10 Tips For Being A Better Listener On Twitter

Social listening is the modern marketing practice of staying constantly attuned to your customers, fans, and followers, leveraging their free insight into your brand or business and engaging in a two-way social dialogue.

Twitter is a rich resource for social listening, with millions of conversations proliferating daily across the network about a wide range of companies and brands. A great place to start, if you’re interested in fine-tuning your listening, is with Mention.net, a free (up to a point) service that’s like Google Alerts on steroids.

But that’s just the beginning. For 10 solid tips on how to be a better listener on Twitter, keep reading.

Eric Jacobson, a leadership and management blogger, recently wrote a post expounding 10 tips on how to be a better listener in order to improve your leadership skills. I’d like to adapt those 10 great tips into rules of thumb for improving your online listening skills, on Twitter specifically.

Here we go (read Eric’s original post here):

1. Look at the person who’s speaking to you. Maintain eye contact.

Make it work on Twitter: So, obviously you can’t make eye contact with people over the Twitters, but you can do so figuratively. Give each of your followers their fair due, treating each RT, mention, favorite, and DM with the respect that you would those interactions in person.

2. Watch for non-verbal clues, body language, gestures and facial expressions.

Make it work on Twitter: The Twitter equivalent of hand gestures, facial expressions, and the like are the accoutrements to tweets; think links, attached photos, videos, and gifs; and the conversational context in which tweets are happening. As a community manager, I’ve often found brand mentions as simple appearances in photos, with no accompanying text (let alone Twitter handle). That doesn’t make those mentions any less important.

3 Eliminate all distractions. Don’t multi-task.

Make it work on Twitter: Quit the multi-tasking and pay attention to each tweet you’re reading, when you’re trying to absorb valuable intel from your fans and followers. It can be hard on Twitter to spend the extra few nanoseconds and actually read carefully through all 140 characters, but just do it. You’ll be surprised at how much more information you absorb – the tweeter’s implied tone of voice, who retweeted their tweet, who they @-mentioned in the tweet, and more.

4. Ask questions that let the other person know you have heard them, and that you want to learn more.

Make it work on Twitter: This is probably the most important tip in bettering your Twitter listening skills. If you don’t actively engage with your followers, you’re doing the Internet equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling mumbo-jumbo. Whether the feedback is positive, negative, or neutral, acknowledge the action and make it an interaction. Here’s a great example from Evian Water on Facebook, and another from Warby Parker on Twitter.

5. Don’t interrupt.

Make it work on Twitter: Simple: don’t butt into a conversation on Twitter tactlessly, especially on behalf of a brand or business. As we shared earlier this year, 43% of respondents in a consumer survey said they think companies listening in on social media invades consumers’ privacy. You want to be helpful and attentive, not creepy and annoying.

6. Don’t finish the other person’s sentences.

Make it work on Twitter: Although the speed with which new tweets populate your Twitter stream can make it seem like operating lightning-fast is the only way to stay afloat on Twitter, it’s ok to take a breather in the midst of your interactions. You’ll want to put a digital bookmark in any conversations that are left unfinished – social CRM services like SocialBro can help with that – but it’s better to give each customer time to respond before walloping them with three tweets in a row.

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