Good social media practice requires a balance of sharing good, useful information, and listening to what others are saying to you and about you.
“If you listen, you may learn something new.”—Dalai Lama
“Social Listening” is a fairly new term and strategy for those using social media to connect and engage with their communities. The idea is to monitor various social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) beyond your own page or feed for mentions of your ‘brand’ or ‘handle’—negative or positive.
By doing this, it allows you to understand the connection (or the disconnect) your followers may have with your engagement efforts. If you’re getting a lot of likes and shares of your posts, that’s great. But it’s not really telling you if you’re meeting the needs of your constituents, or how your constituents are perceiving you and your message.
For government, it’s not only a way of learning what users feel about your community, but your policies and programs, as well. Scanning social media for mentions of your latest tax proposal or development plan will help to inform how well your message got out to the public, and how it was received.
Who’s Sounding Off?
To get the most from social listening, it’s important to take an organized, systematic approach. And using available data tools can conserve resources and make your efforts more effective.
The best way to start is by determining what it is you want to achieve. Is this just to see how a single topic is received, or will this be an ongoing part of your social and planning strategy? What kind of data will be needed, and how much? Will this be a short-term monitoring period, or longer?
As with any project, good upfront management will make it more successful. And there are many good resources available online to help you get started.
Hear From the Experts
The following is a list of articles that delve more deeply into social listening, the tools available, and suggestions for how to begin.