Use automated tools to monitor social media for brand mentions and specific keywords. Respond and convert.
Why it's a good idea
Millions of conversations per day happen on social — some of which present excellent opportunities to showcase your brand. More than ever, prospects turn to these sites for personalized recommendations and research before purchasing decisions.
The best of these are Twitter and Reddit, both of which are relatively trivial to monitor. By setting up alerts, you can discover threads quickly, enabling timely responses at critical stages of the buyer’s journey.
What to track
Most brands intuit that they should track their brand mentions. Mentions of your brand name or website tend to surface customer service opportunities, but a good portion may still be user-to-user recommendations or comparison requests. For this reason, it’s also strongly encouraged to track mentions of your competitor brand names. From their customer service requests, you can learn possible marketing angles, and from the other types, you can help persuade users to choose your solution.
How to act on it
For most customer service requests, brands typically refer users to direct messages or other official customer support channels. This is often due to personal information requirements to fulfill the request.
If no personal information is required, or if the questions are general inquiries around capabilities or features, you may consider responding publicly. The litmus test for this decision often comes down to, “Is this going to be helpful for other people?”
For other requests, such as comparison inquiries or posts seeking personalized recommendations, a friendly yet not-overly promotional response is ideal. Avoiding overly-promotional messages is mostly handled by providing personalized responses, incorporating and directly responding to points in the original post. Note that in all cases, if you’re responding from a brand account or in an official capacity, you should identify yourself as a person (including name) from the company.
Another key factor is the timeliness of response. Most threads are short-lived, and if you pop in several days or weeks later, it’ll be clear to users that you’re just promotional. Being an organic part of the conversation is vital, and there does seem to be a benefit from having users think that you’re responding quickly because you’re also a member of this community. To react quickly, try to review mentions daily, or perhaps even receive push notifications about strong matches.
How to measure the impact
Responding to social mentions can often feel like a one-to-one sales process. However, many networks have inherent amplification features that highlight responses, likes, or favorites to the user’s network of followers.
It is unlikely that a response submitted to a Reddit mention or Twitter mention will only be seen by the user who mentioned you. Keep this in mind when you construct your replies (do not offer any single-use coupons or specific account advice).
The best way to prove the worth of a campaign is to use UTM codes on any links that you insert into your responses. Even so, not all responses will have links (some social sites won’t parse them or will strip UTM codes), and not all responses will result in sales opportunities.
Attribution of these types of campaigns is notoriously tricky. You might look for bursts of direct traffic or general referral traffic from whichever social networks you’re targeting. Presumably, some users will search Google for your brand name or website and arrive from there, which may appear in Google Search Console performance reports.
Most tools charge on a volume basis, so costs typically scale with the number of keywords or potential use of those keywords across the web.
Figure roughly $30 per month for starter plans (just for small to medium-size brands) and up to thousands of dollars per month for huge brands, products, or topics.
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Tech and Tools
Here are few tools that routinely come up as social listening tools:
– Boardreader (for forums)
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I'm a developer, marketer, and writer based in Appleton, Wisconsin.