Written by Joel Basa
eMarketing Manager
Xerox Corporation

I still can’t believe it has been nearly a month since drupa 2012 ended! Time flies! I was fortunate enough to have experienced this great event and learned so much about the current state of the print industry and the exciting future that lies ahead.

I, along with Andy Hill and Christina Klos, manned the Social Media Café. Here we had over 130+ Social Clinics. These were 1:1 sessions with attendees and gave them advice on how to start or mature their social media practice within their own business.

Let’s pause for 2 seconds for you to answer a question we asked many of our customers in Germany: Where would you begin if you wanted to start practicing social media for your business? If you were like the majority of people we spoke with you probably gave an answer like: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. They are not wrong answers necessarily but maybe not the best answer. The one answer I failed to hear while I was at drupa was social listening.

In our opinion, social listening is step 1 of any social media practice for a business. The basic concept is, “Listen before you speak.” So before you start a Facebook Channel or Twitter Handle, take the first and most critical step….LISTEN! Listening involves gaining insight on what your industry and customers are currently discussing and knowing where they are discussing it. You may find there may be conversation about your own business already. It gives you the foundation for content creation for your social channels and more opportunities to converse online.

So, how do you get started with Social Listening? First, think of keywords associated with your business (similar to SEO). Examples include: your business name, your product and service names, your company executives, your geography, your industry, and your competitors. Once you have these keywords, there are a variety of tools that are available to start your listening. We recommend starting with something like Google Alerts. You can also search specific channels such as Twitter.

Does your print business practice social listening? Share your thoughts.