Nowadays, enterprises realize the value of listening and interacting with customers via social networks. It’s a proven way to improve relationships and establish loyalty for their brand among fans. Companies that ignore social networking risk losing customers. Yet many companies are unsure how to go about planning social initiatives and measuring their success. This puts them at a disadvantage. Here’s how these companies can leverage social listening and analytics to improve their bottom lines.

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Finding the Right Balance

Ignoring requests or questions on Facebook or Twitter can lead to discontented customers. It’s important for brands to listen to not only to their customers’ compliments, but also resolve their lingering concerns and valid complaints.

Yet companies shouldn’t get sucked into a war of words online. Respond to all valid requests in a factual manner, but don’t get too emotional. Companies should ignore trolls who only want to provoke a reaction, and don’t have legitimate concerns. However, simply ignoring problems doesn’t make them go away.

Many brands are afraid of Twitter, especially for resolving customer service issues. In order to be effective at customer service online, companies must invest in infrastructure. They must be willing to make a commitment to solve problems online, just as they would in a call center. According to socialmediatoday.com, “The good news, and despite the gap between customer expectations and what brands are actually delivering on Twitter, customers are overwhelmingly positive when brands take the time to actually respond.”

Using Social Listening to Measure Impact

By using social analytics, companies can gain valuable insight into customer motivations. Companies can develop stronger social relationships with their customers. By listening closely, they can create specialized products and services that fully meet the customers’ specific needs

Enterprises can also use social listening to see the impact of a specific social campaign. They can monitor Facebook or Twitter to see if an online coupon code is generating any extra buzz or if fans are simply not interested. This way, they can direct their marketing dollars toward the most effective social campaigns.

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Improving Internal Operations

Companies can gain valuable internal knowledge through social networks. This insight can make their internal departments more efficient. Perhaps their customers need a product shipped overseas, or maybe a local store doesn’t have enough salespeople. Either way, social listening makes it easier to discover these internal inefficiencies.

Implementing a Cohesive Strategy

Next, companies need a comprehensive marketing strategy for social networks. One person needs to be responsible for managing the corporate social network accounts. Sometimes companies are overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of social networking data. By using social listening software, companies can cut down on the external noise. They can easily follow different campaigns, include certain keywords, exclude irrelevant keywords, locate customers by location, and monitor different languages.

Seeing the Whole Picture

Finally, companies shouldn’t forget about other ways to gather customer data. As valuable as social networks are, it’s also important to focus on customer phone calls, emails, and letters. Social media is just one one part of a larger, integrated system to acquire useful customer information.

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