So this is the first in a series of three blog posts I’m working with my friend Brandie McCallum on. The subject is all about listening on social media platforms. We found this topic to still be so overlooked yet so crucial to business in 2016 that we were motivated enough to write about it. She will be covering part 2 on her blog here and it will be posted on Thursday. Hope you enjoy.
It’s been an intriguing 7+ years on social media for me because I have used these platforms in every way possible. In the beginning I only used it “socially” but after a year or so I not only started a blog but also started promoting my then painting company online. Today I consult businesses on social media use. So these thoughts come from personal use as a consumer, personal use as a business owner, and from actually watching and interacting with businesses online.
“Online listening” is still, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked aspects of social media. Businesses have a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips. Actual customers and potential customers online talking about brands, products, and services. Actual customers talking about what they like, what they want, what they need as well as what they don’t like, want, or need.
The information that businesses can gather and sift through online is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Customers cannot interact with a billboard, a print ad, the radio ad, or a TV ad…BUT, they can interact online with other consumers, their friends and family, and businesses.
Each social media platform is different and should be treated as such. How you listen on these different platforms is also different. On Twitter you can use Twitter search to find specific conversations about anything from apples to zebras (A-Z) and everything in between. Hashtags are great ways to follow and track discussions on Twitter. You just need to find the relevant hashtags to your industry. Instagram is also heavily hashtag oriented.
Facebook on the other hand, doesn’t allow business and brand pages to follow personal Facebook pages BUT you can still listen to conversations happening on your business page. If you don’t have much of any discussion happening on your page you can go to competitor business pages and see what consumers are talking about there.
Here’s an example of social media listening that recently happened to me:
I recently had gone on Twitter and sent this tweet out:
April 15, 2016 8:54am
“Amazing how depressed I am over my #Canon camera needing to be cleaned but nobody around here does that. Unusable at the moment.”
Canon responded within minutes:
April 15, 2016 9:08am
“@MatthewLiberty Oh no! Get in touch with our team, and we’ll see what can be done! We’re at bit.ly/ContactCanon”
I didn’t even call Canon out using their Twitter handle (name). I simply hashtagged Canon and someone out there was clearly listening. This means they are following that hashtag to hear what people are saying. Within minutes they directed me somewhere to get help. When I had trouble with the website I tweeted to them again and they helped further by giving me a direct number.
On the call they informed me that my model Canon cannot be cleaned by them since it’s an outdated model I realized I will be buying a new camera soon. All this is to say, I didn’t even expect them to respond to my tweet, but they did. This allowed them to put me into their funnel and within the next few months I will be spending a significant amount of money with them.
Understand, this is one example out of thousands and hundreds of thousands that happen daily. There are brands that are doing it right, brands that are doing it but doing it poorly, and brands that don’t give a damn and think social media is a waste of time. Being human is the new “way to work” and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Listening to people, even when they aren’t necessarily expecting a response, is a good human to human action. And as a business you can use these platforms to follow conversations about you and even better, about your industry. What if Nikon had somehow caught my tweet and Canon had not? Is it possible I would have switched brands and gone to Nikon? Sure, it’s possible.
Social media listening gives you an opportunity to see what is being said about your brand, good and bad. It gives you the opportunity to fix the things that are bad as well as to say thank you to those saying good things. Something as simple as a thank you can increase the likelihood of a customer being more loyal. Showing that you are listening and responding accordingly goes a long way, even if you did actually screw up.
Be good to people and more often than not, they will be good to you. Social media platforms give you this amazing opportunity. Yes, it takes time, but it’s time well spent if you plan on having a thriving business for the long term.