Hush up and listen: How to cut through the social media chatter

Before you speak in the social media world, you must first learn to listen. Here's how to tune in effectively.
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Apr 22, 2010

Editor's note: This is the fourth in 12-article series.

Have you ever been to a cocktail party and met people who did nothing but talk and talk about themselves? How did you respond to these people? Probably by escaping from their circle as quickly as possible then avoiding them the rest of the evening.

Apply that line of thinking to social media. The participants who do nothing but talk about themselves—broadcasting their events, news, and good fortune—are creating the same situation they’d find themselves in at a cocktail party: Everyone stops listening and avoids them.

To be a successful social media participant, you must first learn to listen. Listening is one of the most important aspects of communication. In order to truly interact with others in the social media venue, you must hear what they’re saying. How do you cut through all the noise? By using these tactics:

Using Google Alerts: The first thing you should do is create Google Alerts for yourself and your practice. This free, easy–to-use service will send you a condensed e-mail each night reporting all mentions of the keywords you request. I suggest you program Google Alerts for your practice’s full name, as well as the names of each veterinarian on staff. If people are mentioning your doctors or the practice—with good or bad comments—you’ll know about it within 24 hours.

Using Social Mention: Similar to Google Alerts, this free service is offered at socialmention.com. This program scans all forms of social media and sends you e-mail alerts whenever your chosen keywords—again, practice name and doctor names—are mentioned.

Retweeting on Twitter: When you retweet (noted by RT) on Twitter, you re-broadcast a message someone else posted, indicating your support of what they had to say. Simply retweeting a few posts goes a long way in showing others in the social media world that you are listening.

Monitoring your mentions on Twitter: Pay attention to who’s speaking to you—or about you—on Twitter by clicking on the “@yourname” button. You can also do this by using free tools like Tweetdeck or Hootsuite. These programs help you organize your Tweets and allow you to view columns of mentions, as well as to create categories of people you follow, such as veterinarians, clients, or even pets.

Remember, before you start posting to Twitter and Facebook and sites all over the World Wide Web, take a few moments to listen. You’ll be a much more effective social media speaker when you do.

Brenda Tassava, CVPM, CVJ, is a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and author of "Social Media for Veterinary Professionals." She's been a social media enthusiast since her teenage daughter introduced her to Facebook in late 2008. Tassava quickly saw the enormous potential and began learning all she could about the social media world. Today, she manages multiple Twitter and Facebook fan pages, including those for Broad Ripple Animal Clinic and Wellness Center, Bark Tutor School for Dogs, and Canine Colors. She also volunteers her time to assist in managing the VHMA and CVPM Facebook Fan pages. She will present on social media at the 2011 CVC in San Diego.

Also in this series
Article 1:
Making social media worth the time and effort
Article 2: 5 basic rules of social media
Article 3: Creating a social media strategy: Step 1—set goals
Article 4: Hush up to cut through the social-media chatter
Article 5: Join the conversation, start with Twitter and Facebook
Article 6: Converse with clients through Twitter
Article 7: 6 tips for blogging to clients
Article 8: 4 keys to Facebook for veterinary practices
Article 9: Want Facebook success? Use data to know your fans
Article 10: Put your practice on YouTube. Here's why—and how
Article 11: Mobile apps—the future is now for your practice
Article 12: Social media: You're doing it, but are you managing it?