Social media is intrinsic to our daily lives, on average we spend nearly 200 minutes per day scrolling through news feeds, posting photos, liking comments and sharing our experiences. As we shift to look at the business value of social media, it provides marketers with the opportunity to access customer feedback.
Since its inception, social media has served as a global soundboard for sharing. But what is most important today, isn’t just listening. It’s about the next steps we take based on what has been said. That is the real business value of social media.
Whether your business objectives revolve around customer retention or brand reputation, there are three ways to start using social listening to improve your customer marketing.
Make your brand more relatable
Promoting authenticity is key. Over the years I've seen it be a constant struggle for marketers.
It’s simple – humans like other humans. Humanising your brand helps people relate to what you’re offering. When people like and relate to your brand they buy your products. This isn’t just a fluffy marketing stint, understanding your audience actually helps drive purchase decisions. The simplest way to make your brand more relatable involves online listening and analysing audience data. By doing so, you can help find tune your brand voice and uncover noteworthy user-generated content.
With the steady rise of influencer marketing, it’s not surprising that consumers listen to other consumers. In fact, they are 2.4 times more likely to view user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands. If you’re able to pin-point these brand mentions you can repurpose these content pieces on your own channels, giving credit where it’s due. Essentially what you are doing is using the reach of your brand channels, while displaying more personal content pieces. Not only does this build trust with your audience, but it reinforces your brand values.
Listening to your audience is a must, but personally I find listening to your competitors wildly interesting. Keeping your friends close, and enemies closer seems like a fair comparison here. Seasoned marketers know that paying attention to how competitors interact with their own audience sheds light on room for improvement.
Start by paying attention to how they are engaging online. Are they using buzzwords? Emojis? Hashtags? When are they posting? And on what channels? Digging deep on your competitors social strategy is how you’ll find golden nuggets of opportunity to foster a better connection with your own audience.
Show that you are actually listening
Help your audience realise they aren’t just a ticket in your CRM tool. You need customer feedback to grow your business – and luckily for most, you’ll find plenty of it online without even asking. But the trick here is ensuring your audience knows how important their feedback is. This feedback loop is similar to one you’d have with managing a team. Someone shares a request with you, and you do your due diligence to ensure they receive a follow-up. Sometimes internal communications practices can be used externally.
The main difference here is that there are thousands of voices sharing with you, so it’s crucial to reduce inefficiency by levering a listening tool to do the heavy lifting. By doing so, you’ll close the gap on missed conversations and prove to people that you’ve in fact heard them.
Where I’ve seen people fail here is not listening frequently enough. In order for a monitoring strategy to be effective for your business it must be done daily. Being able to dedicate 20 minutes to check your brand mentions is what will set your team up for success. You’ll be able to prioritise topics and feedback on recent campaigns, product launches or evergreen content.
Beyond listening, you must close that communication loop. Ensure your audience knows you’ve heard and utilised their feedback. Show them that their opinions have helped shape or influence certain products or decisions in your company so they know they’re part of your success. There’s no better place to share your customer praise than on the very same channel where the conversation started.
Find opportunities in negative feedback
40% of customers who complain on social media expect a response within one hour. Not only is that a big deal, it shows how much customers trust social media to connect with a brand. Nearly all social platforms today operate as a customer service and selling platform. That is the future of social media, and it’s growing rapidly. When social first hit, it was all about sharing to be heard.
Today, it’s beyond that. It’s about sharing with a purpose. People are sharing their feedback with you and expecting improvements. We all know that change doesn’t happen overnight, maybe in two or three quarters. So to maintain and continue improving your brand reputation you must address negative feedback in hopes of turning it into a positive dialogue. Doing so will help change the narrative of how your brand is perceived online.
The way you handle complaints and negative comments is, and always will be a vital aspect of your reputation management strategy. The beauty of public opinion is that there is a great opportunity to change perceptions. You can literally spin the conversation in your favour. I’ve always believed in transparency and humility in all aspects of how I run a business, and customer marketing is no different.
Today, social media channels have become customer experience platforms. In Facebook’s Insights Guide, they reported more than one billion messages are sent from customers to businesses each year. It’s safe to say that the intricacy of marketing and communications teams these days isn’t a coincidence, it’s because the market itself is complex. But it doesn’t mean that mastering your business's customer care and reputation is impossible.
The best way digital communicators can become more efficient when it comes to customer care is by listening to important conversations on forums, blogs, review sites and social channels. But it doesn’t end there. Today’s professionals need to push past just social listening, because everyone is doing it these days. What sets quality customer marketing apart from the pack is absorbing the insights you’ve learnt and allowing them to drive your strategy.
Interested in hearing leading global brands discuss subjects like this in person?
Find out more about Digital Marketing World Forum (#DMWF) Europe, London, North America, and Singapore.