6 Steps to Successful Digital Listening

6 Steps to Successful Digital Listening

In today’s world, the customer is king and just like traditional kings, the customer will tell you exactly what they want, so you better listen. To listen, you have to find out what your customers are saying, and in today’s hyper-connected world, customers are talking online. But how do we listen to them online? Through digital listening.

Digital listening means locating and analysing what is being said about a company, brand or individual on the internet. The listening can and should take place across many channels – as many as your customers are located on – to get a full, balanced report of how people view your company, brand or product.

Getting started with digital listening can be intimidating. Venturing on to the internet unprepared and finding that there’s a whole conversation going on that you weren’t involved in until now can shock even a veteran marketer. So, where do you start? Read more

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Match Metrics To Your Strategy – A Focus On Facebook

We have looked at the main success factors in great digital marketing last week, so today we’re going to laser in on one of the social media giants: Facebook.

Besides your own website, Facebook is arguably your online shopfront.  With this in mind, using Facebook to build customer satisfaction is key but monitoring your performance is just as vital.

 

Facebook – Made to Measure

Okay, so you have built up a healthy following and you feel you are engaging your fans well.  Regular updates and the odd cat meme?  Excellent, but remember that every aspect of your Facebook interaction with fans can be measured to hone your efforts further.   One point to note however, is to link these metrics with your Facebook strategy.

The basic (and the most popular) metrics to note are fan count, likes & comments.  As these grow, they provide many a marketer with a warm and fuzzy feeling of success!  Simply speaking, a rise here is a positive step but if not allied to your objectives they mean surprisingly little.

Measure Against Your Goals – An Example

A brief example that this humble writer can recount was from time spent working with a local visual arts festival.  One early objective was a campaign for artistic submissions launched worldwide to give the festival an international flavour.   The net was spread wide to forums, Facebook & Twitter communities etc to attract them.  After this big push, the event’s Facebook friend count increased by 400% in three weeks!   Cue the celebrations, until the next phase of marketing began.  This was centered upon promoting ticket sales and attendance, where local fans are the obvious target.   The discovery was sobering – our hyper-inflated friend count revealed that most of these new fans were international, from Asia, South America, even Australia…  None exactly in a position to attend a festival in Dublin!

Ready, Take Aim, Measure

What to take from here is that while basic Facebook metrics often highlight positive trends, they may not be the right ones for your aims.

Looking to spread great content?  – Look for number of shares of your links, or its ‘viral’ spread

Promoting an event? – Measure if fans are primarily in your area, promote posts to local users only

Increasing leads & referrals? – Check Google Analytics, are clicks from Facebook to your website growing?

If you want to use social media to improve your business, you’re in for the long game.  Returns may not be rapid, or easy to pinpoint at first but keep your objectives in mind and stay the course.  Growing your Facebook presence must be a means, not an end.  Whatever your business is looking to achieve, use Facebook to assist these goals and measure to suit.

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Become a Monitoring Master and Generate Leads

Listen to your competitors customers, you might learn something! Getting honest and unsullied opinions from consumers regarding your competitors has never been easier.  In fact, you don’t even need to ask them!  Traditionally, surveys and focus groups have always been useful sources of measurement on customer sentiment. Neither, however, offer the currency and (arguably) the honesty of some discreet social media monitoring.

By now many businesses are using social media monitoring tools.  The most obvious application is what some call ‘Ego monitoring’.  ‘Ego monitoring’ is listening for any mentions of your own company online, be it positive or negative. This style of monitoring can be useful, but instead, why not take things up a notch?!

listen-300x300-resized-600Become a Monitoring Master

If you read yesterday’s blog on determining your competitor’s KPI’s, then  you have a perfect framework for zoning in on their strengths and weaknesses. One example we enjoyed reading about was from Harley Manning’s book ‘Outside In’.  Accor Hotels (owners of the Novotel and Sofitel chains) prepare daily reports from head office for their individual managers, these reports contain up to the minute customer sentiment online.  This way they can detect potential problems, branch by branch, and can then act to nip them in the bud before they snowball.

A savvy social media manager would have the same reporting set up, except they’d report on other chains in their market, such as the Radisson Group, Best Western and Marriott Group.  The company can probe for weaknesses in the competition across different territories.  Now armed with this easily sourced, hugely insightful customer data they can base a marketing or ad campaign around highlighting these shortcomings.  Cheeky yet highly effective!  All from gold plated, freely sourced competitor information.

