Social Media Requires Listening [Research]

You’re not listening to me!

social media requires listeningSocial media provides consumers with easy-to-use feedback platforms—from Facebook and Twitter to TripAdvisor and Yelp—on which to rant and rave about products, brands and companies. Despite this massive social media reservoir of user input, most marketers don’t pay attention to what consumers are saying.

You’re not listening to me!” is a popular phrase among teenagers and spouses. Consumers could say the same thing since marketers aren’t much better. While just over three-quarters of consumers post about products on social media, only two out of five firms have any social media tracking in place at all, according to recent Satmetrix research. Broken out by business focus: 51% of B2B have no tracking compared with 22% of B2C companies surveyed.

Based on Satmetrix’s findings, over half of companies ignore customers who offer social media feedback because they don’t have processes in place to respond. Specifically, this breaks out as 69% for B2B companies compared to 42% for B2C firms.

At the Sentiment Analysis Symposium in New York, Frank Cotignola of Kraft Foods reinforced this perspective. While marketers try to get customers to talk about them, they only want to ask consumers questions. They miss a critical aspect of communications because they don’t listen.

To improve your marketing effectiveness, listen to the conversation and determine what consumers want and need. Interestingly, Kraft looks beyond mentions of its iconic brands. They put together real time discussions to support marketing decisions, such as when is the most effective time to use coupons.

What should your firm do?

  1. Recognize effective listening requires work. It involves lots of resources and time. This doesn’t mean you should cover your ears and run away. Rather, decide what you and your organization can accomplish and get the best tools you can afford to support you. If you’ve got a small business, pay attention to those strategies that’ll have the biggest impact. It might be monitoring the reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor.  (Here’s suggestions for social media listening.)
  2. Have business processes in place to answer common questions. While you may not have enough staff and related resources to do everything, focus on what you can do. Kraft answers to the major questions prospects and customers have. Use a variety of options to distribute your responses widely such as FAQs, blogs and videos.  Source questions from sales, customer service and other customer facing staff.
  3. Offer customer service via social media platforms. Don’t spread your resources too thin by trying to be everywhere but, rather, provide support where you can make a difference and answer quickly.
  4. Ask prospects, customers and the public to submit their questions. Post your request across your owned media and establishments such as your website, blog, customer service and emails.
  5. Get customers to help respond to questions from other customers. Offer an incentive to get customers to answer other customers.

While listening to the conversation on social media platforms is the first rule for corporate participation, many marketers rush to implement easy-to-define visible tactics. Instead take time to assess what your prospects, customers and the public want to know about your organization. Just like your family, consumers want to know that you’re listening to them.

What other suggestions do you have for improving how your organization can listen to customers and the public? What’s been most successful for you?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

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