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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…

Business blogging masterclass

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”.

 

 

 

Digital campaigns

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.

Trapped in a lift with your competitors and a hot lead, what happens next?

elevatorWe’ve all heard of the ‘elevator pitch’. It’s the bite size, 10 second pitch that all businesses and brands should have at the ready. It boils down your offering to it’s simplest, stand out terms.  Let’s say you and your competitors are trapped in an elevator for real and a huge potential customer is there and ready to deal.

You open your mouth to wow them and then you and your four competitors recite the exact same thing.  This may get you thinking ‘Wait, how exactly ARE we better?’  You’re ready to find your key differentiator…


Repeat after me… How to bottle your lightning

Complete these simple sentences to see if you can narrow down your differentiator

“We offer …….. that other competitors cannot match”

“We aid customers that need …. better than anyone else”

Maybe that wasn’t so easy?  Don’t worry, you’re not alone in having to think a little deeper to capture that elusive spark of advantage.  In the modern market,  it is increasingly difficult to differentiate yourself clearly on product superiority alone.  Sure, companies like Apple can, but mostly it’s the intangible elements that fit together to make a company the leader, or an also-ran.  In other words, often service, customer interaction and even your brands story can be the game changer.

Identify, Nurture, Benefit

Your brand is unique, from its origin story, to its staff, its style of communication and advertising, its owner, its passion.  That heady mix is you, and how you deal with it and help your customers might be the reason they flock to you.  The follow up call your reps make the day after a big delivery, or your service agents make after a problem, these tiny interactions could be creating the special value that your customers really appreciate.  If you want to know if this is true, ask your customers!  They will tell you what you are getting right, as well as wrong.

They may like your light hearted brand personality, your hands on rock and roll owner or the calm knowledge your staff possess.  By all means test internally for this, but you have to think ‘outside in’ i.e. look for the differences others see rather than the ones you might be the only one noticing.

Once you have narrowed down these factors, promote them to your staff and nurture all the elements that make you a success – stay the course!  The benefits of knowing what makes you tick will come…

listen-300x300-resized-600A cautionary tale – Practice what you preach

Once you recognise your key differentiator, listen to your customers for signs that you remain on track.  Make sure to treat direct customer contact seriously at all stages of a purchase (from enquiry, to purchase, to after sales, to problems).  The golden rule today is that if they are talking to you, they are also talking about you.  Monitor all social media channels for any feedback, good or bad on how you’re doing – this is your benchmark.  Take action and respond to any chatter online about your customer’s experience with you.

For example, if you pride yourself on start-to-finish customer relationships and your clients find that your sales staff are ducking them once an order is secured, leaving them to deal with HQ for any follow up or issues, this goes against the whole purpose.  Ensure that your key differentiator is visible and working well across all stages of the customer relationship.  Otherwise, the disconnect between promise and delivery will drive your clients right into the arms of competitors.

If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

 

Why listening to your competitors audience on Social Media can greatly improve your online business

wltycauWe’ve all done it: eavesdropped on a conversation on a train, in a restaurant, on the street – it’s human nature.  Sometimes though, we’ll over hear some nugget of information that we can use to our advantage. A bit of ‘right place, right time’ opportunism can make all the difference!  This certainly applies to your business and its position of the digital marketplace. Monitoring your competitors’ dealings with their audience can gain you valuable insight into how the larger market works.

CustomerSegmentationBroadening/sharpening your appeal

Do you know who your audience is yet?  If not then you’d better get started. You can use tools like Facebook Insights or Tweetreach to get some starter information.  Once you know the vital statistics on your audience, eg. gender, location, age, look for segments where your competitors have a foothold and you do not.

Ask yourself, how did they get them, and how do they interact with them?  Use this information to tweak your own message, this will give you access to this untapped customer segment.

problem-freePre-empt problems before they occur

Monitoring your competitors can be used to future proof your business against upcoming problems. Customers can now escalate complaints and service issues with ease, and they are not afraid to do so!  You can fill gaps in your customer experience before your own clients even realise that one may exist, just keep a keen ear to the ground.

