Engagement in the Digital Age: The Importance of Listening

Engagement in the Digital Age: The Importance of Listening

On August 26th, 2008, the world of business changed forever. On that day, Facebook achieved 100 million registered users. For years prior, social media was seen as a bonus to traditional advertisement. The 100 million milestone, however, confirmed that it was inescapable.

Now, seven years later, this is truer than it’s ever been. Simply having a Facebook account for your business doesn’t cut it and, to be frank, it never did. Businesses have always had difficulty using social media, because they’ve tried to use it as traditional platforms. This simply isn’t effective, and usually ends up becoming a timesink. At Alliance Communications, we hate timesinks, and we hate to see genuinely good businesses flounder on social media. We’ve done the research for you, and have concluded that the best way small business can speak with customers is to listen.

Don’t Speak; Listen

While researching this article, I looked a number of different marketing blogs, opinion pieces, and features in big business magazines like Forbes and Small Company. After what felt like my hundredth article, I had learned two things:

  1. The only prerequisite to being a “Social Media Guru” is the ability to type.
  2. Social media gurus are insane.

I looked at several dozen schedules billed for small businesses and each one was more demanding than the last. The basic gist seems to be that you need to tweet 4-6 times each hour, post to Facebook and Google+ at least twice a day, but up to five times, and LinkedIn “only” needs one or two posts each day.

Really? Let me answer my own question: no. Unless you are a major corporation whose updates are vital to clients (such as a large hosting company), or you offer a public service (e.g. a police force reporting crimes), there is no reason to fill up your wall with inane comments and unfunny puns. A 2013 study reports that, no matter how draconian their post schedule, over 60% of small businesses have seen no return on investment from social media. Why is that?

Because, as social advertising kingpin Ted Rubin says, “Small business owners are being told social can generate leads and bring in new customers, so they often consider it as another direct marketing vehicle”. This simply isn’t the case. Instead of slathering your page in promotional material, Rubin suggests you, “Listen for people who are complaining about their current service providers. Those are leads worth pursuing.”

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