The importance of listening to your social media channels

One of the traps we fell into when dipping our social media toes was to think purely about publishing.

It’s what Archant has done for generations and, to be fair, we’re pretty good at it.

So when Facebook brand pages came along (I’m not even going to go near those initial practises of setting up a brand as a ‘person’) we thought what a great way to publish more links to our web content.

Then came the magical idea of creating RSS feeds to populate those pages. Fantastic, job done. We could just sit back and watch the referral traffic to our websites rise.

Not only that, but Facebook users love to like, share and comment on posts. Great! They’ll start doing it on our automated posts as well. This just keeps getting better.

Obviously, the startling leap in web traffic and awesome comments didn’t materialise. We started to get wiser; to get our heads around what these new-fangled platforms were.

And what are they? They’re places for people to connect and interact.

This week, I’ve read pieces describing Facebook as a party and social media as a cocktail party or town square. And you wouldn’t turn up to a party and begin to shout in the hope that someone might eventually choose to listen to you. (You might do that in the town square but you’d probably end up being driven away in the back of a police car)

So, how does this apply to activity within Archant? Well, here are a couple of examples of how we’re listening and then even using it to generate extra content.

The first example took place last Friday evening via the @EDP24 Twitter account.

We’d been asked to look out how we could generate some extra print sales via our social media accounts.

We agreed on a strategy and began to implement it but it soon became apparent that our tweets were failing to hit the right chord.

I could embed a whole conversation between a few @EDP24 followers (if the embed server was working) and the account itself but it would go on for too long. The gist was that the promotional style posts were not appreciated.

“You have to earn your place in a timeline” said the excellent @Brays_Cottage, who is absolutely spot on.

Responding through the @EDP24 account, I thanked the followers for their feedback and my line manager and I had a conversation about the posts on Monday.

I don’t think the promotional message was the problem – it was the fact that they were written in a ‘Super Soaraway Sun’ style which isn’t a genuine method of interacting.

Hopefully, we’ve learned our lesson and it proves just how important it is for brand accounts to listen as it is to publish. You don’t simply push, push, push through your individual account so why should your brand account be any different? It’s still taking up the same space in a newsfeed or a timeline so it most definitely does have to work at earning that space.

The second example is of how we’ve used audience comments to generate extra content. A particularly engaging Facebook post will be cause for a decent debate so why not share that debate on our own websites?

The recent planning application by supermarket chain Morrisons in north Norwich generated some good comments so we did this with them. Well worth it, even if it did receive the perfectly-crafted response from ‘biglingers’, one of our lovely, lovely website commenters šŸ˜‰

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