presence, you need to ensure you are in control of that presence at all times, and the best way to do this is to have an active listening strategy.
So what do I mean by active listening?
The term active listening comes from one of many ‘heated debates' I had with my eldest daughter in her early teens. You know when someone is both hearing and listening to you – but paying zero attention to what you've told them? That's the opposite to active listening! If you are actively listening, you hear what is being said and act upon it. I used to think this was something I had come up with on my own, but if you Google the term there is article after article defining it and explaining the technique and its benefits.
So, where am I going with this?
An online listening strategy is not enough.
Over the years we have discussed tools that can be used to aid your listening strategy, and techniques you should be using. But I fear that sometimes a business owner might do one thing and think they've done enough. I asked a client recently what their strategy was, and they answered that they had registered with ‘that tool' we told them about. On further questioning, I found the following:
– ‘that tool' was mention.net
– the email notifications were all filed in a folder automatically and were sitting unread in the client's email account
– that was the entirety of their listening strategy
There is nothing active in that. In fact, the implementation of that strategy ended when they set up the folder in their inbox to automatically file those annoying emails.
There are hundreds of tools out there you can use to help you implement a listening strategy, but it is important that you are reviewing results regularly and using more than one tactic!
5 actions you can take now
1. Set up searches for your business name – use something like Mention.net or your social media management tool (e.g. Hootsuite or eClincher)
2. Set up searches for typos – we all know how easy it is to mistype something, especially when in a rush or when frustrations are high! Is there a Twitter account out there people might be tagging instead of you, for example? If so, do a search for mentions of that too!
3. Figure out what works – make sure you are listening to your industry leaders and influencers. What are they talking about that is getting the most interaction? What's working for them?
4. Search for mentions of your competitors – who's talking to them? What are they being asked? This could be a valuable resource if you look for the right information.
5. Listen for the positives as well as the negatives – when we talk about social listening, I think there is an assumption that we are listening for the ‘bad stuff'. Don't forget people say good stuff too!
Diarise one slot a week to check everything, especially the five items above. All being well, this will take no more than a few minutes. If you find something – take control and deal with it.
One last thing – have you heard yourself recently?
While you're working through your listening strategy, take a look across your own web and social presence with fresh eyes. What is your audience finding when they look at your online presence? Does it reflect your overall strategy? What is the message you are currently sharing with the world?