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Benefits of Social Media Scheduling and Social Listening

880 461 Gretchen Ardizzone

Managing social media, whether it be for yourself, another brand or client, requires constant activity and responsiveness. The most efficient way I think people can stay at the top of their social game is to utilize social media scheduling and social listening. Some individuals might see the negative in automating some of the process, but I want to share with you a few reasons why it’s efficient and can actually provide you the time you need to be more actively engaged with your followers.

Scheduling

There are a number of social media management tools that can be used for scheduling communications. Ask anyone and you’ll likely get several different suggestions. We’ve found great success with HootSuite and Sprout Social, it just depends on your particular needs and what might work best for you. HootSuite worked well for our own social scheduling, but as we’ve continued to grow and oversee social media for more of our clients, Sprout Social has been helpful to manage multiple accounts in one platform.

Why schedule? Since your audience is likely not online 24/7, you can select various times throughout the day to publish your content to test what time of day you get the most traction. Depending on the platform, you can also select messages to be published at the most optimal time for engagement.

When it comes to the content shared on social media, we believe in a balance of curated and original content. But curating the right content can also take time. Instead of having to hunt down news items to share, set up an account with an aggregator like Feedly or Scoop.It. You can also use notification services like Google Alerts, Talkwalker or Mention to receives alerts when a brand or topic is mentioned or a news item is published. By curating that content and scheduling, you can spend active time responding to mentions or comments, as well as reviewing other content that could be suitable to retweet or share.

Social Listening

Here’s where efficiency with your time leads to activity. Social listening can provide extreme benefits. To start social listening establish keywords and streams to track for conversations relevant to your brand. By doing this it helps identify opportunities for you to engage with both followers and non-followers. Here are a few additional areas you can gain insight from listening:

Trending Topics: Understand what topics are trending in relation to your brand. This could help you identify gaps in the marketplace for a particular product offering or service, or could help you establish positioning for a particular marketing campaign.

Content Ideas: If you see a trending topic, leverage for creating timely content. Maybe you notice over a period of time a lot of followers asking questions about a certain subject. Put yourself in an authority position by creating a how-to guide, e-book, quick tips, or anything else that might ease the consumer’s pain points around the matter.

Identifying Influencers: Pay attention to individuals that are often talking about topics that relate to your brand. These are ideal people to encourage to follow your brand to have them help spread the word. You can start by following them, sharing their content, and then progress into more genuine conversations. When the time feels right you can consider offering a product sample for review, or invite them to participate in a consumer panel to gather deeper insights. Some brands even scout out online influencers to serve as brand ambassadors or bloggers.

Recognize Advocates: Pay attention to brand advocates. They have powerful insight and can sometimes prevent you from making brand blunders. While they may love your brand, they’re often the first to speak up when they’re not happy. You may recall when Maker’s Mark announced they were going to reduce the amount of alcohol content in their product. Customers took to social media to address their displeasure and ultimately the brand (wisely) reversed their decision.

Geographic Targeting: It’s a big, big world of social media and while you have the capability to communicate with audiences all over the world, sometimes your marketing efforts require a more targeted approach. You can narrow your listening focus to help deliver locally relevant content, and could be ideal if you’re launching in a new market.

Responding to Customer Service Issues: I mentioned in previous post on customer service that not all issues are brought directly to you. By listening to online to consumer complaints you can identify opportunities where its advised to mitigate the situation. Turning a negative into a positive situation can be one of the best things you can do for your brand. But don’t just put on a social front, make sure you follow through with appropriate action. Don’t be a Lululemon transparent pants-gate (sorry Lulu).

Competitor Monitoring: Not only is it a good idea to listen to what consumers are saying about you, but it’s also advised to watch out (or listen) for the competition. You can identify customer disconnects and use them as brand advantages. It’s also good to see how you stack up, and what you can learn (and then do it better).

Again, the key point with social media scheduling is not just creating content, publishing, and walking away. Instead it’s about actively listening and finding opportunities to engage with people. It doesn’t mean less involvement, just a more organized and strategic approach, and when done right, can lead to great dividends in the end.

