The art of listening and responding on social media

Your social media phone is ringing; are you picking it up to answer? (photo of telephones at NE Texas Rural Heritage Museum, Pittsburg, TX by Sheila Scarborough)

Your social media phone is ringing; are you picking it up to answer? (photo of telephones at NE Texas Rural Heritage Museum, Pittsburg, TX by Sheila Scarborough)

When people tag your destination, attraction or hotel on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+, when they send a tweet that refers to your “@” name on Twitter, when they create a blog post that links to you …. we say that’s the social media telephone ringing.

No one would ignore a visitor on the phone or a guest standing at the front desk or in the Visitor Center, so it should not happen on social media, either. Unfortunately we see social mentions all the time that no one is responding to, including our own tweets, tags, blog posts, etc. when we travel.

What do we mean when we talk about listening and responding online?

We mean that organizations must monitor their social media channels and respond when spoken to; it seems pretty obvious, but it does not happen nearly as often as you’d expect.

Here is an example of listening and responding from this week, as Sheila “spoke” to the AAA (American Automobile Association) during her Foursquare checkin to an amusement park, which she sent to Twitter.

Screenshot of good AAA customer service response on Twitter re: Six Flags tickets.

Screenshot of good AAA customer service response on Twitter re: Six Flags tickets.

Doesn’t look that complicated, does it? She tweeted, mentioned an organization by name, and they answered.

Folks, if this was standard procedure among CVBs, DMOs, and hotels today, we would not be talking about it in this newsletter. It is much less common than you’d think, and we should not be saying that halfway through 2013.

Not many of us can afford a staff for listening and responding on social media. There are lots of one- or two-person operations out there, but that is not a deterrent to providing good customer service to visitors and guests. Between your smartphone, your computer, and free monitoring tools/dashboards like TweetDeck and HootSuite, you can rock your online world.

The key is making sure that your notifications are ON and set up properly. By that, we mean to make sure you’re notified (via an app or email) when someone responds to you or interacts with you. That way you don’t always have to be checking on what’s happening; you’ll know as soon as someone interacts with you.

As the lone person setting up a brand-new DMO right now in California, Leslie spends quality time with TweetDeck (on her desktop) and Hootsuite (on her phone) over her early morning coffee. Once she hits the ground running, she lives off the phone. Sheila even runs Twitter chats and participates in Google+ Hangouts from her phone. Set up a listening system and assign responsibilities to your team, so that you don’t miss those social media “phone calls.”

You can also monitor and respond to certain hashtags and keywords from whichever dashboard you choose; the Seattle, Washington CVB monitors mentions of “Pike Place Market” on Twitter because so many visitors go there. The CVB responds to specific mentions but also reaches out proactively to offer people help; they can do all that because they know how to listen online.

(Want to know more about how to listen and respond on social media? Lesson One from our online course in social media for tourism covers that in detail, and includes tips and video from the Seattle CVB.)

We’re happy to help you, so drop us a line!

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Commenting area

  1. I’ve developed a lot of great relationships online with CVBs and DMOs who found me when I’ve mentioned them or tagged them with a notice when I’ve done a story about them or asked them questions about a location I wish to write about or photograph. …But lack of listening or response is my #1 complaint when it comes to certain CVBs and DMOs
    When I make the effort to let someone know about something online I think would interest them, especially if it’s content I’ve produced about them, and the organization doesn’t respond…I’m left to conclude that they don’t care or appreciate it. Further…if they fail to reply or allow me any way to easily contact them privately, it also makes it difficult for me to get the information I many need to develop stories.
    I love the folks who “get” the “social” in social media rather then concentrating on their media channels as solely broadcast media.

    • You’re comment is right on target Dominique! The more people talk about the importance of responding, the more it is brought to the forefront as an absolute necessity in terms of a successful social strategy, the more responsive everyone will become. Social media is a conversation, no one likes talking to a wall whether it’s a real one or a virtual one. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  2. Sheila, great post on brand reputation monitoring. It’s so important for brands yet few get it right. Spot on!

    • Hi Milena,

      Thanks very much; Leslie and I thought it was important to point out that the ball was getting dropped too often on something very basic. We’re asked all the time about responding to negative stuff, but the real problem is ignoring the GOOD things that people are saying!

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