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A Good Social Strategy Is 80 Percent Listening, 20 Percent Talking

By: Jack Holt


Remember that old adage of great speakers, “know your audience”? You think of it before you make a toast, start an argument, or crack a joke. And you should think about it before you tweet, too.
On social media, your company is always in front of its audience. That’s why knowing your company’s following — what’s important to them, what resonates with them, and what they love about your business — is more important than ever.

Share Something They Care About

Cracking the code to a thriving social media presence is a tough task for any small business. Here’s a good rule of thumb: A good social media strategy should be 80 percent listening and 20 percent talking. Studying your Twitter followers is essential because you need to know your audience, why they’re watching you, and what you can do to spark a conversation.

On Twitter, a “conversation” can mean a few specific things: “retweeting” or sharing something you’ve posted, “favoriting” a post, or replying to your business directly. And there’s only one guaranteed way to get people to engage with you: Give them something they care about. That’s the difference between being a “sign spinner” and a storyteller. Offer your followers something they find valuable, and they’ll offer you engagement in return.

The worst thing you can do is engage in mindless, repetitive self-promotion. You’ll only achieve an “unfollow” — possibly a hundred times over. To make sure you aren’t talking about yourself too much, only make one out of five posts a self-promotional tweet. The rest should be useful articles, news, commentary, or even funny videos — something that offers your followers a reason to share and engage.

How to Find the Content Your Followers Want

So, where can you find content that’s relevant to your target audience and meaningful for your company’s brand? The easiest way is to let your followers tell you. Here are a few ways to determine what content will resonate with your Twitter following:

  • See what your followers have in common. TNaturally, one thing your followers have in common is your business. But what else do they share? Jobs, hobbies, TV shows, music — all these things can help you build a better understanding of your average follower and what he finds important.
  • Find out which followers are influential. Klout can tell you which followers have a lot of interactions on different social networks. News organizations and established bloggers usually have high Klout scores, for example. These are good followers to watch and engage with. If your small business can get a retweet from one of these users, then a much larger audience will see your content and come to know your brand.
  • Listen to what they’re talking about. Check out a few people who’ve interacted with you on Twitter. Which topics and media are they sharing? These are the things your followers care about — and what you should care about, too.
  • Look beyond your brand. What other brands is your audience excited about? These other businesses belong to your “brand circle.” Tweet and post about them, and guess what? Nine times out of 10, they’ll do the same for you.

Speaking Effectively

Successful marketing on social media means engaging your followers. To do that, you need to tailor your brand’s personality to fit your customers so you’re speaking to them as authentically as possible.Here’s a great example: Everyone remembers Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” moment. But the one that took planning, research, and guts was its famous gay pride ad. Why? Oreo knew the post would cause controversy, but the company also knew that the loudest voices in its social following would support it. Oreo had a hunch that it was right for its following and brand, and people are still talking about it.

Crafting an informed, tailored social media strategy is hard work, and bringing it to life is even harder. But with time, discipline, and persistence, winning over one person at a time will create a following of engaged brand advocates.

Are you using Twitter for your business right now? How do you plan to tailor your social media strategy in the future?

Published: January 23, 2014

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Jack Holt

Jack Holt is co-founder and CEO of Mattr. Mattr is easily accessible software that segments brands’ social audiences with personality analysis. Jack founded S3 Matching Technologies in 2001; tens of thousands of users, including Hewlett-Packard, the New York Stock Exchange, Proctor & Gamble, and others depend on these apps each day. Follow Jack on Twitter.

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