David Vs Goliath – smaller size equals nimble reaction

A 2012 study by Conversocial has shown that a mere 13% of customer complaints delivered to the door of America’s biggest brands (including Footlocker, GAP) are responded to. They receive so many @mentions per week (over 8000 in some cases) that even the largest brands are buckling under the weight of this volume.

At home, with high streets containing empty shop units like missing teeth, independent retailers that are determined to grow could use this to their advantage.  Maintain a laser focus on the big players in town for these type of complaints and service gaps, filtered by geography.  A clever, smaller retailer could jump into the conversation, offer to fill the gap in experience the customer has suffered and hey presto!  You’ve got yourself a lead.

Now, just ensure when they enter your store that you have the means to deliver on any promise you’ve made.  But that’s a project for another day.  One step at a time!

 

Communities gang up to love their brands

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As we showed you yesterday, clued in consumers have formed communities online. They tell each other about what they want from life, what they have, what they need and what their favourite goods and services are.  Seth Godin calls these communities “Tribes” and you can learn a lot by interacting with your tribes.

Idea-mining your customers

Working with customer communities involves more than just support and troubleshooting.  You can also use them to mine for potential ideas and innovations.  Large companies done this to great effect. Some examples are Dell’s Ideastorm initiative, My Starbucks Idea forum, and of course Microsoft’s ‘I’m a PC and I designed Windows 7’ campaign that lifted them from post-Vista blues.  They admitted that consumers hated their last product, that they needed to take advice from users more and made it their launch campaign to great effect!

Strategy formation

Listening to your communities can help you switch your marketing focus from ‘push’ to ‘ pull’. I.e. in future your brand won’t push itself onto potential customers, instead you’ll be there to help customers when they are ready, pulling them in.

Listen to the problems they have, what they expect from you and how they use your product. Look at your business from their perspective and see your brand as they see it. Take an ‘outside-in’ approach and update your strategy based on their needs, this will let you target your audience better, improving your reach.

Stories, dealing with the bad and the good

When dealing with a negative stories sprouting online, the main thing to remember is that the complaining customer will have the sympathy of the community.  Whether it occurs on ‘neutral’ ground or your own social media pages, David V Goliath thinking often prevails. Communities need to be convinced that you are there to help them.

The customer usually holds the sway of public opinion (especially in a complaint situation), so tread softly, be polite, offer to take them ‘offline’ into a private email, phone or face to face conversation and resolve things there.

If they are talking about a good experience, then jump right into the conversation and thank them for their feedback. This will enhance their warm and fuzzy feeling, making them feel that they made the right decision.

Doing it right, an example

A great example of this type of community interaction happens daily on tripadvisor.com.  As the hotel and hospitality industry are so beholden to public opinion, hotels will often respond to comments. They’ll give an explanation for bad feedback or thank good reviewers for their kind words. Either way, this kind of interaction shows they care, painting a positive image of their brand.

Check back tomorrow for some success stories on making community outreach a priority…

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Finding Customer Communities Online

Anywhere that people gather online creates a community, whether its a handful of enthusiasts swapping tips on fly-fishing equipment, to giant consumer and business forums sharing ideas and experiences. Recent Neilsen reports state that over 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations for purchase decisions, whereas just 53% of people trust content written by your company about your own product or service.

What has changed of course is where this discourse takes place. Facebook is the new watercooler, Twitter is the chat over the garden fence, message boards, forums, even blog comments are the gathering place where every manner of product, service, business and brand are discussed.

The good news however, is that these conversations aren’t taking place in a hidden consumer clubhouse that your business will never learn the secret knock to enter. You can find these customer communities and listen to their discussions to enhance your own product offering.

Open Sesame… Finding the Door

Online communities are there to connect data and people, so naturally people will congregate where this data exists in easy to find pockets. This can of course mean that the usual social media platforms of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums etc are hotbeds of these types of conversations, but digging a little deeper and you can find all kinds of specialist communities such as

  • Industry centric communities like pissedconsumer.com, Tripadvisor, or tech repair forums. They can contain highly motivated, very active and extremely knowledgeable members, their thumbs up (or down) may stick!
  • Consumer advocacy groups such as Which? Local
  • Online investor forums, for example onlinetradersforum.com. These communities are info-loaded and highly attuned to the strengths and weaknesses of companies. Being negatively mentioned here could be a real alarm bell.

