While many people think of social media as a powerful relationship-building tool as it provides brands with an additional opportunity to connect with consumers, it also allows brands to really listen to what their consumers want. Taking advantage of social listening is one of the most effective ways to boost sales and ROI as well as increase your brand's awareness. It's a powerful component of a business's social media marketing strategy that is all too often overlooked.
Probably the biggest reason why brands aren't listening to their consumers is that there is so much data and information floating around in online conversations that it can be difficult to capture it. While there are a number of free social media monitoring tools out there such as Hootsuite, SocialMention, and Klout, to be most effective, you probably need to invest in technology that can actively listen to these conversations for the best results.
Establishing a social listening strategy can benefit nearly every department within your organization, and Search Engine Watch shares how:
- Customer Service: More and more companies are turning to social media to implement a customer service strategy as consumers are demanding a prompt response to their questions and concerns and do not want to be hassled with a 1-800 number. This is a great resource for solving problems in a timely manner and can offer tremendous cost savings when integrated with CRM.
- Marketing and Public Relations: Social listening can enable your brand to pick up on mentions about its products and service in real time. Whether this information is positive or negative, your business can leverage this information to create a better content, SEO, and/or PPC strategy.
- Product: Through social listening, your business can gain feedback on any issues with products, better measure the success of existing products and product launches, and uncover ways to improve products when necessary.
- Sales: By monitoring for mentions of your brand or conversations that include the intent to make a purchase, your sales team can better identify hot leads and work them through the sales funnel. It's also a useful tool for staying in tune with what your target audience thinks of your competition.
- Human Resources: More companies are turning to popular social media sites like LinkedIn to find qualified talent, but social listening can provide an opportunity to find out who the influencers are in your industry and learn how your employees really feel about your organization.
A prime example of a company that did not practice social listening in the time of a crisis is Lululemon Athletica, and the brand's image suffered as a result. Online buzz about the brand picked up when the popular fitness-clothing retailer's stock declined due to a recall of its women's yoga pants that were too transparent. Instead of addressing the issue on social media or on the company's website, Lululemon completely ignored the issue. In this situation, the customers actually became the marketers for Lululemon with their online conversations about the brand, and by not responding, the brand risked that its image would be negatively impacted.
An example of a company that benefited from social listening to improve its product is Maker's Mark. When the company announced that they were going to reduce the product's alcohol content, conversations online about the announcement exploded, and the feedback shared about this change was not positive. By picking up on this consumer displeasure through social listening, Maker's Mark quickly reversed its decision to modify the alcohol content.
In summary, social listening is a vital tool for gaining powerful consumer feedback and enhancing your brand's image and offerings.
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