I get it! There's a whole lot of conversations happening on social channels but you're just not sure how to approach them and what tools you should use.

In this post, I share 4 quick and easy steps to help you make the most of social media conversations. If you haven't yet, I'd recommend defining the goals you're trying to achieve while using social media as well as picking the right tools to help you accomplish those.  In order to understand the 4 steps better, I will walk you through an example where your goal is to get more leads through social media: 

Step 1: Shhh….. listen first.

Just like any conversation with a friend, spouse or significant other, you must listen first before you respond. Failing to do so could result in potentially a slap in the face, if not something worse (unhappy customers). We don't want that! So to avoid any issues, listen first in order to identify what's going on. Based on our goal of increasing sales leads, you might listen for things like the volume of conversations surrounding your industry while also including the words "looking for" or "you recommend." You could also identify trending topics to just get a better grasp on what's hitting the mark for your community.  This step is going to give you a great foundation for the next 3 steps so don't skip it. 

Step 2: Now let's analyze.

Alright! You've been listening to all the conversations relating to your goal of increasing sales leads and now you want to take it a step further. It's time to analyze those conversations and figure out what it all really means to you. In the previous step, you found a bunch of conversations around trending topics as well as ones that included key "buying" terms. Now you can dig deeper and find out where the conversations are taking place geographically, what social channels are they happening on, and who's actually talking. Once you've been able to analyze the data important to you, this will enable you to make some very educated decisions and to take action. For example, if the conversations are happening a lot on Twitter and tend to come from New South Wales, you know where to focus your sales efforts.

Step 3: Join the conversation.

Go get'em social guru. You know what's being talked about, you know how it relates to your goals, and now you can join in to the social conversations. There's definitely an art form to this and when it comes to generating leads, this art form needs to be practiced a lot. It's probably not wise to just come out and tell someone to sign up for your service or fill out a form. That's like being the cheesy car salesmen who right form the get go, tries to sell you the newest, sexiest car without even taking into consideration what you want. Don't be that person, you won't have much success. Try this approach, admit you have a biased opinion first, share something that is truly helpful based on what they're looking for, and let them review for a few days. The 80/20 rule applies here. 80% about them and 20% about your product or service. 

Step 4: Show me the numbers!

Now comes the very last step in this wonderful four-tip extravaganza. You've listened, analyzed, and taken part in the conversations. It's now time to show how well you did with reaching your goals. Since our goal throughout this post was to generate more leads from social, you could show things like number of form completes, blog visits, lead conversation rates or even brand mentions. I'd recommend using custom shortened links per each channel you're active on. What I mean is if you're pushing for more leads on a particular product, have a custom link that you share on Twitter, a different custom link that you share on LinkedIn etc. That way you can see which ones are performing the best.

That's it, you're now off and running to a great start!