Listening to Social Media

“Social media listening tools make it easy to track brand references and mentions, and these functions can still be handled ably by a small, dedicated team”. – Ryan Holmes

As a means of communicating and ‘keeping in touch’, Social Media has taken over our lives, whether we concede to this fact or not. It has changed the way people interact, communicate and express themselves and is also a highly visible and effective platform to get one’s views and opinions across. Amongst the different channels of on-line communication, social media now tops the list, with people accessing it even while on the go via their smart and hand-held devices. With so much ‘activity’ and data available on this channel, it just makes a lot of business sense to start listening to social media, if as a company you still have not.

By listening to social media, companies can expect to gain mileage and be able to leverage the huge amounts of information available in the form of discussions, comments, posts and other such interactions. Monitoring and keeping track of these on-line ‘conversations’ will ensure that your company never loses out on vital clues and information about the company, its brands and how its customer service is being viewed. Listening to social media now, is as vital and crucial as any other business aspect. Ignoring this critical source of information is not good business sense. Listening to social media is also a great way to engage customers. Once they have ‘said’ what they want, it gives companies the opportunity to respond in a timely and effective manner ensuring that those who are ‘talking’ about your company know that you understand and care about their opinion. This encourages engagement and also boosts your company’s reputation, letting it be known as one that actively listens and responds to its customers and others.

Listening to social media is about putting to good use tools and methods at your disposal, in order to track, analyse and monitor information on this medium and are most useful to know how and when your company and its offerings are discussed or even mentioned. Listening to social media also includes information and discussions about your company on other on-line spaces – anything that can and will be accessed and read by a large cross-section of people. It will not be good for business if this invaluable data and information is ignored – make listening to social media a habit.

Listening to social media and other on-line ‘conversations’ means that your company would respond. The more responses and ‘keywords’ used in these interactions, the more likely it is that popular search engines would ‘pick’ up your company’s conversations when these keywords are used. Such visibility draws more people towards your company, which is great publicity. Using tools for ‘social listening’, enables your company to get the scattered information about it, in a summarized and report form. Such structured information can then be fed back into your company to make improvements, enhancements and create new offerings. How a company uses this information depends on its long and short term goals and vision.

Listening to social media and other on-line conversations through specific tools allows your company to filter out irrelevant and useless information and keep only usable information. In addition, this sort of information gathering is not flouting the privacy of the users – it is only extracting and compiling information, that mentions the company and its brands, that is already visible to all. In fact, companies are able to use this information to further their cause – which is the primary aim of on-line information and data pertinent to the company.

Is listening to social media that crucial? Does your company have a set process and team to handle this task? The truth is that companies – both small and big – are investing in social media marketing to enhance their business. According to a survey 69% of them use it lead more traffic to their website, 83% are using it to increase the exposure of their company and brand and yet another 65% believe that they are able to get a better understanding of their target audience by listening to social media. They believe that is a great way to gain ‘customer intelligence’.  Listening to social media and other forms of virtual communication helps companies gain a better understanding of the market and customer base – their needs, expectations and demands of products and services.

Listening to social media and other on-line communication also provides invaluable insights into what your competitors are doing. Consistent monitoring and tracking of your competitors ‘activities’ allows your company to stay ahead of them especially if there is a possibility of similar products or services being launched. Keeping a close watch on competition will ensure that you are never caught unawares and will be prepared to counter or be pro-active to beat competition.

Customers and other prospective ones, too actively interact via social media. Their views and comments are a rich source of information and listening to them via these comments puts your company in a better position to understand what pleases them and what is it that ticks them off. This could be either in relation to your company or another – all the same the information is a guide to ensuring that your company can do everything to keep customers happy. This information is also highly useful and effective in understanding the target customer base. Listening to social media makes for an extremely influential method of getting leads and then using them to put together a personalized marketing pitch that will help ‘clinch the deal’. Customers then know that your company takes feedback and comments seriously enough to incorporate their feedback into the products or services and also provide a standard of customer service that they desire.

Staying ahead becomes a lot easier when your company is in possession of vital clues – for example when a current user is ready to make a next buy, whether a previous user is no longer buying from you but from competition, identify reasons as to the ‘switch’ and put strategies in place to get the customer back. As discussed some time back, re-gaining a lost customer is great for business and such a customer is more likely to be loyal and a willing ambassador for your company and its products. Listening to social media makes your company more aware of what it is doing wrong and what is required to rectify it such that no more customers ‘deflect’.  Listening to social media, as mentioned has so many benefits and when the information is acted upon, it translates to great customer service. Anyone in business realizes the importance of a high level of customer service especially in a market where retaining customers is an everyday struggle. Also it is not only essential to retain customers, it is imperative that these customers are profitable and also able to provide great referrals to added business. Your customers could be saying just about anything about your company and its products – responding swiftly and effectively is great customer service and is only possible when you are listening to social media and other forms of ‘communication’.

So if this kind of listening is so crucial and critical to the success of a company, why do some companies still not do a good job and even fail to do it? The primary reason probably is that the sea of data that is available can be extremely intimidating for any size of company. If they are not equipped to handle this data, they would just choose to ignore it. Another reason is probably because, companies are unsure about what is useful information and what is just useless ‘chatter’. As mentioned, in order to filter and collate information that is useful for the company some amount of investment in technology is required – which some companies may not have the bandwidth for or are unwilling to invest just yet.

However, you look at it – listening to social media and other on-line communication is certain to help forge your company ahead and will positively impact a number of aspects of your company. Put your company on a strong footing by listening to social media and deliver to your customers what they need and when they need it.

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