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Consumer or B to B; Companies Gain Advantage Through Social Listening

iStock-500395310Right now, there may be dozens, hundreds or even thousands of your customers and potential customers sharing information and experiences about your products and services; and about your competitors.

There is probably no more useful information than customer feedback to develop effective marketing strategies, gain competitive advantage and increase customer satisfaction. And, it’s right in public for you to see—online.

More companies are listening online to monitor customers and competitors, but most are a long way from taking full advantage of social listening to increase satisfaction, build market share and develop competitive advantages.

If you’re not engaged in social listening, or not using it to its potential, you’re not only missing what customers are saying about you, your products, services and competitors, but also opportunities to:

  • Understand customers’ pain points and needs to create more actionable marketing strategies
  • Build customer engagement and satisfaction, even among those currently dissatisfied
  • Identify and reach key influencers, particularly important to business-to-business companies
  • Build credibility, and be perceived as the leader in your industry
  • Better position against competition
  • Evaluate marketing and promotional programs
  • Understand “unmet” needs, key to developing new products and services
  • Understand your image, and the image of competitors

On the other hand, competitors are also using social listening to learn about your company, and developing their own strategies.

Social Media: The New Intelligence

Marketing today is increasingly driven by customers, true for both business-to-business and consumer companies. They have more choices. Shopping information sources are soaring, allowing companies and consumers to evaluate these buying choices before they are made.

Consumers and customers constantly talk with one another online, sharing experiences, perceptions and recommendations, both pro and con.

According to research by American Opinion Research:

  • After email, social media usage easily rates as the No. 1 Internet activity
  • Almost two-thirds of adults search social media before shopping or making a purchase decision, higher among millennials (adults between about 29 and 36)—a must-reach group for many companies, consumer and business-to-business

In addition, the vast majority of social media users rate “user generated content” as extremely credible, more trustworthy than advertising. They’re listening and paying attention to each other.

Social listening is now a must, not an option.

Developing a Social Listening Program

iStock-534428933_smSocial listening is not an end onto itself. Social listening is an extension of your branding and marketing programs designed to provide timely, actionable information to help defend and extend your brand and build sales and market share and customer satisfaction.

Data is just data unless it is analyzed and presented in a way that’s timely, useful and actionable. By analyzing comments you can gain vital insights and identify trends affecting your company and your industry.

There are, however, important, and often missed, nuances to building a successful social listening program.

  • Use social listening to understand your various customer groups

It’s vital to segment comments by various audiences.

Whether they realize it or not, most companies have more than one audience. The most effective social listening strategies develop, understand and analyze strategies to reach your multiple target audiences.

  • Focus on customer intensity

Understand intensity of social media comments; what drives customer action, as opposed to just talk. The more intense, the more important it is to take immediate action. There are very accurate approaches to measure intensity.

  • Analyze emotion

Emotional comments often reveal drivers and pain points that prompt satisfaction and dissatisfaction with your company. Measure, understand and act on emotion.

  • Take action

Social listening is just an exercise unless you do something with it. Social listening gives you the information to revise your marketing plan, if necessary, tweak promotions, develop strategies to turnaround dissatisfied customers, etc.

They key is do something.

For more information, contact Lois Kaufman at 609-683-9055 ext. 203 or email lkaufman@imsworld.com

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Lois Kaufman, Ph.D.
President, Integrated Marketing Services