I love people watching. Can’t help it. When I’m in large public venues or other events, I can’t help but watch what people are doing around me.
I have a similar problem when it comes to social media. I love browsing through my Facebook wall, my Twitter feed, Google+ page and just look at people. What are they talking about? What are they saying? What are they sharing? Although it could get out of hand quickly.
Do you realize that as a business you should be doing this too? What are your customers doing online? What are they talking about? What are they interested in that probably has nothing to do with your product or service?
The reason you should pay attention to these channels, people watch and ask these questions is because you want to find your audience. I believe many times businesses look at their website or social media presence and expect the audience to just come to them. You may have this great venue. You may put on a great show. You might have wonderful information to share or even an unbelievably helpful product you sell. But let me let you in on a little secret… you ready?
The World Doesn’t Owe You An Audience
You may have the right to free speech, but that doesn’t mean you have the right to an audience. You’ve got to go out and find your audience. Today, using social media tools, you have that opportunity at your finger tips.
I’ve been a fish geek the majority of my life. Since starting college I haven’t had my own aquarium setup for quite awhile. That’s about to change and now I’m using social media to build up a list of people to follow and potentially engage with as I re-enter this hobby of mine.
A quick Twitter search gave me a list of Tweets where “aquarium” was mentioned, or I can switch over to the People tab and see people’s (and businesses’) bios where “aquarium” was mentioned. Also listed were photos and videos related to my search term.
Moving over to Facebook, I can already see the power of Graph Search being played out. I entered the term “aquariums” and immediately got a page back with the top result being an “Interest” of “Aquariums” but below that I was presented with sections for “Photos of my friends and Aquariums” and “Posts by my friends about Aquariums” and then “Related Pages” (which actually wasn’t quite as helpful).
Google+ makes searching and connecting very easy. But you’d kind of expect that given they’re an
advertising search engine. My same search term of “aquariums” provides me with a breakdown of the following:
- People and Pages
- Google+ Posts
I can then break those down further into options for:
- From my Circles
- From me
- To me
- From a specific location
You can also use Google Alerts to enter keywords and phrases and be notified when those keywords or phrases generate hits through different media: News, Blogs, Video, Discussions, Books.
When you get a hit you can decide how frequently you want to be notified and whether or not you want to receive an email or have it delivered to you in an RSS feed into your preferred feed reader.
Translate, Rinse and Repeat for Your Business
For this example I’ve used a hobby and interest of mine. But for you and your business you may need to do similar searches for products, services, individuals. Again, ask yourself the questions of what might your customers be looking for online. Or, what are your existing customers already doing online (do you have them organized into groups for managing on your own social networks? You should!).
Now that you know what’s being shared and talked about join the conversation. Engage the community, and not just to sell or market something. Be a contributer. Be helpful. Even if you may not get anything in return in the immediate future. The world and your customers will thank you for it.