First, let’s get the concept out of the way. Social listening is nothing more than keeping track of your brand’s mentions on social media platforms. People like to talk about themselves on social media. And they REALLY like to talk about their consumption habits. Countless photos of what they ate, several videos of unboxing what they purchased and many rants about bad customer service they received from businesses. It’s all online for everyone to see. But, more importantly, it’s all available for those small businesses that understand how to use this information to guide their social media strategy.
And the fact is, with the Stop Hate for Profit movement where more than 1,000 organizations have paused their social media advertising spending on Facebook and Instagram, this opens even more space for small businesses to stand out on these platforms (remember that ads from SME’s represent more than 75% of Facebook’s revenue).
From social listening to engagement
The first step in your social listening strategy is to listen (we could enter a Homer Simpson “Doh!” GIF here). Small business owners can do this themselves, by logging to their social media pages and searching manually for mentions of their brands. This is feasible and recommended for those on a tight budget but be aware that it is extremely time consuming and requires insane discipline.
For SME’s that rather use this time on other activities, there are many tools in the market that can automate the entire social listening process, such as Hubspot, Sprout Social, Buffer and others. Monitoring becomes easier and the data visualization provided by the tools helps entrepreneurs with actionable insights.
But this is just part of the process. After listening, you must engage with followers and consumers, whether they made you a compliment or complained about their experience with your small business. This is where you must understand your audience and respond accordingly.
Praise and positive reviews are easy to interact and can maximize customer loyalty. Many people are thrilled when their favorite brand or business responds to their posts. This is also a cheap and effective way to expand your customer base, as people who interact in these posts see that you are a brand aware of what its consumers are saying online. You can also use these individual mentions in your Instagram Stories to extend even further the reach of this positive social media content.
However, if the consumer if complaining about your business, this is where it gets tricky. If you genuinely believe the customer is right on their compliant or perception, being honest and reacting quickly is the best way. Apologize, offer a refund, send a new product, whatever it takes to revert the customer dissatisfaction and demonstrate to those who saw the post that the company is willing to take responsibility and improve its service.
If you are not sure and need more time to investigate the issue, respond quickly, explain that you will look into it and say in how many hours or days you will provide a solution. Many companies make this mistake of just saying they will analyze the situation but don’t give a timeframe for their response. In my opinion, this is a huge error, as I understand you need time to assess my issue, but tell me how long it will take, it’s that simple.
For complains on Twitter, most companies like to take the discussion to Direct Messages, and I agree this is the best solution considering the number of trolls on that social medial platform that would just increase the noise and not help with a solution.
It is important to find this balance of being fast, honest, objective, but also protecting your brand from those who are trying to take advantage of the situation.
Expand to social media competitor analysis
Now that you have learned to listen to your business mentions on social media, it is time to leverage that knowledge to keep an eye on how your competitors are engaging with their followers. Map your key competitors, use the same tools, and monitor the good and the bad on their social media profiles.
This is the first basic step of competitive analysis and should be used as a source of insights that you can use in your business and social media strategy. For example, if you own a craft brewery and you see that one of your local competitors is generating a lot of buzz with their new Passion Fruit Catharina Sour recipe, a perfect beer for the summer and you still don’t have on your tap a similar light, fruity beer, this is an opportunity to create a new product that already has social proof and improve your ratings on Untappd.
Of course, with the use of data science and analytics you can go even further, creating competitive analysis reports to analyze visually where you stand in comparison to other companies, and using data visualization techniques that help better understand the data and provide actionable insights that can be easily applied to your small business strategy so you can succeed in this K-shaped economic recovery.
If you need help in this last item, our team at Spark SMB Data is here to help you transform Big Data in user-friendly reports with analysis focused on the small business reality, with a guaranteed and quick ROI.
The Number: 1,000
The Action: It is not enough to be a good listener. Engaging with your customers and expanding the strategy to analyze competitors are critical components to optimize your social media marketing strategy.