Stop, Look, & Listen – Good Social Media Baby Steps
There comes a moment of consensus and decision to take the leap. But just as one’s toes reach the edge of the cliff, options paralysis sets in leaving the decision of which direction to jump a complete mystery. Many will use this as a cue to step back from the cliff and do nothing at all. What was moments ago an invigorating plan to take things boldly into the future becomes an overly cautious and guarded return to the past.
There is simple way to ease oneself over the cliff, and to avoid avoiding the adventure ahead. In fact, no one generally succeeds in social media by throwing everything at the wall all at once. A measured approach is often the most intelligent and cost effective means by which any company begins using social media productively. That easy first step? Just listen.
That’s it. You barely even need to lay your hands on your keyboard. Your mouse will do quite nicely. Just go exploring a bit in the land of social media. You don’t even need to participate right away (as important as interaction will obviously become later on). Just do some passive research for a while. Thirty minutes here and there. There need be no rush. Rushing will just send you running from the cliff edge again anyway.
Call it research. Call it listening. One of the easiest things you can do without sticking your neck out at all is to take a look at conversations related to topics you find interesting and relevant. There are countless tools out there which will allow you to monitor the conversations occurring in your space. You can track brand names, products, hobbies, or anything at all, and simply observe what is being said.
Here are a few tools that are intuitive to use, and can help you discover what, if anything, is being talked about:
Collecta is a pretty cool search engine that monitors real time posts across blogs, Twitter, and more. It can expose you to everything from casual conversations to blatant advertising going on related to your search terms. It can also lead you to interesting content around the web. Check out the search options which allow you to narrow your results in interesting ways.
TwazzUp is Twitter search engine, but with an interesting variety of result sets. Not only showing you who is saying what about your search phrase, it also ranks web content relevant to your search and shows how much Twitter activity it’s getting.
TweetVolume allows you to track how many times any phrase has appeared in Twitter since its inception. Good for judging the overall popularity of topics and the slight variations of how people are talking about stuff (note the difference between the phrases “social media,” and “socialmedia”). While it doesn’t allow you to narrow search by a date range, it is still quite insightful in learning what topics have “buzz.”
Google Blog Search Okay, this one might seem like a no brainer, but if you haven’t explored it yet, it is worth some play. It’s essentially Google, but restricted to the content appearing specifically in blogs.
So go exploring. By first studying or listening to some of the conversations going on out there, you can gain an appreciation for where you might fit in when you get more comfortable actually participating in the dialogue of social media.