Unlocking New Potential with Social Listening in the Digital Era

Photo Credit: William Krause

A strong customer experience is the cornerstone of any successful business. Regardless of what you’re selling and who you’re selling to, the way that businesses interact with customers can have a lasting impact on how they perceive the brand, the products and the 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 discuss everything businesses wanted to know. Focus groups would validate general hypotheses for creative work, new product design and content development. Large quantitative studies would equip businesses with statistical data needed to support strategic investments aligned with validated hypotheses. For those with ambitious budgets, further validation through ethnography studies provided the opportunity to observe customer behaviours in various settings,  including stores, streets and homes.

Why invest in observational studies when customers have already conveyed their preferences? The consistent response is straightforward: people often lie. Regardless of good intentions, individuals occasionally provide responses they believe others want to hear. This behaviour may stem from discomfort in sharing genuine thoughts, fear of judgement or deviating from popular opinions, or a desire to stop questioning as a result of boredom.

People are complex beings, often necessitating the expertise of professionals to decipher their genuine thoughts and feelings regarding a business’ products and services. Customer data and insights are critical components to delivering relevant products and services as well as a great customer experience. 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.

Traditionally, social listening has been rooted in platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. However, people are shifting their attention towards audio, notably exemplified by the surge in popularity of podcasts. Advertisers possess an opportunity to leverage the power of social listening, tapping into the nuances of spoken discussion to gain valuable insights.

Social Listening distinguishes itself as a distant relative of social monitoring, extending its focus beyond numerical metrics such as engagement rates and likes. Its primary objective is to delve deeper into sentiment analysis, with an ability to discern not just what customers are doing but how they feel. Given the vast pool of over 4.95 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.

With audio on the rise, advertisers can leverage the human need for connection and the growing trend of consuming content on-the-go. A key reason audio is well-suited for social listening is its ability to convey emotion, tone, and nuance in a way that text often struggles to. With podcasts, listeners can tune in to discussions and interviews that align with their interests, forming communities around shared topics. Communication apps offering audio-based interactions, like Discord or Clubhouse, encourage participants to actively engage in conversations, fostering a sense of community that can surpass traditional social media interactions. By participating in or hosting discussions, brands not only have opportunity to build stronger relationships with their audience, but they can also gain valuable insights into customer preferences and trends.

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.

Identifying and addressing issues requires awareness of their existence. Instances may arise where a frustrated individual expresses their discontent via a tweet directed at the company, inadvertently misspelling the company’s name or tagging the wrong brand. Incomplete social media messages like tweets risk being lost in the vast expanse of social media, contributing to an unresolved and untraceable digital discourse.  

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 happening 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.
In times of crisis, whether due to unforeseen challenges or reputation-threatening situations, the pace of events can be likened to a whirlwind, demanding rapid decision-making from businesses. The challenge lies in making confident decisions without a comprehensive understanding of the entire scenario. Social listening emerges as a crucial tool, providing companies and customer service teams direct access to real-time conversations related to crisis.

Amidst a crisis, sentiments are exceptionally volatile and prone to swift changes. Maintaining keen awareness of the evolving situation can prove pivotal, distinguishing between a response that falls flat and a response that resonates with customers. Leveraging audio can provide unique insights into the emotional nuances of public sentiment. Analyzing tone, inflections, and overall mood can offer a deeper understanding of hoe people are reacting to the crisis. Social listening can be an invaluable resource for organizations seeking to stay attuned to the dynamic and complex landscape of crisis and make informed decisions that align with customer expectations and effectively manage their reputation.

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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