It’s now a reality that in 2012 Social Media is driving most of the world’s conversations about anything and everything. Because of today’s technology, it is now easy for everyone to communicate with everyone, anywhere.

So what is Social Media?

I’m sure that’s a question that has several different answers based on your opinion and what you’ve heard from others. The term is generally applied to tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. My simple definition is “Media that is Social” (a means of mass communications that helps you expedite being sociable).

We know that 75% of people online are on these content rich Social Media sites. With more and more people wanting to participate and be successful in this social space, everyone is looking for hidden rules of success. Unfortunately, there are no silver bullets. However, there are some principles behind the secrets of success. Over the next series of 10 blogs, I will explore some of these principles.

So, where to do you start?

Since these social sites (or new communications tools) can be valuable resources for numerous objectives, the first thing you’ll want to do is really identify what you are trying to achieve through using social media… What is your objective?

Whether you’re exploring for business or personal reasons, to be successful you need to be certain of your goal and objective before you start. If you have no specific reasons for using social media, you’ll spend a lot of time having very enjoyable experiences, but these will achieve nothing (unless that’s your objective). Remember social sites are just communications tools and as such with the proper application can be used effectively to achieve an objective.

One of the things about being sociable is that one listens. Listening has always been 50% of communication. So before you start engaging in any social media “talk”, start listening!

Social Media listening is the process of monitoring conversations that occur on social media sites. Your social media experience will be more successful if you actually listen to what a target audience is saying. It is a key component to social media success.

Whether you are in the process of starting to engage in social media, developing or executing a strategy, it is essential to know what your target audience is talking about. Listening can pave the way for meaningful conversations and listening is something you do throughout the process to increase engagement. Listening should never stop!

Getting started in listening is easier than you think. After you have clearly defined your objective, determine the topics that relate to your social media goal and identify them as potential keywords.

Using these keywords, here are just a few simple listening activities you can start with:

Analyze all the gathered conversational data and information and turn it into insight for developing potential social media strategies. The keywords you monitor will determine whether you are collecting valuable intelligence, or just gathering noise. Also you need to take into consideration someone’s personality type in order to listen well & comprehend of what’s said (don’t make any assumptions).

Social Media is a lot like listening to thousands of birds in one tree…  Just don’t venture under the tree.

In my next blogs, we will examine some powerful social media listening tactics and how to establish a listening strategy.

If you are in the Greater Toronto Area, join us for  Twitter “Unplugged” and revolutionize your entire approach to this powerful tool![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]