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Forewarned is Forearmed

It is now increasingly important for a company to know every nook of the web where chatter about your business may be taking place. These online tribes of like minded and information hungry customers can make or break your brand. In certain markets, even a smaller number of savvy customers can possess the knowledge levels and opinion leader status to deliver a word of mouth blessing, or kiss of death.

So get listening, get monitoring and get searching for these communities that will be discussing your brand. As Oscar Wilde aptly put it “the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about”.

 

 

 

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Preventing Disaster – How to avoid a social media crisis

A social media crisis can strike like lightning, and can feel like a tornado flying through your business and your brand .  Of course, once it hits you can manage it with a strong and consistent plan to calm the storm and come out on the other side without too much damage.  Like any trouble on the horizon however, good forecasting can help you sidestep the problem to a large degree.  This is where active social media engagement, and more importantly, studious social media monitoring can save the day. They prevent a light breeze from becoming a howling gale of negative opinion against your brand.

Monitor

The practice of listening to the market. Depending on the size of your company, this can either be self managed or outsourced. There are a plethora of great monitoring tools that you can use to look for any mere mention of your company online.  Google alerts, and more focused tools such as Sproutsocial and Mention can scour the internet for any mention of your brand (you decide the search term the program looks for).  It will pick up everything said about you whether its good, bad, or indifferent.  Once you see something negative, don’t stick your fingers in your ears and hope the problem goes away, reach out and engage the user and look for the underlying cause.  They may be picking at a thread that is about to unravel…

Engage

Make sure to talk with your customers online when they aren’t buying, or when they want to tell you something.  Share appropriate content that helps their own business and lives, they’ll appreciate it.  Over time, they will become an advocate of your brand and may come out swinging to defend you if a negative story surfaces to reassure others of your reliability and trustworthiness.

 

Be reputation aware online

Mediabistro.com reports that 33% of all social media crises are caused by the organisation themselves. It can be from their own official marketing efforts, or ‘rogue’ employees posting inappropriate material, replying to a complaint in a rude or insensitive way. This is especially topical right now in Dublin with several restaurants and bars embroiled in rapidly escalating crises over bad customer service and ill-judged, ill-mannered replies to comments online.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

Ensure that however big or small your business is, or how structured or ad-hoc your social media use is, that all staff taking part in its management know how to communicate in line with your policy.  If you don’t have an official policy, even a quick brainstorm session with your staff on what is proper and what would be taboo will get everyone on the same page.

 

In summary, look to turn a potential crisis on its head and instead use it as a means to strengthen your brand online and your business practices to boot, there is clearly opportunity available in equal measure.  I’ll leave you with the unwitting genius of Homer Simpson to boil it down into one word…

Lisa Simpson: “Look on the bright side, Dad. Did you know that the Chinese use the same word for ‘crisis’ as they do for ‘opportunity?’”

Homer: “Yes. ‘Crisitunity!’”

The Death of HMV – Why social media killed the music store

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There are many reasons why a business can fail but the majority of them are due to a failure to change the business to changing consumer needs.

It’s affects can be seen in businesses of any size, be it a startup or a large corporation, like HMV or Kodak, that just failed to innovate and change with their consumers. These failures could have been avoided had they been prepared to capture and act on the market intelligence.

The Death of HMV – Why social media killed the music store

HMV is an organisation that chose to ignore the disruptors. Despite their huge customer base and access to a treasure trove of content, they failed to innovate and accept that their product range was ideal for online distribution and marketing via social media and digital channels.  They were destroyed by changing consumer behaviours and the emergence of many new music players like iTunes, Spotifty and Last FM.

kodak-logoThe Death of Kodak – Gone in a flash

A series of bad decisions sealed the fate of Kodak. Despite knowing that change was coming down the line they failed to respond. While their competitors were grappling with disruptive technologies, they chose to ignore them, despite being the ones who had developed the technology in the first place. From a company who had coined the phrase ‘Kodak moments’ they had indeed missed theirs. The irony of Kodak’s sorry tale was the fact that the company’s initial success had come about as a result of their founder George Eastman’s ability to respond and innovate. He had the foresight to move away from the company’s core product and take a short-term hit for the long-term gain.

