How to use Twitter to listen (and learn)

Twitter listen

Every day, 500 million tweets are sent into the Twittersphere. That’s a lot of words, even at 140 characters or less. Whether or not your content marketing strategy has you contributing your own tweets to the millions, you should be using Twitter. Not to talk. To listen.

Somewhere in those 500 million tweets is information that can be incredibly useful for your business. So take some time every day to hear what’s going on. There’s a lot you can learn from Twitter. If you aren’t already, it’s time to listen to:

What people are saying about you

Do you know when people are talking about you on Twitter? You should. Large companies don’t always have the luxury of responding to each and every tweet (typically, they’ll respond to the negative), but if you’re a small business and someone writes something about your company on Twitter, you’d be foolish to ignore it. Whether it’s a compliment or a complaint, you should be there to address it. If it’s positive, you can let your customer know you appreciate the love. If it’s negative, you’ve been given a unique opportunity to resolve the issue.
[Tweet “Do you know when people are talking about you on Twitter? You should. “]
After all, the unhappy customer could have just gone home and told everyone they knew that your company is horrible, slow, untrustworthy—whatever the issue might be. Instead, they’ve taken to Twitter. This means you can find out what they’re saying. While at first that might seem worse (they can tell more people in 30 seconds on Twitter then they ever could in real-life conversation), it’s not. You can now choose to react and resolve the issue, in a conversation that customer and their followers can see. It’s not always the mistakes that define a brand, but a brand’s reaction to them. Being responsive and compassionate can turn a situation around. Show everyone that your brand listens, cares, and follows through.
Best ways to listen: You can see all tweets where others have mentioned you in your “Mentions” tab— Twitter allows you to receive email notifications of these, so turn that feature on in order to be aware of conversations about you as quickly as possible. You can also use the Twitter search bar to search for your company name in case you weren’t officially mentioned (using the @ symbol) in a tweet.

What people are saying about your industry

Knowing what your customers and your industry are talking about can give you great insight on what’s important to them, what they could use education on— and how you might be able to help. By monitoring what’s popular, you might find an idea for your next blog post or uncover an opportunity to hold an educational event on a topic you’ve seen a lot of buzz about. Following key influencers in your industry can also be helpful— they’re either aware of the latest trends or creating them. You can keep on top of the latest trends and determine how your company offerings can align with what’s popular right now.
Best ways to listen: Twitter as well as services such as HootSuite and TweetDeck allow you to set up custom lists (also called “streams”) of people or hashtags you want to follow, making it easy to organize and monitor. is a great site that allows you to see hashtags that are currently trending. A great companion to that is WTHashtag, where you can look up a hashtag to find out what it is and why it’s trending. You might also find Twellow useful— it allows you to search for users by category and location (particularly useful for finding key influencers in your area). A Twellow account will also make it easier for people to find you, so go ahead and add yourself to their directory while you’re at it.

What people are saying about your competition (and what your competition is saying about themselves)

Keeping tabs on your competition is a smart business practice in general, and is another area that Twitter makes pretty easy for you. While I’m not suggesting using Twitter to poach clients, it can help you further understand any weak spots they have and use them to capitalize on a strong point of yours. It can also be helpful to see the strategies your competitors are using on Twitter.
Best ways to listen: Again, the Twitter search bar and lists should be your go-to’s here. Use the search bar to search for mentions of each company. Find your competition, then set up a stream to follow them— again, this will make it easy to quickly peruse what’s going on.
So go ahead and spend a few minutes each day listening (and hopefully you’ll love what you hear!).
What are your favorite listening tactics and tools for Twitter? Share them with us in the comments below.


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