We don’t need to tell you that you need to be listening in social media, right? But perhaps you need a bit of help building out a listening program that’s sustainable, actionable, and actually helps you meet your business needs. Here’s a set of steps to take and questions to answer to round out your listening notions into a strategy you can execute on.

1. Decide On Focus Areas.

  • Are you listening just for your brand specifically?
  • What specific keywords and phrases are most important to you, and why?
  • What are your assumptions and expectations for what social media monitoring can help you learn or do?
  • Do you need to do competitive or industry analysis as well at this point?
  • What areas of the business can benefit most from understanding commentary and conversation on the social web?
  • Do you have particular initiatives or campaigns that you will track independently?

2. Articulate Your Goals & Measurements.

  • What are you hoping to accomplish with your social media monitoring program? Be specific, i.e. “we want to identify emerging customer service issues in social media and route them to our offline channels.”
  • By when?
  • What do you know now as a baseline or status quo in that area?
  • What constitutes success or forward progress toward your goal(s)?
  • What measurements can you track and measure to illustrate progress?
  • How do they relate to things you’re measuring in other business areas like customer service, marketing, product development?

3. Consider Resources

  • Who is going to be doing the social media monitoring?
  • What kind of training will they need? Tools?
  • Do you have front-line people dedicated to listening efforts, or are you working it into various job descriptions?
  • If you’re breaking it out into different roles, which topics/areas is each person responsible for monitoring?
  • How many hours can you dedicate to listening efforts per week? Per month?
  • What level of time and effort spent will indicate to you that you need more or fewer resources?

4.  Map Information Flow

  • Who needs to know what you’re finding through your social media monitoring?
  • How will you document your listening and monitoring procedures and workflow?
  • How will you get the listening insights to the appropriate team members?
  • What are you expecting other team members to do with that information once they have it?
  • How will you allow them to provide feedback to refine your listening efforts?

5. Illustrate Results & Next Steps

  • What key information will you report? When should the first report happen after you start your listening program?
  • To whom?
  • How often?
  • Who will review the results and be responsible for drawing conclusions based on the analysis?
  • How will you dictate action steps based on the results?

You probably have your own subtleties and specifics as you map out your listening strategy, but the point is to have a solid roadmap that tells you what you want from listening, how you’ll deploy the people and tools to make it happen, and how you’ll gather and act on the information you find.

What have you learned from your listening efforts? Share your insights with us in the comments.

image by judepics

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