You have read everything regarding the hype of social media and you have a fairly good understanding of the words Tweet, blog, Web 2.0, micro blogging and social networking. Where and how do you start your Social Media Marketing (SMM) initiative? What is going to be your first step? Getting a blog? Engaging on networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or YouTube?

Before you jump into any of these social media tools and channels, setup listening tools first to understand what is being said about your brand, company, your key executives or just to view what is the “buzz” online at the moment. It is important that you will need to understand how people are feeling towards your brand before you start to engage with your customers and any future prospects.

What voices in your industry and niche are the most influential? On what social media channels are you going to establish your presence to target where the active discussion are taking place? These questions should always be asked before you start with any Social Media Marketing (SMM) initiative.

What is being said?

By monitoring “what is being said” allows your company to respond and be pro active to any complaints in as little as 10 minutes after they have been posted online. By actively viewing and monitoring any social media involvement about your company can develop a strong reputation of reaching out to help your customers. By responding quickly to negative and positive criticism, you are more likely to convert bad complaints into product evangelists.

Social media monitoring tools to help you monitor your market

  • SaidWot: An innovative Media & Brand Monitoring, Online Reputation Management & Strategy Tool. This is a paid service.
  • Trackur: This tool monitors all the major search engines and the entry price starts at $18 per month.
  • Brandwatch: This tool combines alerts with data analysis. Paid and free options available.
  • Buzzmonitor: This is an open source social media aggregator module for Drupal that you can host on your own web server. This software is free.
  • Google Alerts: This tool by Google lets you track specific keyword and key phrase mentions and it’s delivered straight to your inbox as soon as it happens. This is a free service.
  • uberVU – Monitor your company, follow competitors, connect with customers and fans. Free 15 trial.
  • SocialMention – Real-time social media search and analysis. Free

By listening at the “buzz” online should always be your first step when plunging into any SMM campaign as this can help you on where to start and what is happening at the moment. What is the “buzz” in your industry? Have a listen.