Let’s say you noticed a problem with your competition’s customers over delivery times.  So far, nothing has gone wrong for you, but it’s an increasing bugbear for their customers. Why not strive to improve yours further?  Implement a new next day delivery promise and make that your next campaign!

Use these opportunities to your advantage. Play to your strengths by locating chinks in your competitor’s armour!

surveyListen out for great client feedback

It is an old adage that for every ten complaints you get, you’ll only receive one compliment, but that doesn’t mean that compliments should be ignored. Customers will often post about their purchases to their own network. Be it bragging or genuine feedback to the company, these messages give real insight. Listen to compliments about your competitors, then cherry pick the best parts to strengthen your offering.

Etsy sellers (who live and die by word of mouth) now offer little ‘extras’ with orders, eg. branded stickers or hand-written notes.  This increases their client’s affinity for dealing with them again, and they will often tweet the seller with photos of the extra items and thank them for going above and beyond for them.  Of course, an active monitoring of this competitor will unearth these nuggets and allow you to add this type of value to your own orders.

In summary, no brand is an island, and you cannot hope to enjoy a harmonious and undisturbed relationship with your clients indefinitely.  If you ensure that you are keeping an eye out over the fence for how your competitors are doing things (their successes and failures) you can bring more understanding and better customer experience into your own backyard.  A little digital eavesdropping can go a long way…

 

3thingsyoucanlearnfromyouraudience

The TOP 3 things you can learn from your social media audience

Are you listening to your audience? You should, they’re the people that want your product or service. They are your market and they have more power than ever before.

Here are 3 things you can learn from your audience that will keep your business alive and adaptive.

1. Find weak links in your marketing, then fix them

Look for links and services that your audience frequently ignore. For example, links that never get clicked, or pages that have high bounce rates.Then go out there and talk to fans/customers directly, ask them what they didn’t like about the content or why it didn’t interest them. This will give you a strong insight into what works and what doesn’t. It’s far more effective than a generic questionnaire and it delivers real results. Armed with this knowledge you can quickly fix the weak links, ensuring your brand message is working

2. Highlight pain points in your service

Sentiment analysis will give you a good idea of how people feel about your brand or product. It’s not an exact science, but it is a good indicator of pain points/potential problems. To use it effectively, listen to what your audience says to you. Categorise these messages by sentiment eg (good, ok, bad) and then look for patterns. You’ll quickly notice inconsistencies in your service and pain points for your customers, be it poor customer service or technical problems. This knowledge is invaluable and it can be used to turn your business around, improving the experience for everyone.

3. Spot market shifts as they happen

The key to a successful business is adaptability. In order to adapt, you need to know the status quo of the market. That’s why you should listen to your audience. Who better to tell you the status quo than the people that are part of it? Don’t just listen to what they say to you, but listen to what they say in general. They’ll outline their problems and possible solutions, they’ll talk to people about their issues and they’ll post content that resonates with them. We suggest listening to key influencers in your audience, here’s why:

  • They tend to be ahead of the curve,
  • They’re a smaller sample, so they are an easier group to listen to
  • They are vocal about their problems.

Listening to this subset of your audience will tell you many things. You’ll quickly see the status quo of the market. You’ll see trends emerging based on the content they distribute. You’ll also spot shifts in the market that you can use to adapt your business. These are just 3 examples of what you can learn just by listening to your audience, but there are many more. Listening is a powerful tool that can be used to deliver real results. Get the edge, listen to your audience. If you’d like to be kept up-to-date on the latest Digital Marketing news, tips and trends, then signup for our newsletter here!

8 Tips for Success with Social Media Monitoring and Measurement

 

 

A 2011 Awareness report identified ‘monitoring social media’ as one of the main challenges facing businesses in 2012. At the same time, social media budgets are expanding with 75% of marketers planning to increase their social media budget this year.

