Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard many references to social media marketing – from praise to criticism. Listening to the conversation, I’ve come to a final conclusion: social media is NOT about the tools. You don’t get started by setting up a company Twitter account or your Facebook Fanpage.
How do you start? Monitoring.
Almost every conversation I have about social media immediately turns to a specific tool. The crutch for understanding the concept is focusing on the tools and how they work rather than the real question: Does social media make sense for my business?
The lightbulb went off for me. Whether you love social media or question the concept, you owe it to yourself and your business to start monitoring. That will guide strategy and, ultimately, the tactics and tools.
Monitoring doesn’t tie you to social media. In fact, no one even has to know you’re doing it. You don’t even have to do it in a formal manner. But you SHOULD have an idea of what’s being said about your brands in the social media. What’s being said about your brands? Where? How are your consumers interacting and using social media? Is anyone even talking about you? You should know how social media impacts your business.
Now, off my soapbox, and here are a few ideas to get started:
Begin by developing an initial list of keywords you want to begin monitoring. It could include your company name or brands, or maybe product categories, industry terms or thought leaders. You may also want to start monitoring your competition. As you monitor, you’ll start to see how customers talk about you and additional keywords will begin to make sense. Don’t forget common misspellings or slang terms!
Then, use some of the various free tools to begin monitoring. Many allow you to save the searches, so monitoring is as simple as opening the program and reviewing the new results every day (those are my favorite!). Here are a few sites or tools you can use:
- General Monitoring: Social Mention, Addictomatic
- Twitter: Hootsuite, Seesmic, Tweetdeck, Top Follow Friday, Twitter Search
- Blogs and Web: Google Alerts, Technorati
There are tons – and if you already monitor, what are you favorites?