The evolution of Toyota – From strength to strength

Fortunately for the business world not every organisation chooses to take this ‘head in sand’ approach. Toyota, for example, ensured their continued success by listening and responding to the demand for products that were kinder to the environment and the US Government’s call for better fuel efficiency. In the face of breakthrough technology they were prepared to make the switch from one culture to another. 

engagement-smListen to your target market – Adapt and survive

Reinvention and diversity came too late for companies such as Kodak and HMV. Their inability to be flexible and respond to change ensured that they were overtaken by the march of technology. The good news for organisations who have taken their businesses online is that this doesn’t have to be the outcome. The real strength of social media channels and digital marketing lies in it’s data and our ability to monitor & measure everything happening online.

By gathering and analysing global data from blogs, social media channels and websites you are able to:

  • identify areas for improvement
  • devise appropriate strategies based on your findings
  • gives us an insight into the needs and problems of your customers
  • anticipate a shift in the market and respond accordingly in a timely fashion
  • make better business decisions based on data, not intuition

In addition to this, by examining your metrics we can determine the level of awareness, influence and engagement your brand is having on the target market. By utilising free and paid tools such as Google Alerts and Social Mention we can manage your brand in realtime.

If you would like some help to understand what your target consumers are talking about and how you can listen and act fast, we are happy to help you. Contact team@socialmedia.ie today to discuss how we can help you avoid the same fate as HMV.

Irish Political Parties – Social Media Analysis #BOTB

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Continuing our SocialMedia.ie ‘Battle of the Brands’ social media analysis series, this week we’re looking at the Irish Political Parties. We’ve analysed their data and their communication styles, seeing if we could spot trends, patterns or differences. Have a read below to see what our data analysts found out.

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What we discovered

  • Fine Gael and Labour use Facebook as a promotional tool for the party, often posting press material relating to the party and Ireland’s economy
  • Fine Gael and Labour often get negative comments on posts, which they ignore
  • Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein use Facebook to comment negatively on the current state of the country/government
  • Sinn Fein is the clear winner in terms of engagement
  • Sinn Fein is the only party to mention the death of Margaret Thatcher, which strikes a chord with their fans

Key Insights

A lot of people are unhappy with the current political and economic situation in Ireland. They know we’re in trouble and they are wondering what our leaders are doing about it. This is further reinforced by the media, with the news and newspapers frequently telling us about all the problems that the country currently faces.

This is why the least effective accounts are those that project a positive image. Their posts are always positive, which followers seem to view this as misleading, causing annoyance and negative comments. Conversely, people react positively to the accounts that criticize the current government. Both Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail use Facebook to complain about the current state of the country, which seems to resonate strongly with their fans. Fans feel like they are being told the truth, or at least part of it.

Of all the parties, only Sinn Fein is actively talking about the death of Margaret Thatcher. Her death strikes a chord with their members, leading to a significant increase in their fans. Sinn Fein are the clear winners on Facebook, consistently posting engaging content. They frequently post images and videos, with very few  plain text status updates. Other parties could learn from this.

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What we discovered

  • Parties are consistent in their tweeting, with regular tweets put out every day.
  • Fine Gael and Labour use Twitter the exact same way as they do Facebook, all their messages are positive
  • Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein tweet about problems and issues with the current state of the country/government
  • Limited engagement with followers, Twitter is used as an information source, not an engagement tool
  • Limited use of Hashtags across all parties 
  • Margaret Thatcher’s death is a hot button at the moment, Sinn Fein are using it effectively to drive engagement

Key Insights

Irish political parties use Twitter and Facebook in the exact same way. They have clear messaging strategies which they broadcast across both channels.

There is a clear pattern emerging. If the party is in power, they will post mainly positive material. We believe this is  because they want to project a positive image and don’t want to say anything that could paint them in a bad light. Those not in power will post mostly negative material which  comments on how those in power are doing a terrible job. They will occasionally tweet positive content about themselves. This is used to reinforce the idea that the current government is incompetent, while they are competent and would do a better job.

Yet again, Sinn Fein wins hands down. They have the most followers, they have the most retweeted content and they are the most consistent in their tweeting.

More to come soon!

That’s it for this week. Next week we’ll be looking at cosmetics sector in Ireland, looking at who’s doing the best and who needs some work.

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