Why you should always listen carefully on social media

One of the key aims of the Digital Action Plan is to broaden participants experience of digital tools, and the many ways they can be used. Social media is so much more than just broadcasting messages. As the name implies social media should be social and involve engaging, debating, and listening.

You can learn a lot from searching for your organisation and keywords for your area of work. Social media can be incredibly useful for finding out how people view a certain topic and what myths are circulating, helping you to shape your content in response.

Listening beyond notifications

Good digital search skills are vital. It isn’t enough to rely on notifications for comments made directly to your social media accounts as you’ll end up missing posts such as this one (mentioning the organisation but not using their Twitter handle), and lose the opportunity to reply, correct, or take conversations offline to be resolved.

West Jet are just one of many companies who search for mentions of their company name, hashtag, and issues affecting their business. They can then use the results as an opportunity to talk directly to their customers:

Listening for impact

Taking social listening a step further, some organisations are using the content people post on their personal social media channels to capture data about the impact their work is having and identify potential problems or concerns early on.

Earlier this year, The Food Standards Agency blogged about their partnership work with NHS Choices to analyse comments made on Twitter to predict norovirus outbreaks.

This example shows how effective use of social media can play a central role in achieving the Food Standard’s core objectives on public health.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are thinking about using social media in a similar way to the Food Standards Agency. Instead of relying on people reporting things to them, the CQC is proposing to actively search for people who are talking about concerns that need monitoring.

The importance of social media listened is underlined by its use in responses to emergencies around the world. For a good round-up of how established this has become, check out this NextGov article on social media listening in emergency responses.

Have you seen any good examples of social media listening?

There is so much content out there, finding ways to search for the content that is useful and can help with your organisation’s goals and priorities is incredibly useful. What could you find out from social listening?
Does your organisation do social media listening well? What other examples of social media listening have caught your eye? Please let us know by tweeting us @helpfuldigital or dropping us a line.