Targeted Social Listening: 8 Tips for Engaging with Leads Online

Updated on:
April 11, 2021

Has your social media strategy stalled over the last few weeks? Your analytics claim that Twitter engagement has plateaued, and you’re worried your social game needs an upgrade. Your reach only goes so far, and you know leads are hiding all over social media! The trouble comes in finding them. Where are your leads? What are they talking about? And how can you engage them?

The answer is social listening. Targeted social listening entails figuring out the kinds of conversations potential customers are engaging in, and then inserting yourself in the dialogue. Social listening sounds more time-intensive than simply backlogging content and checking your analytics every once in a while (I use Buffer for this, and it really is efficient and easy). However, it is the necessary next step in lead generation online. It’s a way to take your reactionary social strategy, and make it proactive. You don’t want to only passively “fish” for leads--you want to be able to “hunt” for them, too. Why wait for what you can go out and find for yourself?

Also, I never advocate for spending more than a couple hours a week on social media. Networking can be exhausting--doubly so when your potential network is the entire world. In fact, spending less than an hour or two a week on social listening is probably better for you and your business, lest you become that annoying person who posts, comments and likes everything. Enthusiasm is great, but preserving your work time (and sanity) is even better.

How To Engage in Targeted Social Listening (Without Sacrificing Work Time)

Pick your top platform.

  • Are you a B2C with awesome pictures and cute content? Spend most of your time on Facebook. Are you a B2B with great content? Head on over to LinkedIn. Twitter is the best (and easiest) tool for social listening because most people’s accounts (and tweets) are public, so you can easily find and engage with them. I highly recommend you always spend a little time listening on Twitter. If you know of any great niche social networks that fit your industry, of course look there, too.

Listen to your ideal customers.

  • It’s time to figure out what your leads are talking about. Who is your target market? For me, that often means small business owners who are looking for ways to improve their company. So, that means they’re engaging in small business talk, asking questions about software, and looking for new solutions to the various problems that small businesses face

Make a list of keywords.

  • Base them off your ideal customer’s dialogue. Phrases like, “Looking for X Product,” “Small Business Tips,” and simply “Good/Bad X Product” are great places to start.

Find conversations that you can be a part of.

  • This is where social media savvy comes in handy. On Twitter, you can create saved searches out of your keywords, follow or monitor accounts in the same industries as your leads, and check out trending hashtags (if they apply to what your company does). On LinkedIn, you can search for keywords, but your time would be better spent in groups. Join groups for the industries and interests of your leads, as well as your business’ own industry (people often post there for specific questions related to your product category). Facebook is a little trickier because so many people have private accounts. However, you can still search through public posts, groups, and “like” pages using your keywords, you just might find a lot of businesses posting about the same thing (i.e. competition!), as their posts are usually public.


  • When people post questions such as, “Looking for a good Product X. Any ideas?”, it’s totally fine to jump in and suggest your product! The lead is looking for suggestions, and you’ve got answers (just be clear that you represent the company. No one likes advice that feels fake). Another way to post is to suggest content. If someone needs business tips, and you just wrote a great blog post about the same subject, suggest they read it! Finally, it’s helpful (and effective) to give advice without any kind of promotion attached to your company at all. I do this often on LinkedIn. People will post questions about business strategies and social media on LinkedIn all the time, and I will answer with my experiences and honest advice. And you know what happens? People look at my profile, see where I work, and click on my company! It can also be helpful to have a good reputation in a group. That way, people trust your advice, and when you finally do make a post or suggest your own company, you’re taken more seriously than people who only promote themselves on social media.

Make a routine.

  • Just as you schedule your content, schedule your social media time--and stick to it! It’s easy to spend hours surfing the net for leads, but it can be very unproductive and actually hurt your brand if you’re overactive on social media. I monitor social media every day (meaning if someone tweets at my company or comments on a post, I’ll tweet back or like their comment), but I only look for leads 2-3 days a week, for 30-45 minutes at a time.

Adjust depending on results.

  • Don’t do the same thing week after week if it’s not working. Most social media platforms have free analytic tools: use them! What kinds of posts do your current followers love? What are your top comments? I’ve discovered that people love listicles about social media on Facebook (that makes sense), and that a post from my company’s CEO is really popular on Twitter. So, I’ve modified my posting schedule to include more of what people want, comment more with popular posts and take less popular posts out of rotation. Though I’m still skeptical that time of day actually matters for posting and commenting, you can also change when you post on social media to get the most eyes.

Last, but not least, make the content your leads need.

  • This is a step further than fishing or hunting--we’ll call it “trapping,” to keep the metaphor alive. When you listen to your leads, you’ll discover new problems and conversations that you didn’t know were happening, and that you don’t have a way to access yet. Writing content like blog posts and e-books is a great way to fill their needs and broaden your reach on social media.

Looking for more social media tips? Check out these posts from our blog:

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