Listening is an under-developed skill for most people in everyday life.  And when it comes to Social Listening, most people hardly make any effort at all. Many business owners use Social Media only to broadcast their message. They broadcast out sales messages on autopilot and then they turn around and say that Social Media doesn’t work for business. Their excuse for not listening? They’re not interested in what people are eating for lunch! And they don’t have time for inane chatter! They don’t realise that conversation is good for business. Good conversationalists tend to be good listeners. Learning how to listen online gives you a great advantage over your competitors.

So what do I mean by Listening?

When I talk about Social Listening, I mean more than just monitoring online conversations.

Social Media monitoring is very useful way to find out what is being said on internet. If you have a big budget, there very useful software that helps to make your monitoring easier, but the costs are often out of reach of most small businesses owner’s pockets. With a bit of know-how, you can set up your own listening dashboards and there are useful tools to use. There are also ways to search for real-time conversations that are taking about your product or service you offer.

But, I want to talk about listening in more of an old-fashioned human to human kind of way. The human element of Social Media is often under-estimated. There is a reason for the word “Social” in Social Media and Social Selling. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Technology has changed dramatically, but human nature hasn’t. Feeling seen, heard and acknowledged are important to us, so why wouldn’t they be important to our customers?

How do you think people would react to you if you wandered around the streets talking to yourself?  Imagine how many friends you would have if all you ever spoke about was yourself and you never asked questions or listened?  Normal rules of engagement apply online.  Here are five reasons to listen:

To engage and build relationships

A good way to think of Social Networks is in terms of physical places you would go to meet people in real life. So. for example, Facebook could be a big party at someone’s house, Twitter could be a cocktail party and LinkedIn could be a business conference. All of these are good places to meet all sorts of people and make connections.  Imagine if you barged up to everyone, handed out your business card and delivered a sales pitch at them? I suspect you would find people moving rapidly away from you and trying to avoid you. When you listen first to what people are saying and talk about what they want to talk about, you build up better relationships.

To hear what people are saying about you

The good, the bad and the ugly.  People are talking about you, hopefully!  If nobody is, do they know your business exists?  So many business owners think that if they go on Twitter, it will open the floodgates of negative comments. But guess what? People will have discussions about your business whether you are there to hear them or not.

If you are a nice person and good at what you do, most of what people will be saying nice things about you, your service or your company. It is great to hear compliments. Imagine if you were to write a lovely letter of praise to a company and they don’t even acknowledge your letter. How would you feel? Would you do it again?If there is a problem or a complaint, it is better to know about

If there is a problem or a complaint, it is better to know so that you can handle it properly.  By responding to comments, queries and complaints in a helpful and professional way, your customers are more likely to buy from you again and research has shown that they are likely to feel more loyal towards you than if they didn’t complain at all.

To learn news about your industry and local area

There is so much information out there!  Following thought-leaders and influential people in your industry is a quick way to bring an endless source of relevant content direct to your news stream.  You can’t read everything, of course, but you can gain so much knowledge.

To find out if people have expressed a need for your product or services

People are constantly talking and asking advice online, in real time.  If you sell widgets and someone is asking advice about widgets, you would be a fool not to listen.  Discussions are going on all the time within groups on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ and directly on Twitter. Searching for phrases that your customers might be using to ask for your product or service is a great way to reach potential customers. People are far more likely to recommend you if you are active on that platform and they can tag you than if they have to email you separately about it.

To smile, be amused and inspired

When you listen on Social Media, there is an added benefit: You’ll find that you enjoy Social Media more. There’s so much humour online and so many lovely stories that I would be incredibly surprised if you couldn’t one thing to make you smile every day. You’ll feel part of a community and online strangers will start to become friends.

How much time do you spend listening online? What tools do you use to help you to listen? Leave a comment below.

Source: LinkedIn

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