Two steps to social media success

It sounds over simplified, but really there are only two steps to being effective in social media.

Step 1
Listen. Set up listening tools like Techrigy’s SM2, Radian6, BuzzLogic,Trackur, Search Monitor, Backtype, Google Alerts, Monniter, Sideline and Twilerts to find out what people are talking about related to your industry and your company. Each of these tools has their strengths and you need to match the tool to your budget as well as your needs.You may want to use more than one to focus on different keywords but it can be counter=productive to have too many alerts going. If they’re all reporting the same information it can get very noisy! Most of these have trials and several are free, so don’t feel like you need to start with the most expensive package. The point is to start finding out where conversations are happening and what people are talking about.

Step 2
Engage. Do something with the information you’ve gathered. Are people:

  • Asking questions about your products? Answer them and offer help.
  • Complaining about your brand? Turn it into an opportunity to convert by solving their problem and letting them know you are paying attention to them.
  • Saying positive things about you? Thank them. Let them know they’ve been heard and you appreciate their support. Inspire loyalty.

Like any dance you have to repeat the steps. Over and over again. Once you’ve connected with people, make sure you stay connected. Not in a”capture those sales leads for the database” sort of way, but in a real human connection. If you’re both on a social network ping them occasionally with information or answer questions they post to the network. Every time you touch base with them you deepen the relationship and you have an opportunity to make it even better.

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Andy Beal

I love the simplicity of your advice!

Some companies are scared to do step 2 (Engage) so for them, I'd even suggest "Learn" as an alternative. Even if you decide not to engage your stakeholders, learn from their complaints/suggestions. You'll find you build better products, offer stronger services, and, ultimately, have happier customers!

PS. Thanks for mentioning Trackur!

Marko Saric

It may look too simplified, but it really is simple.

Monitor and track your keywords. Then take action, connect and help out. Be open, do not hide anything, help people who have questions, thank people that are satisfied and they will like you and will forward your link / retweet you to their friends.

Amber Naslund

Hiya! I agree with Andy: love how straightforward this is. The other critical piece is to examine the intent of your interactions before you start. Listening and engaging are key, but understanding the culture of social media and knowing that success is driven by participation and contribution (vs. pitching or broadcast marketing) is really important to businesses wanting to do this for the long haul. Of course, those listening closely in the first place might learn just by doing so! 🙂

Thanks for the mention.

Amber Naslund
Director of Community | Radian6

Andy Beal

Thanks Janet, I appreciate your decision to trust Trackur with your monitoring.


Well I said it was an over-simplification… WEG
There is a ton to learn of course, but if you get down to the basics, this is it.


Good point Andy. If you don't want to or can't engage, at least learn something. I notice you do a very good job of keeping on top of your listening and engaging. That's one of the reasons I'm a loyal Trackur customer. Well, that and it's an outstanding way to listen at an affordable cost!

Bryan Person

I'd add a step 3: Measure. Whether that's with analytics or some other tool for tracking, it's important to which of your engagements tactics and tools are working best. Then, you can adjust your efforts appropriately as you run through the cycle again.

Bryan | @BryanPerson


Yep, measuring is incredibly important but I lump it in with listening. I really think some people never get on the bandwagon because social media seems so complex and it really doesn't have to be. By listening (and measuring) you can really be on top of your social media engagement.

Norman Birnbach

As far as two-steps go, this is a good post. But the listening isn't the difficult part. It's the engaging that is the challenge.

We've been finding that an additional challenge is that clients and prospective clients are very interested in hearing about social media but that when it comes to actually prioritizing social media work, they still focus on traditional media. There are two reasons for that, I think, and the latter impacts Janet's two-step:

1: Some people in communications functions are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with social media, and they don't understand (or, perhaps, do understand) the effort required to generate traction in social media.
2. The lack of benchmarks for success make it difficult to determine the ROI of a PR initiative. When you get a placement in a print newspaper, you can frame it and hang it on the wall, and it looks good. If you did that with an online placement, it looks like you framed a computer printout. More to the point, the question of determine a successful corporate Twitter initiative, blogger outreach, etc. Last year, we spoke with a prospective client who measures the success of their programs based solely on ad equivalency. Since those don't exist yet for Twitter, blogs, Facebook, etc., a lot of clients are reluctant to engage.

Therefore, I suggest that Janet add a third-step: Identifying appropriate benchmarks.


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