Perception of your brand has always had some degree of word-of-mouth that shaped it. But the power of social media is changing everything. Now, there is an entire community of conversation about your brand, your product, or your service. Now is the time to decide what you are going to do about. Will you engage with this community or sit back and wait to see what happens?
Many companies initially get involved with social media because of a crisis. An airline passenger's guitar was smashed so he started tweeting about it. A cable customer couldn't watch her favorite show and had no internet access so she posted a rant on her cable company's Facebook page. We've all heard these kinds of stories. There is no doubt social media is changing how customer and clients engage with businesses online.
Many companies recognizing customers are online, talking about their products and services, and expressing opinions, are figuring out how important it could be for them to gather this information. These companies understand this information could help them improve their product or provide better customer service. These companies have begun to listen. With listening, comes the need to take action and respond. Today's customer expect companies to answer their online communications as if they had left you a voice mail message instead.
What Does Listening Mean?
When I use the word "Listening" I'm talking about taking advantage of technology that enables you to discover and collect messages regarding your company and your product or service. This is generally done by creating a number of keyword-based searches online and collecting and analyzing the search results. Before engaging in "Listening" we encourage our clients to work with us to develop a strategy first. With a strategy in place, the keyword searches can be tailored to your purpose for listening.
You may be listening just to hear what is being said about you or your product or service with no intent to respond. Here, you may gather information to determine if people are talking about you at all. If so, what are they saying about you, or your product or service? You may also want to know where they are posting their comments, and if they are generally positive or negative.
Other companies may have a strategy in place calling for them to respond to comments and engage with their customers or clients. Companies many take the initiative to go to the communities where their customers are active and participate in the conversation. These companies may listen to what their customers or clients are saying and publish their own content addressing these issues. These companies what to do more than just gather information, they want to get in on the action and engage with a community of people forming around their product or service.
There is much more to be said about the topic of listening. Future posts may discuss what companies should be listening for, or how they can develop a response strategy and who is responsible to respond. What tools are available to help companies accomplish their goals and what do they cost? What are the different types of things companies should be listening for? There is much to say about this topic.
For now, we suggest you start thinking about how your company could be listening and what you would want to listen for. Start thinking about developing a listening and response strategy. Share with us what your company is currently doing in this arena or what questions or concerns your company has about engaging in a dialogue with your customers or clients. Let us hear what you think about this topic and if there are topics you would like us to address in the future. We're listening!