With more than $200 billion in spending power and opinion leadership positions in many product segments, Millennials are increasingly using social media to communicate to companies about the products or services they buy. Savvy companies have taken notice, and they have implemented social media marketing strategies that enable them to engage with their customers, prospects, and even competitors on social media.

As important as such direct communications are, there are other social media conversations—those among consumers—that are nearly invisible to companies but are infinitely more insightful and actionable.

On Twitter alone, just 3% of the tweets that mention brands or companies use company identifiers. The other 97% can fly under corporate radar, never to be seen or acted upon.

Companies that mine that hidden world of social media chatter gain invaluable market intelligence into consumer opinion of their brands and competitors. Social media listening also identifies sales prospects, brand advocates, and detractors that never engage directly with the company.

But how is a social media listening process designed and implemented? It's not uncommon for some brands to garner literally hundreds of mentions per hour on social media, so diligence is required to monitor, sort, route, aggregate, and engage messages.

Casting the Net Over Open Water

Considering the vast quantity of content produced each minute on social media, isolating relevant messages is daunting. Fortunately, filtering software can monitor selected channels automatically.

However, such programs are useful only when marketers understand the best approaches to implementing them effectively. Setting too many keywords or vague terms yields chaotic results. Instead, think like a successful fisherman who selects the net with the optimized mesh size to catch the most profitable fish while allowing smaller species to slip through the gaps.

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image of Marcel Florez

Marcel Florez is senior vice-president at N3, where he oversees worldwide social media listening and Cloud sales teams supporting some of the largest technology companies in the world.

LinkedIn: Marcel Florez