How to run a social media listening program — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Evan Perkins of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

10:15 —'s Lauren Clevenger introduces First Republic Bank's Kathleen Fetters.

10:16 — Kathleen: Building a social media listening program is a lot like cooking. You need to pick something appealing, collect and prepare your ingredient, and heat it all up before you serve your meal! In this presentation, we'll cover the “recipe” of a listening program.

10:17 — Kathleen: The recipe for a social listening program includes ingredients and steps. Ingredients are your key stakeholders, the right tools, and your proof of concept. Steps begin with determining who you are listening for.

10:18 — Kathleen: Step one, “Determine who you're listening for.” We usually say “the brand” but there is more to it! You need to know who your key stakeholders are and what's important to them. Perhaps it's marketing, customer service, PR or even the entire business.

10:20 — Kathleen: Step two is to “Identify the tools you can use.” There are lots of tools out there, and no one tool is the “Holy Grail” nor a “One Size Fits All” approach. In order to choose, know who you're listening for and also know your budget! This will help you eliminate some of what's out there. Also, know your volume and lastly realize if it will done in-house or if you will partner with a pro. service.

10:22 — Kathleen: Step three is “Define what your brand should measure.” Should it be reach? Sentiment? Engagement? Re-Tweets? It's more than just KPIs — perhaps it's about brand analysis, competitive analysis, etc. This is all about customization!

10:24 — Kathleen says each stakeholder has a different need and want for listening, and social media listening is your opportunity to deliver it.

10:26 — Kathleen: If you can listen well, you can participate in the conversation well.

10:27 — Kathleen: Step four, “Translate what you hear into actionable efforts.” This is not about creating a social media strategy, it's about using social media intelligence to enchant the strategies for the entire business.

10:28 — Kathleen: Social media ROI cannot be defined by the same terms as other channels, but when you have a direct mail piece that a customer tweets and it goes viral, there is potential to make sure you're involved in the online conversation.

10:29 — Kathleen: There is also a secret ingredient in listening strategies: Relationship building! Understanding your internal customers and their needs allows you to deliver them valuable insights that will lead to their success. Their success if YOUR success!

10:30 — Kathleen: There is no substitution for relationship, and it is by far the most important ingredient of a listening strategy.

Q & A

Q: Should we separate what we discover on our owned channels and what we find in other places (forums, blogs, etc.)?

A: Kathleen: For the most part I am looking externally. Our team does report about what's happening on our channel, but with listening we're trying to report out on what's happening in the rest of the world.

Q: How much time do you devote to your listening program? How do you report on that info?

A: Kathleen: I am an in-house listener so I do have a lot of time to login and see what's happening re: our brand. This takes an hour. I then spend another hour looking at the conversations happening around our top competitors. I refresh this throughout the day to see what's new. My advice would be to just plug in when you can. Prioritize what you're listening for and be focused. You can share value to the business and carve out some more time and resources for the project. Start small, prove value, and grow!

Q: How do you make the leap from monitoring internal channels to listening externally, competitive analysis, etc.?

A: Kathleen: With my previous company, a large F500 tech firm, I was trying to showcase what was happening with things like Google searches. “Hey, look at what people are saying! We're missing out on these opportunities because we're not involved at all.” Pointing this out to the top executives was helpful to get the wheels turning. That earned me a pilot and I was able to showcase all the potential.

Q: How do you select and refine what key terms you search on?

A: Kathleen: This goes back to knowing your audience and key stakeholders. You need to have an ongoing partnership with your units like HR, PR, marketing, etc. Ask them about the key language people use to talk about their side of the business. I help them discover what is junk and what is useful. There is definitely a constant refinement (almost daily refining).

Q: What's your advice for starting with a big question to showcase listening without opening the floodgates?

A: Kathleen: In a way you want the floodgates because it will grow advocacy internally, but you do need to level-set right off the bat. Tell them what you can give them “right now,” and once they see the one answer ideally they will want more. You can then turn it into an opportunity to gain more resources. I have used a play-to-play model, too! “Give me $10K and I can do XYZ for you.” It's a long-term game, though. No super easy answer.