When you meet a new friend, it’s unlikely that you would walk in the front door of their house the first time you visit. Instead, you’d probably ring the doorbell and wait to be invited into their home. You might follow this same pattern for a few months of visiting -- ring, and then enter. But eventually, as you grow comfortable with your budding relationship, you would probably let yourself in when you arrive. The same principle applies in social media.
As a pharmaceutical company, the first step to developing a social media marketing strategy is a “landscape assessment.” The goal is to understand what content is available online, where conversations are happening and what the themes of those conversations are. A baseline understanding of the environment is critical before you go busting through the front door. You need to ring the doorbell and wait to be invited in to the community.
However, it’s important to remember that when it comes to the consumption of content online, there is more than what is visible in popular social media platforms. Sure, it is beneficial to listen to and monitor public online conversation. But it’s equally important to consider the conversations that never take place.
How do you do that? Google, of course. There is a lot to be learned from examining the dichotomy between the conversations that occur in a public setting and search behavior. Conversations tell you what a person is comfortable sharing in public. Search behavior provides a glimpse into what types of information people are either looking for and not finding, or are looking for but are not comfortable sharing in a public setting. For example, you might see a high search volume around topic like caring for a loved one that is not reflected in actual conversations. Where search volume and conversation volume diverge can be a key insight for social media success. To be a trusted and accepted member of the community you need to understand both dynamics -- what people share in a public setting and what they are only comfortable telling Google.
There is an old adage that gets used quite a bit in social media circles called the “1, 9, 90 rule.” Essentially, this means that 1% of people create content, 9% share it with their friends and 90% simply consume content. Understanding search behavior means not forgetting about the 90%. When developing a content creation calendar for social media, remember that 90% of the audience may never have a conversation online.