No one can afford risk in a trembling economy. To achieve success you need to measure and monitor your social media efforts efficiently. Here are some tips to de-mystify measuring, monitoring and metrics and help you achieve success:

 

1. Plan to succeed

 

Establish a strategic social media plan by setting measurable goals that correspond directly with the goals and objectives of your business. The best way to set effective, measurable goals is to establish a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

There is no fixed set of KPIs that any one business should measure. However, important KPIs may include: the number of unique visits to the website, customer lifetime value, the number of comments and shares per post, engagement durations, conversion rates, number of downloads, traffic driven etc.

Focus on SMART objectives ensuring that your KPIs are specific to your business, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.


2. Listen to the conversation

 

Are you listening to what is being said about your business? Are you monitoring both positive and negative mentions? Listening consistently allows you to respond to comments and questions in a timely manner as well as enabling you to foresee and fend off crisis.

A 2012 AMAS report found that Irish consumers like to write about brands. Of the 51% of those who write about products, 44% post for advice, 15% post to praise and 12% post to complain. Be there to listen, reply and help or risk losing customers and credibility.

Also listen to what people are saying about your competitors. What do customers respond well to? Find out and use the information to improve upon your own strategy.

 

3. Analyse competitor activity

 

Examine competitor activity to assess how you are performing in relation to others in your field. To do so you need to understand competitor strengths and weaknesses . How long does it take them to respond to comments? How often do they write blog posts or update their Facebook status? Find the answers to these questions. Then make every effort to perform equally or better.

Take lessons from both stories of sucess and failure.  Remain vigilent, research and seek out creative ideas to improve upon your own strategy.

 

4. Monitor engagements

Not all engagements are equal. Your KPIs will help you determine the most important engagements to track for achieving your business objectives. Are you engaging your audience effectively? Are people commenting, sharing, bookmarking, re-tweeting, endorsing or downloading your content?

If people are not engaging you need to find out why. Are you not producing content regularly? Are potential customers unable to find your content through search? Find the problem and address it immediately.

Clarify the engagements that most often result in leads. Cultivate them with your time and resources.

 

5. Learn from leads and sales

Keep track of the number of purchases made online and where these purchases stem from. For example, how many purchases were made from clicking on a Facebook ad or a Twitter link? To measure leads that result in sales you can track URLs, analyse your social media traffic or simply ask people by email or survey how they found your website/deal. You can then determine the platforms and methods that generate sales and those that prove a waste of time.

 

6. Keep an eye on ROI

According to Awareness 58% of digital marketers and their staff have concerns over measuring Return on Investment (ROI) in 2012. There are many ways to calculate ROI so I would recommend searching for the formula that best reflects the goals and KPIs you wish to achieve. For example if the main goal of your business is to increase customer engagement, you may be interested in the following equation:

ROI = (revenue-investment) +customer engagement and idea generation /investment *100.

However, if the mere site of a maths equation makes you break out in fever, the new Social Reports tool on Google Analytics claims to be able to measure your ROI for you.

 

7. Revise and re-examine

Measuring your social media allows you to re- assess your priorities. Don’t feel defeated if you learn that an idea has not brought the results you hoped for. Take the opportunity to learn what works best and what doesn’t. Eliminate strategies that don’t work and focus on those that foster results.

Revisit your goals and KPIs. Are they still realistic? Social media plans should be iterative rather than fixed. Don’t be afraid to change direction.

 

8. Measure from the one platform

 

Save time and eliminate frustration by measuring all your social media from the one platform. Boss Metrics measures all your bought, owned and shared social media from the one dashboard. No more fumbling around for different tools.

As well as providing reports on key web analytics, Boss Metrics allows you to compare your performance against your competitors. The planning tool provides personalised reports, actions and advice to help you improve your strategy. Click here to register for a free beta trial now.