The Importance of Listening…Online

When it comes to communication, listening often gets pushed aside. Sometimes we’re too busy planning our next statement versus listening to what others really need. Some of the greatest tools (and a great way to start a social campaign) is to listen to the conversations around you. From a business angle, getting feedback from customers verbally and referrals from past clients is the backbone to growing successful. How can a small business take those listening skills and conversations online?

Here’s how:

1) Become friends with
Not sure how to jump into the world of social media and more specifically, Twitter? Our first recommendation is to listen and learn from the conversations around you. Twitter is a flurry of keyword rich mini-conversations. Use Twitter Search, and their RSS Feed, and monitor your keywords through the feed. (You can add the feed to your Google home page for example). Become aware of how #hashtags are used, RT – ReTweets, and how others engage conversation with proper etiquette (that’s another blog post!). Understand the proper balance of followers/following ratio, the balance of: links, information, and personality in your tweets. LISTEN…and learn.

2) Setup Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a simple google search, except you set it up once and it searches for you. Monitoring your keywords (branded and nonbranded – vertical and lateral phases) and your competition online is great with Google Alerts. You can choose to deliver your alerts via RSS or via e-mail. Yahoo! Pipes is similar on the Yahoo! side…Good stuff…

3) Listen on Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers
Questions are posted every day related to a variety of industries. It’s a great way to listen to the needs of consumers on your particular business niche. See the questions they pose, the answers being given and learn more about your brand or niche and what your potential customers request.

With your listening skills tuned and an understanding of proper response techniques, the door is open to gaining business exposure and conversions to build success.

Interested in more? Join this month’s FREE SmartGroup (May 26th 2009 Topic: Social Media for Small Business) and AdFed AdBite (May 28th Topic: Online Brand Management).