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Clubhouse app

Photo Credit: William Krause

Could audio-based social apps like Clubhouse become an alternative to traditional market research?

A strong customer experience is the cornerstone of any successful business. Regardless of what we’re selling and who we’re selling to, the way that we interact with our customers can have a lasting impact on how they perceive our brand, our products and our people. In the not so distant past, businesses would invest thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of dollars a year on market research that would help them better understand what their customers wanted.

Countless methodologies, fine-tuned over decades by curious marketers and analysts, would turn out reports that would tell us everything that we wanted to know. Focus groups would validate general hypotheses for creative work, new product design and content development. Large quantitative studies would arm us with the statistical data we needed to prove we should invest against our validated hypotheses. And, if we got really ambitious and had the right budgets, we could even validate that set of data with ethnography studies that allowed us to watch our customers in action – in stores, on the streets and even in their homes.

From time to time, someone higher up would ask their Head of Marketing, “Why spend the money watching what they do when they’ve already told us what they want?” The response would always be a very matter-of-fact, “Because people lie.” No matter how good our intentions are, we all have moments where we tell people what we think they want to hear. Sometimes it’s because we aren’t fully comfortable sharing our real thoughts. Other times it’s because we’re afraid we’ll be judged for not falling in line with popular opinion. Sometimes we just want the line of questioning to stop because we’re bored.

People are complicated. It’s why we usually need experts to help us make sense of what they’re really thinking and feeling about our products and services. Customer data and insights are critical components to delivering relevant products and services, as well as a great customer experience. Unfortunately, more than 52% of companies in the last year have reported reducing the size of their customer service teams due to the current economic downturn. Market Research budgets are also on the decline as businesses shift focus to dealing with more operational matters in a time of crisis. Everyone is looking for more efficient and cost-effective solutions to determine what their customers are looking for. Surprisingly, those customer insights are more accessible than ever.

One hard-working alternative solution is Social Listening.

Social Listening is a distant cousin to social monitoring, but aims to look beyond the numbers (like engagement rates and likes) and dives deeper into sentiment. What are customers feeling, what exactly are they talking about? And with more than 3.6 billion social media users worldwide, there’s no shortage of conversations to track. This tracking can be done using tools that can search for specific topics, keywords, phrases, brands or industries.

Social listening helps companies track, analyze, and respond to conversations about them on social media. It can be a significant component of any customer service strategy, and here’s how.

It’s difficult to fix problems you don’t know exist.
Have you ever tweeted a company in a fit of rage, causing your fiery fingers to misspell said company or tag the wrong brand? This incomplete tweet can cause your complaint to land in the proverbial social media black hole, never to be found again. In fact, 31% of mentions on Twitter don’t include a company’s correct handle.

With social listening, brands can proactively look for keywords that may have otherwise been missed, and that’s important because 91% of unhappy customers are likely never to return.

Companies can only fix the problems they know about. Social listening can help with that.

Listen, learn and act.
Social listening can comb the internet for conversations that are happeing about a brand, a competitor, a trend, and so much more. Businesses that use this information for more than just customer service are the ones that will reap the rewards.

Social listening can do more than listen. It can help track trends in your industry and allow you to use that data to make more robust marketing or business decisions rooted in insights.

An extra set of ears in a crisis.
When a crisis hits, things can feel like they’re moving at lightning speed (usually because they are). Decisions need to be made, but it’s difficult for businesses to make decisions they can feel confident about without a full picture. Social listening helps paint that full picture by giving companies and customer service teams first-hand access to conversations about the crisis.

In the middle of a crisis, sentiment can change at the drop of a hat. Having a pulse on the situation as it’s unfolding can mean the difference between a response that falls flat and a response that resonates with customers.

Meet the new kid on the block.
Social listening has always relied on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram to thrive. But what if those conversations shifted from keyboards back to good old-fashioned audio?

Meet Clubhouse. Clubhouse is an audio-chat social network that operates by-invitation-only (think live podcast). It was launched last year by software developer Alpha Exploration Co. and was valued at more than $1 Billion US as recently as last month. Not only does Clubhouse meet the need for more intimate, casual and authentic conversations on social, it also blows things wide-open for social listening. Currently an advertising-free zone, brands have already started to take notice and brainstorm how best to leverage this new platform.

Apps like Clubhouse have the potential to act as mini focus groups for brands looking to get feedback on any given topic, which could take social listening to a whole new level.

Interested in learning more about how we can help your business gather actionable insights via social media? Reach out to start the conversation.

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