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Best Practices for Social Listening on Twitter

So you’ve got the basics of Twitter down pat. You follow influential marketers and industry leaders. You tweet links to your new blog posts and white papers. You and Larry (that’s the name of the Twitter bird—who knew?) are pretty much best friends.

Now that you’ve established yourself on Twitter, what are the next steps you can take to really excel on this microblogging platform? Let’s take a look at how you can use social listening on Twitter to delight your current customers and generate more leads.

What is social listening?

Social listening, also referred to as social media monitoring, is the act of tracking chatter about relevant topics on social media. Social listening is crucial if you want to keep up to date with your industry and your client base. Scrolling through your Twitter timeline isn’t enough, though; you want to listen to steady, focused conversations, not a barrage of tweets about any and every topic. That’s why your business needs a social media listening tool to streamline the process.

How to use social listening

First, decide which social media monitoring tool is best for your brand. At Pardot, we use ExactTarget’s Radian6 + Buddy Media Social Studio because of its advanced listening and reporting capabilities, but there are also plenty of free tools that get the job done. TweetDeck is an excellent, free application for social monitoring.

Once you’ve chosen your social listening tool and connected your Twitter account, you’re ready to get started. Set up streams of tweets that mention specific keywords that relate to your brand, your competitors, and your industry. For example, I like to follow conversations about marketing automation, so that’s an obvious keyphrase—but I also want to see what people are saying about related topics, so I set up keyword streams for phrases like “lead generation,” “B2B marketing,” and “email marketing.”

Advanced streams

Basic keyword streams are useful, but what if you want to go more in depth? I recommend making sure you don’t miss any important conversations by setting up the following more advanced keyword streams.

Your Brand + Customer Service

Not everyone who needs your help on Twitter will tag your company in their tweets. Set up keyword streams for phrases including your brand name plus words like “help,” “support,” and “customer service.”

Your Brand + Your Competitors

This is a great way to get a feel for your competitive landscape in more human terms than market share. Just refrain from jumping into the conversation. You’re here to listen and gain valuable insight, not to badmouth the competition.

Your Industry + People Seeking Advice

70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, while only 15% trust social posts directly from brands (Forrester Research). A lot of professionals turn to their Twitter networks for advice about services and products, so this keyword search is a goldmine of prospects. Set up keyword streams that include mentions of your industry and words like “recommend,” “recommendation,” and “advice.”

While you may not want to tweet at someone who’s asking for advice directly from your company account, you can pass their tweet along to your sales team and have someone reach out with a link to customer testimonials or information about a product demo.

When to respond

Remember, social listening isn’t really about your brand. First and foremost, it’s about your clients and prospects.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

― Stephen R. Covey

Don’t “listen” on Twitter with the sole purpose of replying to promote your business. Instead, you should listen in order to monitor trends, hear customers’ questions and complaints, and understand your industry landscape.

For example, don’t tweet a link to your new blog post at anyone who mentions your industry. That’s the online equivalent of interrupting a stranger’s conversation on the street to brag about yourself. Not cool. Instead, only respond to people who are actively asking questions, voicing concerns, or talking about your company.

What are some keywords you monitor on social media to stay on top of things? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments!