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The Importance of Listening Online
15 Jun 2016

The Importance of Listening Online

4435941091_0b71388773_mSince the time that companies started using social media for marketing and customer service, social media experts have preached about the importance of online “listening.” The social media meaning of “listening” means that you are looking for mentions of your company or your product. Sometimes these are really easy to find. If someone mentions you on Twitter, for example, you’ll see it in your notifications without having to look very hard. You also want to have some methodology for looking for mentions of your company or product that might not use your specific handle or even your precise name.

Monitoring social media for mentions of or allusions to your brand can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you may find really kind reviews. At other times you may uncover serious problems, and you have to have a plan in place to be able to work those out on the fly. You have probably heard all of this before, just like you’ve heard that eating a dozen donuts probably is not going to help your health. Do you take it to heart, however?

“I’m so livid.”

While doing social media research for a client, I was looking for how their competitors handle social media marketing. I approach this in a lot of ways, but one of the first things I do on Facebook is a search. This uncovers the company page along with mentions from people around the Facebook world. I put the competitor’s name into the search bar, and one of the first results I got was a complaint a few paragraphs long WITH a picture of the problem. “I’m so livid,” the complaint begins. It turned out that the product promised to do a lot of things, and for the most part it did the complete opposite.

I noticed two interesting things when I found this post. First, despite the obvious passionate response of the person posting, the company did not reply at all. Additionally, the post appeared slightly shaded and there was a note that said the post had been hidden from the company’s page. Clearly this competitor of our client has blocked all comments to their page, but because this was a mention, it shows up in search results quite prominently. This makes the company look doubly bad.

Opening the Door to Your Competition

We showed this example to our client and made a couple of points. First of all, our client has a ready-made list of flaws to attack in the competition (with pictures!). Even more fun, however, was mentioning that since the company did not bother to respond, our client easily could. It was a public post, after all. Our client could pop on there and say, “Wow, so sorry to hear this happened. Here’s a way to fix things, and by the way our product does not cause these problems.” Would the company notice that comment? If they aren’t listening, probably not.

You Can Listen Without Responding (If You Want)

In social media, just like in the non-digital world, you can listen without the intent to respond. Online listening teaches you a lot, but not everything is actionable. If you are repeatedly finding the same complaint about a product of yours, you may want to meet with your product development team and your customer service team before saying anything in public. That way you can make sure your responses are on point, consistent, and accurate. The main point is to be sure you’re listening first. Plans based on that listening can come later.

Are you listening online? If you aren’t, you may be missing a world of opportunities ranging from learning about potential issues with competitive products to hearing rave reviews about your company. It’s never too late to get started. Turn those ears on today.

Image Credit: via Creative Commons

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