Ever have a bad experience with a product? Delay of flight? Etc? Did you ever tweet about the company, product, and/or your experience hoping for feedback from the company? This interactive relationship between consumer and brand is called Social Listening- and this practice is gaining popularity throughout the business world.
Social Listening is a fast, easy, and immediate way to interact with companies. However, companies have not always utilized social listening as an efficient way to communicate with consumers. In fact, in some cases, 7 in 8 messages to brands went unanswered within 72 hours. This statistic is critical when an Oracle study found that 43% of respondents stated that a direct response to their question is most important at a social media site and 31% expect the social media site to provide direct access to customer service representatives or product experts.
One particular example of the strength of social listening? Lululemon and the Sheer Pants epidemic. Lululemon actually found out about the “sheer pants” due to feedback from their frequent shopper blog(Landsman, Stephanie). Interestingly, it was store managers who “voiced their concern that they were too sheer” (Landsman, Stephanie). Lululemon was able to address the concern before the problem got too large- and too many negative reviews surfaced (Landsman, Stephanie). This is an example of how “social listening” can be helpful for businesses to further understand their customer base.
Below is an example of how Lululemon interacts with their consumer base on Twitter:
The definition of Social Listening is “the process of tracking conversations around specific phrases, words, and brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities to create content for those audiences.” (Beese, Jennifer). Furthermore, it is the process of “monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand and industry online.”(Social Listening, Track Maven). Social Listening includes the evaluation of both company tags and also instances where a company’s twitter handle isn’t included. Interestingly, 30% of Tweets mentioning your company do not include your Twitter handle, while only 9% are actually directed at the brand (Beese, Jennifer). This means that if a company only tracks data by “mentions” there may be a distorted perception of how customers view the company (Beese, Jennifer). It is important to not only understand explicit mentions of the company but also conversations that are more implicit in nature (Social Listening, Track Maven).
Social Listening is an important concept as social media plays a large role in the customer journey. According to an Oracle study, 74 % of consumers rely on social media to inform their purchasing decision. Consumers are more frequently going online throughout the buying process. If a customer is trying to pick a product, one of the ways to understand different options is to look through social media sites to see pictures, tweets, posts about specifications of products. Customers can analyze this information to see which product they should choose.
Social Listening helps companies be more involved in the customer experience. If a customer has to choose between a brand that is more or less responsive, they will most likely choose the brand that aims to understand their specific wants and needs and responds to their comments on social media sites. (Social Listening, Track Maven) This all allows brands to utilize “Social Listening” as a “proactive” way to gain new customers.
It can help companies “generate leads by solving problems,” and further understand the “problems and needs or their frustrations” associated with their product (Landsman, Stephanie). Furthermore, if companies analyze competitor product complaints, it can also help companies gain a competitive advantage over their competitors’ products (Landsman, Stephanie). In a recent article on CNBC, Tod Marks, Consumer Reports Senior Editor, states that ‘many companies now have dedicated employees who do nothing but troll the Internet for corporate references, monitor chat rooms, and online forums where there could be discussion of the brand”(Landsman, Stephanie). “Social Listening” can help to differentiate their brand, product or service from the rest of their competitors
Social Listening also helps with customer service- it can make it “easier to track customer complaints, give feedback, and ask questions” (Social Listening, Track Maven). Furthermore, based on the analysis of customer feedback, it can allow for marketing team to prioritize key issues addressed by the consumers (Social Listening, Track Maven).
With the variety of social platforms and the increased prevalence of customer interactions with brands online, it will be interesting to see where social listening goes to help drive business decisions. Customer reviews are often polarizing- either customers that really enjoy a product or dislike a product. Companies will have to weigh these comments throughout social listening in order to appropriately address customer concerns.
Beese, Jennifer. What is Social Listening & Why is it Important? http://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-listening/. November 2015.
Landsman, Stephanie. Love It Or Leave It- Growing Power of Customer Reviews. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100792646#. June 2013.
Oracle. Consumer Views of Live Help Online 2012: A Global Perspective