Good grief! With over a billion people on Facebook and other sites like Twitter and Pinterest growing at a breakneck pace, how on earth are you ever supposed to find the right people to engage as a business? Even if you have your target demographics fine-tuned down to the perfect set of customer profiles, trying to find them among the endless sea of users is a daunting task, to say the very least.

Except it’s really not. In fact, it is so incredibly easy that once you understand the “secret” to finding them you may feel silly for getting overwhelmed.

 

Don’t Wait for Them to Find You

Just because you build it doesn’t mean they are going to come. If you think that creating an awesome product or service is going to guarantee you customers, you are sadly mistaken. There is a large group of creators who have been blessed with possibly some of the best ideas to ever be manifested but have eventually found themselves destitute and despondent, because they thought that the masses would come running when they heard about what was now available.

The problem, in most cases, is that they never did hear about it. Stop for just a moment and try to wrap your head around the sheer amount of established businesses and startups that are out there competing for business today. If that’s too much for your brain to process, try to consider simply one area or segment of the business world. You’d still be hard pressed to even number the competitors. The bottom line is that if you don’t actively and regularly seek out your target audience, someone else will.

Before you get completely depressed, take a breath. The modern world has provided you with tools to gain ground even as the competition keeps growing.

 

The Digital Wizard Behind the Curtain

The good news is that you don’t have to know how to program or understand complicated algorithms to stay in the game. There are plenty of others out there who are more than willing to do that hard work for you, and you can reap the benefits for an extremely minimal and affordable cost. All you really need in order to compete is the will, a fire in your gut to keep going, and a high quality social media dashboard.

The will means that you really want to succeed, the fire in your gut will drive you on when the chips are down – and everyone has good times and bad – and the dashboard is the magic provided by the digital wizards that will provide the tools necessary to put your will and drive into action. All you really need to know, apart from how to interact with people in an online platform, is what to look for.

Being a Watchman

Those who stood on watchtowers in ages past were required to be vigilant in spotting both strangers and friends who approached their village or kingdom. They had to engage them to determine whether they belonged there and if they would be welcome.

You need to be a modern-day watchman, but with a more comprehensive mission: you not only need to identify those who approach, but to seek out those who are in accord with your village’s purpose. In other words, to find and identify your target customers.

Thankfully, not only do you not have to stand watch outside in the weather, you also can get results without having to do all of the work yourself. In the world of social media management and marketing, this task is easily accomplished through one of the most basic yet powerful tools available to us: monitoring.

Using monitoring software gives you much more than just the ability to find people talking about your brand or your niche of product or service, but I’ll deal with some more “guerilla” tactics in an upcoming blog. For now, let’s revisit the basics.

 

You, Them, and It

The first three things that you want to make sure you have set up for ongoing, consistent monitoring are:

1. Your Brand Name

This should be pretty obvious, but don’t forget any variations that people may use. For instance, if your business is Frank’s Frankfurters, you would monitor for the following keywords (at a minimum): Frank’s, Franks, frankfurters, frankfurter, Franks frankfurters, and Frank’s frankfurters. Like I said, pretty obvious.

2. Your Competitors’ Brand Names

Here’s where you start to branch out a bit, and in the upcoming post I’ll give you some great ideas for how you can use these to your advantage. Possible keywords could be Oscar Mayer, Applegate, Schaller & Weber, Niman Ranch Fearless, Boar’s Head, Kirkland, Dietz & Watson, Hebrew National, Trader Joe’s, and of course, Nathan’s. Once you apply the logic used in variations from your own brand, you can see that you’re now looking at adding – Oh, I don’t know. A zillion? – more keywords to your monitoring regimen. (for the record, I had to search to find all these brands. I’m no hot dog – or frankfurter – connoisseur)

3. Your Product or Service

Here’s where you really start to add keywords by the bucketful. You already have hot dog and frankfurter, now you get to think about what people discussing these might also say. Ketchup (and catsup)? Of course. Mustard? No-brainer. Pickle Relish? Oh yeah. Let your mind wander: buns, brats, baseball, barbecues, chili, pickles, sports, grilling, cookouts. This list could go for hours.

If some of those don’t make sense at first glance, consider these examples. You pick up a reference to baseball, and they’re telling people that they have tickets to the game. Hit them up on Twitter with “Enjoy the game! Two #Franks with extra chili would make it even better!” That’s corny, but you get the idea. Retweeting them is even better than replying sometimes, because you flatter them by sharing their tweet but still promote your brand.

 

Not Just Social

The great thing is that mentions of your keywords don’t only happen on social media, and you can track them across the web with good monitoring software. Blogs, news sites, and other media sites will can be searched for your keywords. Perhaps even more important is the ability to monitor review sites so that you can effectively manage your reputation online, or maybe even send a thank you to satisfied customer.

Once you have the basics established in your monitoring system, you’ll know a lot more about the public’s perception of your brand, how you stack up against your competitors in the digital marketing game, and what you can do to improve both your client base and your strategy for engaging and increasing it.

Gavin Hammar

Tech entrepreneur, software developer and founder of Sendible.com.

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