Stephen R. Covey, in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said that one should “seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The same goes for businesses and their communication with customers. As business owners or marketing professionals with considerable knowledge about your product and industry, you may be tempted to respond right away with helpful advice. However, it pays to be patient and understand the issue completely first. Try to gauge customer sentiment and read between the lines. Ask pertinent questions that will help you delve further, since ultimately the more you understand what they are saying, the better you can make your products and services to make your clients happier. Putting your social media listening practices to the best use can help you achieve this.
The importance of understanding through social listening for a brand
Irrespective of the size of your business or the industry you are in, you need to prioritize social listening. It helps in understanding your target audience better by tracking conversations about your brand, competitors, the industry, latest online trends, and basically any topic that can be relevant for your company.
With the right social listening tools, you can track customer sentiment in real-time and analyze each of your posts to get an accurate picture of what customers love and what they want changed. This is vital in product development. Customer service is another area where understanding your target audience can give you an edge over the competition. Customers are vocal today, and it is vital that you understand what they are trying to say and respond at the earliest with the best solutions. 79% of consumers expect responses from a brand within 24 hours of reaching out on social media, and how you handle this can go a long way in boosting brand perception and loyalty among customers. Besides, more brand mentions and conversations means ranking higher on search engines like Google.
In case of a PR crisis or any online issue (which almost all businesses face at one time or the other), the data and understanding that you have gathered from social listening can be the key in connecting with customers and bouncing back.
Which sectors should use social listening?
Conversation today has moved online, which means that almost any brand or organization can leverage social listening. Whether you are a B2B company or a B2C one, a well-planned social listening strategy as part of your digital marketing campaign can make a massive difference in boosting business. It has even become important for governments, and authorities have realized this. The Indian government has been using social listening to connect to citizens, understand issues and demographics, get feedback, and manage their reputation. Non-profit organizations and charities can use listening to track negative mentions, identify target audiences, raise funds, and connect with influencers for a cause.
Companies that got social listening right
Fast-food chain Wendy’s has been a champion with a fantastic Twitter feed, immediate responses, and their overall understanding of what customers want. In 2010, the brand launched new fries with sea salt by listening to customers talk in favor of sea salt compared to regular salt. The new item on their menu was a roaring success.
Coca-Cola is also known for offering frequent and helpful responses to their Twitter followers and following up with direct messages to customers. Other companies who have successfully used social listening include Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Netflix, and Visa.
Closer home, Amazon Prime was listening when actor Rahul Bose tweeted about having to pay Rs.442.50 for a couple of bananas at a luxury hotel. Although this was not quite relevant to the service they provide or even the industry they are in, they cashed in on the popular tweet with one of their own. This was to highlight how affordable the streaming platform was. This is the power of social media listening – if you are clued into the latest happenings online, you can have your best marketing moments with a witty and timely campaign like Amazon Prime did. Their tweet, of course, went viral.
India has about 448 million people who actively use social media, giving brands a massive customer base to tap into. Companies have started discovering the potential of social listening, and it is expected to grow rapidly in no time by helping brands in the country understand their customers, deliver better quality content, solve issues, and form stronger bonds. Tip: remember that while what a customer is saying may not exactly be what you want to hear, it is likely that this is what you need to listen to and understand.