Social Listening Can Make or Break Your Brand: Are You Doing It Right

Cultural expectations for immediacy are growing every day. We are no longer as patient as we used to be. We hate being put on hold for any length of time. We lose our minds if we have to wait for a YouTube video to buffer. Scrolling through Instagram we expect every picture and video to be available the second it is on our screen and if it isn’t we scroll right past. Minute rice should be done in 30 seconds. You get the idea. We want everything now.
The same is true for our interactions with brands and companies online. If we tweet at a company, whether it is positive or negative, we expect a quick reply. Three-quarters of online customers expect service within five minutes of an online interaction with a company.  And that expectation is actually tied to their likelihood of spending money with that company.
Here’s why:
According to an AMS study, the quicker you respond to a customer tweet,  the more potential revenue you can gain from that social interaction. Think about that for a second. From the moment someone mentions your brand on Twitter a timer starts; the quicker you respond to that person, the more potential revenue you’ll see per transaction. That number goes up even higher if you are responding to a problem or complaint. You may not have thought about using Twitter for customer service, because, well it’s Twitter. However, according to this research, there is obvious value in real-time monitoring that more than makes up for the cost of the social media listening software.
In addition to using social media for customer service, many brands are realizing the necessity of engaging with their audience on a timely basis as a way to foster brand awareness and loyalty. MarketingProfs identified three key reasons you need to be monitoring the online conversation around your company or brand:
  1. Market research and consumer insights
    Real-time data is invaluable to your company or agency and can be crucial to conducting market research. Tracking who is saying what allows you to accurately define ideal target audiences and produce timely content based off of their conversations. Another important aspect of monitoring your audience’s social media conversation is that it provides you with real-time sentiment, giving you the opportunity to quickly take down that risque sponsored post before it goes viral. Knowing what your audience wants before they do can be the difference between being the leader in your industry and that other guy.
  2. Customer engagement
    For an example of phenomenal customer engagement look no further than Wendy’s Twitter game. Wendy’s is taking their customer engagement to a whole new level. This is a very different platform than typical television commercials and as such, they are maximizing its potential to send a very different message. They are interacting with customers, slamming competitors, and growing their online presence. This level of timely engagement wouldn’t be possible without real-time monitoring and reporting software. Tweets come and go in an instant, and each minute that tweet goes unanswered makes a meaningful reply less and less likely.

Wendys twitter

Customer experience and crisis management:

After an extremely frustrating experience trying to solve a problem, PRNews’ Jessica Nielsen was forced to forego the route of traditional customer service and went to social media. Instead of attempting to paraphrase, here is her first-person account:

Exasperated, I reached out to the CEO of the company via social media, hoping my broader, public appeal would result in action. I’m pleased to report I eventually did receive a response, but not until more than a month had passed.
Certainly this is a small-scale issue, but it is also a stark reminder that when something happens to a customer, specific actions must be in place to protect the reputation of the company. As their customer I was left to guess whether the company was incompetent or venal. The chance of this being an innocent oversight went by the wayside after my second call and direct tweets to the CEO.
How can we ensure this type of reputational damage does not occur? As communications professionals, we must make sure the connection between PR and the customer service department is solid, guaranteeing that when the rare but potentially inflammatory incident occurs, all possible reputational ramifications are addressed. This doesn’t mean we are responsible for addressing all customer complaints, but when a complaint is raised that might result in public reputational damage, communications should be part of the collaborative team effort to address it. Furthermore, the customer service department must follow up with the customer when the resolution is not immediately full and complete. Leaving a customer to address residual issues increases the chances that your reputation will take an unnecessary hit.
Bad things happen when you don’t listen.
While there is certainly a reward for swift responses, there is also a consequence for slow responses. The longer it takes you to respond to your customers, the more potential revenue you’re losing. According to NewVoiceMedia, poor customer service in the US costs companies $41 billion each year.
Customer service tweets
If you haven’t made it a priority to monitor social media, you are missing out on invaluable research, insight, and opportunity. Your customers are online. They are talking about your brand online. Or maybe they aren’t, you won’t know until it is too late.
Be a better listener
You recognize the pros and cons of listening to your audience, so now what? Where do you go from here? Here are a few tips to not only monitor the social media conversation but to be an active listener and use the data to make your job easier.
1. What is the difference between social monitoring and social listening?
Sprout Social’s Jennifer Beese makes the important distinction between monitoring your audience and listening to your audience. She states, “Monitoring collects every social mention and action, while listening requires analysis and reflection. With the latter, you can watch for patterns, track sentiment and draw conclusions based on where and when conversations happen.”
2. Listen to what people are saying about your competitors
It is obviously important to create monitors for your own brand name as well as keywords that apply to your industry, but an often overlooked tactic is to set up monitors around your fiercest competitors. Pay attention to how they engage in social media; are they quick to respond and interact? Are they a little more lackadaisical in their social media customer service? There may be opportunities for your company to swoop in and provide solutions to your competitor’s customer base.
3. Create a Social Listening Strategy
In order for your social media listening campaign to truly be effective, you must have goals behind it. What are you trying to accomplish? Just like your ongoing content marketing strategy, it is crucial that you lay out specific goals. By necessity these goals are constantly evolving based on business need, but you should have a starting goal. If you are new to the industry you may need to start by building brand awareness. You may find that you need to spend more time and energy monitoring specific keywords related to your space because there isn’t enough chatter about your brand yet. Or if you are more established, then you should be focused on sentiment. How did your last ad campaign do? Are people talking about you? Where you are and what your business objectives are should inform your goals.
In conclusion, here are some basic takeaways.
  • Listening to your audience is not only a sound investment, it is vital.
  • The quicker you respond, the more your people will love you and trust you.
  • Use a social media listening tool to ensure that you are never missing out on those crucial opportunities to solve a problem or entertain a perspective client.
  • Amaze people with the immediacy of your Twitter responses and they will love you for it.

About the Author

  Porter Plant - Content Writer at


Tags: Social Media, Social Media Listening, Social Media Intelligence

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