Friends, Romans, Countrymen Lend Me Your Ears
Your customers are talking. They’re tweeting, they’re posting, they’re streaming. They’re sending information about themselves and their interests into the world. Savvy companies know that social listening is arguably the most valuable aspect of having a social media profile.
Listening can, and increasingly, must play a fundamental role across several customer-facing operations. Your data could be telling you so much more about how to improve your business.
The question is, what are you doing with that information? Sadly, for many companies, the answer is nothing!
The True Potential of Social Listening
With today’s listening solutions, companies can go beyond hearing their name mentioned. They can now absorb and analyze a wide range of data to drive strategic business strategies in real-time.
Brands can understand how people really feel about them, about their products, their service, their overall reputation. Through listening, companies can improve their level of customer care, identify potential customers, and even align internal teams that typically work in a separate, siloed manner.
Through listening, brands can generate a detailed view of products, services, or care strategies that spur negative sentiment. Consumers aren’t always going to complain directly to a brand: depending solely on your owned @mentions limits the view and means you’re likely missing out on opportunities to create more (and happier) customers. Identifying broad-based market themes, hot topics, or even competitors’ content gives brands an edge in a broad, constantly shifting the digital market.
With this broad-based analysis, for example, companies can quickly recognize whether they’ve drawn a one-off complaint about delayed delivery, or whether an entire state is angry about a series of delayed deliveries. Armed with that knowledge, they can link to, say, shipping trackers or address bigger operational issues appropriately.
Listening also has the power to drive innovation. Companies can hear countless social conversations in real-time, and use the information to better tailor their products to the needs of their customers. Larger companies can use location filters to see how demand varies across different regions and shift their strategy accordingly.
When you leverage social listening data as a well of consumer insights, it can lead to products that solve market problems in a unique and innovative way.
Simply using social listening is just the beginning for brands today. Indeed, there is a pressing need for companies to harness listening in much more robust, holistic ways. Fortunately, the listening solutions available today allow them to do just that.
Here are three ways that your brand can gather more intel from social networks:
1. Listen...really listen
Your marketing department probably already monitors the conversations going on about your brand online, but are they tracking the kind of language used to describe your competitors? Social media is an incredible resource for gathering candid viewpoints. Negative conversations about your competitors can reveal unmet consumer needs, which translates to an opportunity for your company to gain a competitive edge. Likewise, positive feedback about competitors can tell you what consumers consider as the most important aspects of a good or service.
2. It’s demographics people
Social media is a factor in many purchase decisions, so it’s important to understand how consumer behavior varies by channel. It’s more than just knowing that your company’s demographic is more active on Snapchat than Facebook. Equally important is how and when these groups are using which channels.
For instance, Gen Z is more likely to have integrated multiple social media channels into almost every activity and might crave the “second screen experience,” but Boomers tend to prefer one single social channel, and only at certain times of the day. You can’t execute an optimal social media strategy if you don’t regularly check in with the ever-changing habits of your target demographic.
3. Customer Preferences is your roadmap!
Reviewing your own engagement data will help to determine your followers’ affinity towards types of content you’re already publishing, but looking internally only gives you part of the puzzle. Research what types of content your audience enjoys the most across a broad spectrum of publications and other brands. Be sure to take a comprehensive look at visuals, text, video, and audio content. You might find that your audience prefers e-books to blog posts or storytelling photos to static infographics. If you don’t take the time to look outside your own content stream, you can’t build a complete picture of what your audience wants to see, read, watch, and hear.
Social listening is a hugely undervalued tool for brands, but it can only get you so far if you have yet to identify your target market. Once offline behavior and general consumer profiles help you to hone in on the consumer segments that matter most to you, social media platforms offer a gold mine of behavioral trends to explore. By participating in social listening, you will keep a finger on the pulse of evolving preferences and will be better able to meet the needs of the consumer. Trust me, they want you to tune in.