The following is the second installment in a four-part series on the Guide to Smarter Social Engagement, where you will learn necessary preparations for smart engagement with your audience, tools to employ, as well as best practices for optimal results. In the second installment, learn what to listen for from your social audience.
The social world moves fast. In order for companies to keep up with what their customers are saying, what their competitors are doing, and overall brand health, social listening has become an invaluable tool for marketers, customer care agents, and consumer analytics professionals. It is becoming evident that brands have little control over their public standing, and that customer communication through social is best achieved through a strategic listening plan and a robust management platform to boot.
Social listening is not a passive tool within social media strategy – rather, it’s a vital step to smarter social engagement. It is one part of a whole consumer lifecycle, and without it, proper action and next steps cannot be taken.
Listening to customers is also an effective research tool for product development. Learning what social users are saying and purchasing portrays an honest, genuine look into what people want or don’t want. Superfly.com used Facebook fan pages to encourage interaction and engagement from customers of the same frequent-flier program to evaluate their pain points, and then out of those conversations, created the products they needed to solve their problems.
Showing that a brand is listening is important in reputation management. When you engage and reply publically, it shows that a brand has a handle on their customer service and they care about what customers are saying and how they feel about their product or service.
Another important aspect in social listening is paying attention to what your competitors are doing or not doing. A good social listening tool will provide you with clear insights, competitive intelligence and a better understanding of what is lacking or saturating a particular market, and will also show you how your competition is regarded and what you can do to fill in the gaps they have left.
Listening is also a great way for sales departments to generate qualified leads. It can enable brands to analyze behaviors and purchasing signals. Customer service departments may use social listening to respond to queries in real time, giving the customer a sense that the brand cares on an individual level.
Daniel Newman, futurist and insight partner to the world’s largest brands writes, “Social listening provides a consistent platform for brands to actively connect and converse with their customers to not only solve problems but to keep customers.
Many consumer brands like Comcast, Zappos and Bluehost are known for highly engaged teams that manage, monitor, and respond to social queues. This has also been a quickly growing trend in other service industries like air transport and hotels as they seek to build strong communities of active brand evangelists.”
What used to take days to generate, is now instantly available through social listening. Tracking handles, key words, hashtags and specific brand names delivers a competitive advantage straight to your screen.
In the next installment of the Guide to Smarter Social Media Engagement, learn about the planning practices for effective engagement with your social audience.