Any good conversationalist will tell you: It's not enough to listen, you must know how to listen. That principle holds true in the sprawled social world as well. In a recent article at AdAge Digital, Kyle Monson notes that the "efficacy of social listening is determined not by the listening itself, but by how we listen, who we listen to, and what our next steps are."

To help companies get a better grip on active social listing, Monson has compiled a list of what to listen for when preparing a social media campaign. Here's a summary:

Listen for intelligence. This doesn't have to happen in real time—weekly or monthly reports on your brand "pulse" are sufficient if this data is used for long-term strategy, not short-term responses—Monson notes. The purpose? To discover your brand's most prominent advocates and detractors—and understand them. Another reason for intelligence-based listening is to get feedback on your campaigns: Are your users behaving the way you hoped they would? If not, you might glean pointers on how to change direction; if they are, you might get a sense of how your effort should evolve.

Listen for customer service. It's easy to talk about companies doing tech support and outreach via sites like Twitter; but without the right strategy, real-time support can do more harm than good. Your goal is to develop a service strategy that improves brand experience by providing meaningful answers and resolving issues, he says. Uselessly apologizing, imposing on others' conversations, or antagonizing (it happens!) will not help.

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