Are You Listening?

February 18th, 2011

As the traditional ways of interacting with customers and prospects changes, no longer can we just talk TO them, now we need to talk WITH them. The importance of listening to the consumer becomes paramount and social media affords a much broader, honest, in-depth and cost effective way to really understand how your company or brand is being represented online. By listening first, you can develop a much more targeted and ultimately successful social strategy that forms a comprehensive part of the overall marketing mix.

BUT, you can’t develop this strategy without first listening to how your consumers are talking about you and your competitors online.

Do consumers talk about you predominantly in a negative or positive way? Are they letting their social graph know when they are on the way to your location or that they just finished eating your pizza? Do they want their friends to know they attended your event or are they complaining about lost luggage? And, are they doing this on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare or through forums, blogs etc.? Once you have a strong understanding of this, your social strategy can develop into something that will help effectively engage with and serve your customers and increase dialogue about your brand.

There are a number of monitoring tools out there that help facilitate this process. Programs like Radian6, Collective Intellect, Alterian and others aggregate mentions of your brand across online platforms including blogs, forums, Facebook, twitter, aggregators, etc. This is critical for a number of reasons:

  1. Helps you gain a better understanding of how consumers feel about your brand;
  2. Gives a quantitative understanding of the reach and influence your marketing initiatives are having; and
  3. Increases your understanding of what platforms your brand and competitors are being talked about on which could influence your marketing strategy in terms of where you are advertising or platforms you may want to interact on.

Advertisers run focus groups and do research before presenting new brand messaging and the same should be done through social media. Listening gives you real-time, ongoing and trustworthy feedback on your company, product, offering, general sentiment, competitor comparisons and more.

Whether you listen through a paid service or have a team culling social media platforms through search engines, it’s an opportunity that can’t and shouldn’t be missed.

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