Entrepreneur.com recently featured an interview with Becky Shindell, a communications manager at prominent marketing analytics company SEMrush. Straight out of the gate, Shindell highlighted an important aspect of the overlap between social media and digital marketing in general. She noted that for digital marketing to be effective, one must begin with what she described as “social listening.”

To put it in other words, you might say that before you become a social media marketer, you have to first be an experienced social media user. There is a great deal of highly important information to be acquired through that medium about your prospective customers, their expectations, and their preferences when it comes to content and digital marketing. If you fail to seek out and analyze that information before embarking on your digital marketing campaign, you run the risk of wasting a lot of time on ineffective methods of customer outreach.

The rest of Shindell’s interview emphasizes such topics as the need for well-written content and the rising importance of videos in digital marketing. But it is fair to say that such things are secondary considerations, in the sense that they are largely dependent on the advance research you do about the presence and activity of your competitors, partners, and target audience on social media and on the internet in general.

By reviewing the types of written content that are being shared and discussed among those groups, you can provide your digital marketing campaign with a useful model or set of guidelines for your own content. Even better, by listening to criticisms and recognizing topics of interest that have yet been exploited by others’ digital marketing, you can start out in digital marketing with the clear sense that you’re offering customers a message they won’t find elsewhere.

Similarly, by observing how relevant social media users are reacting to video content, you can determine how far that digital marketing tactic has penetrated your industry, and you can prepare yourself to either outperform the competition in that area or else turn to different tactics that represent an alternative path to success.

You might be inclined to assume that your customers aren’t about to tell you how you can reach them with your digital marketing campaign. But the truth is that people engage with commercial social media accounts and other digital marketing outlets because they enjoy doing so, and it doesn’t take much prompting before they highlights ways that enjoyment can be improved. With that in mind, and especially if you’re new to social media, you should take some time to engage with your customer base before you start thinking of it as part of a digital marketing campaign.

The more information you have going into that campaign, the less likely you are to have to make corrections later on.