Once upon a time marketers had to convene focus groups or pay for costly studies to get closer to consumers. Today they have social listening tools literally at their fingertips to engage with and listen to customers and prospects in order to gain valuable consumer insights.
Can You Hear Me Now? Marketers Can Use Social Listening Tools to Listen and Learn
What is social listening? Smart marketers know that they should spend far more time listening than they do talking about their brands. Thanks to today’s social listening and other digital marketing tools, it’s easier than ever to listen and learn as consumers share valuable insights that can be turned into sales.
How long has “branding” been the buzz word for businesses – a decade? Longer? Given the fact that – even after this decade of branding, brand management, development of brand advocates and even a brand love movement – nearly half of US consumers say they are emotionally indifferent to brands, maybe it’s time for marketers to stop talking about their brands, and start listening, instead.
A recent survey of more than 6,500 consumers by Momentum Worldwide asked participants to categorize their relationship with brands in one of seven ways:
- partner or significant other
- close friend
- arch rival
Not only did 45% of US respondents categorize their relationship with brands as mere acquaintances, of these, 20% actually categorized their relationships with brands as enemies or arch rivals. This data follows a 2013 Edelman report which found that brands are failing to perform in the areas consumers say are most important to them.
The Edelman study is particularly interesting, because consumers were asked to indicate how important each area was and to rate their perception of brands’ performance for the same area. This revealed a large gap when it comes to how well consumers feel brands are doing in the areas they indicated were most important to them, including listening. For instance:
With the evidence mounting up, it’s clear that brands need to do a better job using social listening tools to strengthen customer relationships, create emotional connection and lay the foundation for customers to self-identify themselves as connected to the brand of a business.
5 Low-Cost Ways Brands Can Master Social Listening to Discover What Consumers Really Want
1. Social Networks
If your brand’s Facebook page has more fans than your marketing team has friends, chances are you are not well-positioned to listen to and engage with customers and prospects on social networks.
Most social networks require users to set up a personal account and launch a brand page as a business page afterward. Be sure that someone is authorized as an admin for your Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and other social networks that actually has a lot of friends, followers, fans or connections themselves.
Allocate time for engaging with users who visit your brand’s social networks and spend time following them and others social network users who fit within your target demographics on social networks to learn more about what is important to them, what they value, where they like to shop, and so on.
If your email sender is a “do-not-reply” at your business.com or some other variant, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to solicit feedback, questions, buying signals and other important insights from recipients. Every outgoing email can be used to provide you with incoming information that you can use to improve your business in some way.
3. Polls and Surveys
Whether scientific or not, the information, ratings and insights you could receive by using polls and surveys on your blog, website, social networks and email is limitless. Ask a new question every week or every month in order to find out more about your customers, prospects and other members of your target markets.
4. Competitive Research
Listening to your competitors on and off-line can provide you with additional insight not only into how they are doing in the marketplace, but what they are learning from their own customers and prospects, based on conversations occurring on their social networks, articles on their blogs or changes to their product or service mix, and more.
5. Experts and Thought Leaders
Experts and thought leaders that speak on topics relative to your industry or on other topics that interest your target markets can provide you with great information about what matters most to your audiences.
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