Social Media Listening for Valuable Customer Insights
The prevalence of digital on-line capabilities has changed the consumer buying cycle. Consumers often independently spend the majority of time in the purchase decision doing research and comparison-shopping, acquiring information on their own without the seller even being aware. At the same time, potential buyers may be overwhelmed with too much readily accessible information, which makes buying decisions more difficult. Potential buyers may then seek trusted advice, often looking to what existing customers have to say about the brand, product or buying experience before making the decision to purchase. This interaction between existing consumers and potential buyers has added a new dimension to how marketers interact with their target audience and lead generation challenges for marketers.
Continuous Ongoing Conversations
Social media provides platforms for continuous conversations on almost any topic, including experiences with a business, product or brand. The commentary may be positive, negative, descriptive or just an inquiry or question. Consumers have access to independent communities of others who have already purchased or tried a product or service. A company needs to be aware of the conversations going on about its brand, its products and its competitors. Social media listening or social media monitoring are terms to describe the process by which an organization finds and processes the conversations on social media relevant to it.
Extraordinary Opportunity for Insights
The vast amounts of real time information and data provide extraordinary opportunities for insights into customers, markets, competition and trends. Marketers have traditionally used tools such as random samplings, focus groups and surveys to gage consumer or product response but these are limited in scope, slow to process and framed by the company. In contrast, social media listening is spontaneous, immediate, and dynamic – encompassing a global audience. The participants structure the conversations and thereby reveal information about themselves, their interests and motivations. This information can be invaluable to enterprises in their marketing and sales strategies if they listen, engage and apply the insights to improve sales, customer service, marketing campaigns and product development.
A business can get significant feedback by listening to the social media conversations of existing customers and a better understanding of many variables, such as:
- How people think and talk about the brand and if the brand sentiment is positive or negative
- What they like and dislike (packaging, price, quality or any myriad of other things)
- Features or products they are looking for or want
- Problems or complaints
On a different level, the conversations provide insights into the customer personas – demographics such as age group, income, geographic location; motivations; loyalties; preferences; and behavior.
Target Market Audience
Knowing the demographics and personas of existing customers provides valuable insights into the most relevant target market audience – consumers who would want or benefit from the product or service. A company can profile potential customer segments based on demographics, interests, or other parameters and attitude; and knowing the popular social media communities of its existing customers, reach out and engage to generate leads from those sources.
Social listening can also be used to monitor ongoing conversations with respect to a competitor’s customer base. It is valuable information to know consumer sentiment of a competitor’s brand or product, preferences and dislikes, as well as the customer demographics and profiles. This allows a company to make better informed strategic decisions in marketing and product development in order to meet the competition.
Influencers and Trends
Consumer trends are a major factor in sales in many industries. Social listening can provide valuable into market trends, revealing what products are most talked about and are creating the most excitement. A company might also identify influencers or thought leaders in the relevant industry, social media users who shape online opinion, and foresee upcoming trends by engaging with them.
These insights allow a business to anticipate and identify trends early on; and then take responsive actions such as updating or designing new products, creating a specific ad campaign or prompting innovation.
Social media listening can provide a wealth of valuable data that allows an enterprise feedback from its existing customers on its brand, products and experience. It can also provide insights on existing customers’ personas that transfer to a broader target market audience, a natural source of lead generation. Companies can also glean information on a competitor’s products and brand sentiment. All of this helps a business target its marketing efforts such as messaging and communications strategy, as well as product development decisions.