Are you scheduling your social media content and actively listening to online conversations? We’d love to hear how it works for you. Share your experience in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Melvin Gaal (Mindsharing.eu)

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Tools For Content Curation

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In order to have significance in the online world, you have to post relevant and timely content that means something to you and your audience. However, the process of finding great content to share, as well as deciding when or how to share it can be challenging and time-consuming. Here are a few tools to help you get the ball rolling:

Feedly and Scoop.it

Feedly is one of the most popular tools for content curation, and personally – it’s a great tool. You add the URL’s of the pages or blogs you follow and when they are posted they show up in a magical stream of great content that you can share. Essentially you subscribe to these blogs through Feedly and each time you open your account the latest blog posts are available. Another helpful tool to use is Scoop.it which is similar to Feedly except you use keywords instead of web addresses and you store the information you want to share on categorized boards. These are really good resources used to generate content that is specific to your industry. The best part of these tools is they are completely tailored to fit your content curating needs.

Google+ Communities

Google+ Communities are advantageous because you can use them to not only distribute content but gather content as well. For example, if you are looking for “Marketing” content in Google+ Communities you can simply search marketing in the ‘Communities’ field, where you will find prime resources for information. The first three communities that come up under “Marketing” are “Social Media Marketing,” “Content Marketing and Social Media,” and “Social Media Marketing for Business Owners.” All of these communities and plenty of other communities are full of good information to take a look at.

Twitter Lists

Like many social media platforms, Twitter is valuable for content in general, whether it’s from participating in chats to using Twitter for directly searching for content either with hashtags or keywords. However, Twitter provides one tool that is a useful way to get your hands on some relevant content –  Twitter Lists. Twitter Lists are fantastic because they are similar to Feedly and Scoop.it because they provide a completely customized list of the information you want to read, but instead of just looking at websites and articles on the web, you’re looking at tweets from specific people or companies.  The best way to use Twitter lists is not only for influential people, but for those who inspire you, motivate you, or even people who just make you laugh. It’s a simple and easy to use tool.

Hootsuite

HootSuite is simply the bee’s knees when it comes to content curation. You can use this tool with multiple social media platforms to make it easier to share the content you find and can schedule it accordingly. You compose your awesome information into a message and it can disperse your posts to various social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, or even WordPress – that’s all there is to it. Hootsuite doesn’t only help you share content, it also helps you find great content. Within Hootsuite you can search for information by searching hashtags that are relevant to your accounts such as #businesstips or #marketing. You can also keep an eye on your feeds on various platforms, all in one place. Now let’s talk scheduling. With Hootsuite there are two options: Auto schedule, which is when Hootsuite estimates is the best time for that message to be posted, or when you choose – and then Hootsuite provides a calendar for you to schedule a time for the post.

Calendars

Now that you have tools to find content and a dashboard where you can share your content, it’s time to find a tool to layout the content you find so you can schedule it accordingly. Although Hootsuite is a beneficial tool and has a scheduling calendar built in it, it’s a good idea to also have a separate calendar to not only make your content curation more effective and efficient, but to help you keep your head on straight. You can always use an editorial calendar, however, the most important part of keeping track of your content and when it’s being published is when and how it’s comfortable to you. If you struggle to understand or simply don’t like the layout of some of the calendar tools out there you should always look around. Evernote has a great calendar, or you can connect your calendars with others with a resource like CoSchedule. Another option is to keep it simple with Google calendar or the handy little iCal. Look around for what is comfortable for you!

Remember, each piece of content you share should have a purpose:

  • To inform
  • To instruct
  • To inspire
  • To entertain
  • To start a conversation
  • To express an opinion
  • To share industry knowledge or resources

If your content doesn’t have one of these purposes, then it shouldn’t be shared with your audience.

Photo Credit: *s@lly*

Twitter For Business Part 2 – Tools of the Trade

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Last week in Part 1 we provided some really fundamental notes on getting your business’ Twitter account rolling. The common thread of that post, which will carry over here, is that you should focus efforts that drive engagement on Twitter. Efforts of that kind can take time, dedication and patience. In this post, we’re going to talk about some tools available to help you more efficiently manage and tailor your activity.

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