The nature of social networking among today’s consumers is such that opinions, reviews, criticisms and recommendations are constantly swirling through cyber space, unsolicited and often unchecked.
Do you know what consumers, influencers and competitors are saying about your brand?
With the irreversible shift in marketing methods from traditional to real time, companies need to be fully on board with social media best practices and actively joining in on the conversations about their brand. Discussions are going to happen whether companies are responding or present – a lack of active online presence or a discourteous response can hurt a brand more than anything a consumer complaint could do.
Social networking is much more than simply forming a presence – it is about listening to your consumers and developing a strategic plan based on their wants, needs and tendencies.
Utilizing listening tools is important for doing the kind of network sifting that you could never keep up with. Radian6 or Brandwatch, for example, are paid-for social listening systems that keep tabs on what others are saying about your company. Other tools, like Google Alerts or Hootsuite, can also offer free entry-level notifications about your brand.
Expanding Your Results
If you are using social listening tools, you will have to be careful to consider the limitations of language and common terms. Remember to include all common misspellings and shortened terms for your brand. Include slogans, tag lines, major employees and product or service names in your search parameters. Even broaden your terms to include abbreviations and emoticons in order to be sure nothing gets left out.
The result will likely be numerous results on a regular basis, but using a program to pull possible matches on various social media platforms will take minutes to sort through, rather than the hours you would spend doing a similar process manually.
Crafting Content Based on Audience Input
As you read what your audience has to say about your brand, products or industry, consider what kinds of ideas you can pull for future content. Take the opportunity during your regular social listening to note important topics for articles, tutorial videos or white papers. This will result in relevant material for your audience.
Jumping in with Both Feet
Respond quickly. Even if you don’t know the answer, let the customer know you are looking into it and then return with the accurate answer as quickly as possible. Today’s customer has a high expectation of how quickly a brand should get back to them through their social media inquiries.
Edison Research found that 42% of consumers expect their complaints to garner a brand response within an hour. In addition, 57% expected the same timing over weekends and evenings as they did during regular business hours.
Always keep context in mind when considering a response. Don’t fail to recognize the difference between a customer chatting with personal friends and a customer looking for brand support. Invasive trolling can occur when a brand isn’t paying attention to context. Responses can also cause harm when a brand doesn’t understand proper etiquette for the specific social platform they are using.