I was searching for a new book at Chapters last Friday evening (yes, I am that cool that I spend Friday nights at Chapters) when a sweet little tea mug caught my eye. Written across the front, the mug says “the quieter you become, the more you can hear.” So very true! And as someone who loves to talk, this mug would serve as a good reminder for me to quiet down and listen up—there is a lot to be learned through just listening.
This quote is not only a good reminder for chatterboxes like me, it’s a good reminder for everyone who uses social media professionally. For those who manage social media accounts for a business, it is easy to just focus on what you’re posting because it is a lot of work just planning and creating content, however listening is just as important for your brand.
Listening helps you stay on top of the technology that is out there, news and events, what is trending and on trend, what your competition is doing, who your audience is, what content your audience engages with most, what people are saying about your business, and more. Basically, if you want to be successful on social media, you have to listen.
My two favourite listening tools are Google Alerts and Sprout Social:
- Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a wonderful free tool that allows me to keep an eye on what is being said online about my organization. Google Alerts tracks the web for keywords I have entered, compiles web results featuring those keywords, and sends me a daily email with the results. It is a simple yet effective way to monitor what is being said about your brand online, with minimal effort on your part.
- Sprout Social: I am a new Sprout Social user and I love it! Unfortunately it is not free, but if you are part of a large business or organization then I would absolutely recommend it. Sprout Social is a social media management tool that organizes all of your accounts into one content management system. In Sprout Social, I am able to view my social media inbox, which includes Facebook comments, reviews, direct messages, tweets, re-tweets, Instagram comments, and more. I can view the demographics of my followers across all platforms, I can write and schedule content, I can view how my content is performing, I can listen for target keywords and see what my audience is saying about my organization, and more. I am really happy with this tool and I find it is helping me listen more, and become more organized and strategic with my approach to social media.
Another part of listening means staying on top of news and current events. I used to visit websites like TheStar.com for news or pick up a hard copy of Vanity Fair magazine for in-depth articles, and I’ll admit that I was once an avid PerezHilton.com follower for celeb gossip, but now I just fully rely on Twitter and Facebook as my sources to stay up-to-date.
On Twitter, I follow journalists, news organizations, and personalities of interest to me that help me stay informed on breaking news, major stories, and articles of interest. I also look at the trending topics list and click on any that jump out as breaking news (i.e. not “#NationalComplimentDay,” although that is a nice thing to come across ☺) to ensure I’m not out-of-the-loop. On Facebook, I follow accounts and pages that provide me with news stories and information of interest, and my feed is regularly filled with links to in-depth stories (no need for a copy of Vanity Fair magazine anymore). Facebook’s trending topics list also catches my eye and I click on any story that seems significant. Similar to Google Alerts, once you organize your Twitter and Facebook accounts in a way that keeps you informed, then it is a pretty passive way to have the news come to you.
There was a time when we’d wait for the morning paper to arrive, getting newsprint on our fingertips as we sipped our morning coffee. Today, staying informed means checking our newsfeeds, getting our Google Alerts sent to our email inbox, using social media management tools, and more, at all hours of the day. Better pour myself another cup!