You probably spend a lot of time on social platforms spreading your message, sending out updates, and posting inspirational quotes. But how much time do you spend actually listening to your followers?

Perhaps even more important than daily updates is the habit of tuning in to what people are talking about and what needs they’re expressing with the goal of tailoring your content to answer those needs and address their concerns.

It’s basic social engagement 101, and there’s no better place to start than with Twitter.

Yes, Twitter. Let’s do this.

Twitter Search

The easiest first step to take is to begin with a simple search in Twitter. It seems obvious, and yet so many people never take advantage of this feature.

Think through the topics you speak on frequently, list them out and then search multiple keywords and hashtag combinations around those topics to see what other people are saying. Note if the talk is positive or negative, if people have questions/concerns about it, or if there simply is no interest about it at all.

If no one is actually engaging with the topics you frequent, re-evaluate your strategies and find something different to talk about, or find a new, more interesting angle to speak about the topic to begin generating interest.

Using Other Tools to Listen

One of our favorite ways to listen on Twitter is by using the social tools in our Hubspot account to monitor activity. You can set up specific threads to listen in on a topic of conversation or a certain hashtag and then monitor that thread for as many days as you want. It gives you quick and easy access to see what people are saying in real time.

Plus, with just five minutes every hour or couple of hours, you can quickly favorite all the relevant tweets, respond to the especially intriguing ones and retweet a few others right from the dashboard. You never actually have to sign into Twitter.

All these actions work to pull users back to your own profile where you should already have a steady update of your own tweets on the topic to maintain your credibility. The goal is for these users to see your thoughts on the trend, and then engage with you further or follow you. This type of listening is especially useful during conferences, trade shows, events and local happenings (or national and international happenings—when it applies and makes sense in conjunction with your brand) because it allows you to reach a specific demographic of people who are ready to engage with an organization or business like you about a pain point or trend.

If you aren’t a Hubspot customer, you can enlist other tools with similar capabilities like Hootsuite and Buffer. It’s an investment worth making.

General Ways to Listen Actively

  • Respond to people’s tweets as much as you can. If your following is smaller, focusing even more attention to responding to and favoriting every single tweet that gets sent your way.
  • Ask questions. If you have followers who consistently tweet at you or favorite your tweets, send them some questions. Start Twitter conversations with them and learn as much as you can from them on what they like about your organization, what they wish they saw more of, what they need, etc. A simple “How can we help you more?” can begin a great learning experience for you both.
  • Host at Twitter talk. Choose a topic most of your audience would be interested in and advertise that you’re hosting a Twitter talk during a specified time. When that time opens, encourage people to tweet questions and let the conversation flow!

Here’s the bottom line: Listening to your audience is always a good venture. And with Twitter’s ease of access and informal engagement, you can quickly engage, teach and learn from your audience.

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