Listening is the key to social media

I’ve read several articles online, similar to this one by Shel Holtz on Ragan’s PR Daily, talking about social media tactics when tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing grip the nation. And almost every one I’ve read misses the point.

trending on twitter

Looking at trending topics is the bare minimum of listening

It’s pretty simple, really. Think of a Facebook newsfeed or a Twitter feed as a group of people standing around talking to one another. Most of the time, people are talking about a variety of things: sharing funny stories, talking about their kids, discussing current events or pop culture- you get the point. It is completely natural in these cases to walk up and share something interesting from your company or organization. This is how social media works most of the time.

Sometimes, everyone in that group is talking about the same thing. It could be the Superbowl, the finale of “American Idol,” an election, or anything else non-tragic you might think of. You would seem out of touch if you walked up and shared some random story about your organization. If you tie your content into what they’re talking about, you’re golden.

Finally, tragic events will occur that everyone in your target audience is talking about. If you’re a consumer of social media, you’ve seen it before. Every single Tweet or status update is about the same thing. Our group of people (the ones standing around and talking), are sharing details, asking questions, and looking to one another for emotional support. If you think this is a good time to share your content, you might be in the wrong business.

What are the takeaways? I think there are a few things to keep in mind to be successful in the social media space:

  • Be a social media consumer. You can’t join the conversation without knowing what the conversation is or listening to what others are saying.
  • Be aware of autoposts and scheduled posts. If you’re going to be a part of the conversation, you should actually “be there.”

A lot of people think you should be paying close attention to current events, but if you take just two or three minutes looking at Twitter or Facebook before you post, you’ll have all the information you’ll need.

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