Most use social media as a distribution tool.
Share links to articles, videos, podcasts and more.
That’s pretty much how I use it.
Others use it to share native tips, thoughts, etc. No links. Just sharing information right there on the social platform. The audience doesn’t need to leave the social site or app. They get value right there.
And others use it for interaction. In fact, quite a few use it for interaction. And that kind of leads us into what we’re looking at with the topic of this article, which is using social media as a learning tool.
Many use it this way, but it might be something you could look at doing more often. I know I’ll be looking at doing it more.
Here are some ways to use social media as a learning tool.
1. Observing Target Audience
It might seem a little stalker-ish.
But your target audience or target customers or whatever are using social media. Most people are. And they’re sharing all kinds of information about their lives. They’re interacting with people and with content.
By simply observing them you can learn much more than you ever could in the past.
When I first got into the business world we mailed catalogs. We had nice little personas written down. We merchandized based on those profiles. Then we’d see performance on each item.
But if we had social media back then we could have known so much more. And that’s on the B2C level.
Today, you can find out exactly who your customers are and you can follow them on most social accounts. If you have a Facebook page for your business many are likely already following you and they have their profiles and feeds set to public.
Schedule time every week to scroll through those feeds. Look at everything they’re sharing, commenting on, etc.
The content is a big one. If you’re thinking about content marketing then knowing the content your audience wants to consume is a good place to start.
2. Direct Interaction With Target Audience
Take it another step and interact with your target audience.
Social media is meant for social interaction. You don’t have to be best friends with your target customers, but you can interact with them.
As a person and likely social media user, what type of engagement do you like from others?
Probably likes, reshares and comments?
Well, that’s what your target customers like to when they’re using social media. You can do it from your own account or from the company account. Heck, tons of people would love to get a retweet on Twitter from a brand. Especially a brand that they have purchased from in the past. They would probably become your biggest fan if you gave them some interaction.
What you might even find is that some of your customers are social media influencers. They have pretty good followings and can really spread the word about you to those followers.
Finding out that some of your followers are influencers? Sounds like a great learning experience to me.
3. Observing Competition
Everybody is sharing a lot about themselves on social media. And that includes your competition.
In fact, your competition is probably doing a little spying on you right now with how you’re using social media. Well, they’re probably paying attention if you’re killing it. Maybe not so much if you’re not really building that large of a following.
But you can look at all the competition and see what they’re doing well. You don’t have to copy what they’re doing, but you can get a good picture of what their strategy is. You can even see how their customers are interacting with their social accounts.
You can choose the best stuff, ignore the not-so-good and add your own touches to improve what you’re doing.
4. Polling, Asking Questions
This one is just taking the interaction a little further. You’re customers will like interaction. But you can take it a little further by asking questions.
Let’s say that you see a customer that leaves a comment about something. You can jump in and ask for more details. You could ask them the reason why they felt this way.
It could be about your product.
Or it could be about something else. Just you and them having a conversation. You asking questions and learning from the answers. Most people are more than willing to answer questions.
Most social sites now have polling as an option. This is a great way to pose a question to your followers so you can learn more about them.
5. Industry & Outside News
Finally, you can use social media to get your news. Specific to your industry, but also outside news. I like to get a mix of both. And there is no better place than social media. You can follow the best sources, the influencers and a few outside oddballs.
The great thing with social media is that you’re not just depending on a few outlets for news. Now you have access to any and all outlets.
Social media isn’t just for distributing your content. It is good for that, but it’s good for so much more. 10+ years ago businesspeople would have killed for the learning opportunity that social media offers. If you’re not taking advantage of it and investing the time and energy then you’re missing out. And your competition is probably learning and passing you by.