Why and How Your Business Needs to Listen Online

Listen Online Social MediaIt seems that in this day of social media sharing a lot of companies have gotten the sharing part down but they have not gotten the listening part quite as figured out. Social media is best utilized when communications are democratized rather than placed on a one way street. This means not merely just posting things on your Facebook or Twitter feeds because you think it will contribute to your bottom line, but engaging users with pin point responses. Social media has become a platform in which consumers feel that their voice should be heard and the best social media managers can achieve this successfully.

Learn by Example

There are some great companies, big and small, who are listening correctly in social media. A favorite company of ours to showcase is Macy’s. Just this past holiday season Macy’s did what most engaging companies will do on their Twitter feeds: posted questions that incited consumer interaction. They asked “Who do you have left to buy for this holiday?” Given their strong following, they no doubt got a plethora of responses of engaged Twitter fans. What stood out the most from Macy’s ability to actively listen was that they took the time to respond to every single one of the users who left a comment to provide the most personalized experience as possible.

As you can imagine, the feedback was great. Regular people on Twitter getting personalized tweets from the company they love. Thank you Macy’s for that great example of listening and democratized engagement.

How to Listen

We have now established the importance of listening and how it can create a more initiate relationship with your consumers. These same people expect you to do this and they expect you to be interacting with them. For some companies, this type of interaction can be daunting as it takes time, effort and resources. But hey, don’t worry about it. I’m sure your competition won’t be taking the time to go that extra mile.

Two Ways to Listen

1. Google Alerts: Google Alerts allows you to monitor the web for new content based on your queries. Simply login to the account and enter in keywords that you wish to “listen” to. Some samples of keywords worth paying attention to:

  • Your company name
  • Your competitors
  • Your name
  • Industry keywords

In the example below, we have chosen to set-up an alert for the word “Macy’s.” Now, every time the word “Macy’s” is mentioned online I will receive an email about it. Then I can choose to engage with the mention or not to engage.

2. Twitter Alerts: Twitter has become the crème da la crème of up-to-the-minute news, information or gossip. Use this platform to your advantage and set up tools for “listening” on Twitter. A great tool that we recommend is Twilert. With Twilert you can track keywords, Twitter accounts, or hashtags. You may also want to look into tools like Hootsuite to manage other social media accounts like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Pages, MySpace and others.


Once you have established a solid game plan for communicating via social networks tune it all up by following the Macy’s example of asking open-ended questions. Next thing to do is actively “listen” to the responses of your consumer base either by active involvement on the social media channels or by the monitoring tools mentioned above. Then, send personalized responses where you feel it is necessary and when you feel it would benefit your customers. In time this will elevate your reputation with consumers and improve their loyalty now and into the foreseeable future. “Listening” can be your fun, easy and inexpensive sort of public relations plan that keeps you involved in conversations about your business.