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Do you truly listen to your customers?

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By Mark Atterby

social-listeningSocial media listening is a popular practice for companies to understand more about their brand and its position in the marketplace. The true value of social media listening, however, is about understanding customers and what they value. It’s learning how to be proactive and interactive with your customers, rather than reactive.

Using social media for marketing requires a very different mindset to traditional marketing and advertising. Things are changing, minds are shifting, but organisations still fall into a couple of traps.

On one hand, there’s a tendency for businesses to use social media simply to push content and marketing messages out, expecting they will get leads like any other direct marketing campaign. On the other hand, social media is used to monitor brand mentions and react to customer complaints or enquiries. It’s viewed as another reactive channel like a customer complaints line.

In both cases, there’s a failure to listen and learn more about the brand’s followers, members and fans.

A successful social media strategy relies heavily on the ability to understand what customers value and the problems they need resolved.

A successful social media strategy relies heavily on the ability to understand what customers value and the problems they need resolved. Organisations who post content without learning more about what their followers, members or fans often see no increase, or even a drop, in the level of engagement they have with customers and prospects (www.socialmediaexaminer.com).

Social media is about generating proactive and meaningful interactions and dialogue with customers. Janet Meiners from www.americanexpress.com, highlights, “It helps to think of each social media interaction as if a person is coming to your physical premises or shop and talking to you directly. Online, people aren’t physically going to your business, but they should be treated as if they are. It’s even more important because the interactions you have with them are often public. Their friends and others can see how you respond”.

Social media provides an opportunity to be pro-active with customers. Too often it is simply used as another channel to push a marketing message where brands fail to interact with customers. I once worked at a software company, who ironically sold CRM solutions, who wouldn’t allow customers to post or comment on the company’s blog or social media forums. The main reason for this policy was that the company would have no control over negative comments.

Well the policy didn’t stop people saying and posting negative comments about the company on other blogs, forums etc. What it did do is prevent the company from understanding and responding to those comments or address the issues that had been raised.

Social media listening allows you to understand what’s important to your customers. But you need to be prepared to get involved and actually talk to them and listen to what they have to say.
June 30, 2015
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