Let’s face it, getting noticed on social media isn’t easy. There are just so many competing voices and messages all vying for attention. Getting noticed is one challenge, but how about driving actual engagement with customers and potential customers once you are? That can prove an even more daunting task, but for now, let’s focus on the art of social media listening. The truth is that creating compelling social media communication requires a strategy. However, you won’t even get out of the starting block if you aren’t utilizing social media to listen and respond to your customers. In fact, listening is the first and most important step to creating successful social media strategies.
Being effective at social listening requires that you participate. You need to be involved in the social media universe to know what is being said. You need to be familiar with your fans and your detractors. Each needs to be listened to and understood in order to gain key insights about your business. Social media listening doesn’t just allow you to respond to negative, and positive, feedback in real-time. It gives you the ability to foster excellent customer service. Offering an excellent customer service experience via social media, and sharing that outstanding service for all the social world to see, can have a significant and lasting impact on your business. Brands such as Nordstrom have built their entire business model around this simple yet challenging premise. Responding to a social media conversation is especially difficult when dealing with a detractor or a negative comment. However, the age-old adage “the customer is always right” is as true today as it was at its inception. This is certainly the case as it relates to social media. Provide an exceptional customer experience by promptly, consistently, and empathically responding to any social feedback that you receive – and you will reap the rewards.
Moreover, today’s customers expect you to listen. If you are not tuned in, someone else (most likely your competitor) will be. If you ignore even one negative comment, believing that one comment won’t break the bank, you are forgetting the power of word-of mouth marketing. Your social reputation is an extension of your brand and company. Don’t let anyone tarnish it without offering a proper and professional response. One comment does matter. You don’t need to detail exactly what you will do to remedy the negative experience, but you do need to communicate. After a swift and appropriate response, you need to move the conversation as well as the resolution offline.
Protecting your reputation is one benefit of listening to social media communication, but it also provides insights on potential product gaps or other growth opportunities. Social communication is generally very honest. Questions or feedback regarding the brand are generally given in earnest. I can’t think of a better opportunity to respond to your customer’s wishes and needs than by utilizing customer and potential customer sentiment taken from social media conversations.
Social media is here to stay whether you participate in it or not. It’s time to embrace it by opening your digital ears and listening.