by Kenneth Rudich
A principal objective for social media marketing is to become better acquainted with the people that are most apt to connect with your business.
The idea is to monitor the interactions with them and among them to tap into what they’re thinking, saying, feeling, or doing, and then translate that information into actions that will enhance the appeal of, or the affinity for, your company and what it offers.
This concept is at the heart of what is commonly referred to as added-value, and it plays a critical role in an organization’s Customer Relationship Management (CRM) initiative.
the new “listening” and “hearing”
In this new contemporary business environment, the skill, the art, and the science of listening – and hearing – have become more important than ever.
Because social media democratizes the conversation about products and services, it has all but completely erased the once considerable advantage of having a goliath advertising budget. No longer is it possible for one voice to dominate the discussion, or drown out all the other voices, by virtue of spending more on media campaigns than anyone else. Those days disappeared with the advent of media platforms that give a voice to all who want one.
Nowadays, the better intent for business is to become more watchful, more observant, of the people participating in those discussions, and then use those observations to determine how best to interact with them. “Selling” has been replaced by “courting.”
Businesses that do the best job of courting in the year’s ahead will likely also be the ones that excel at leveraging the modern day ability to listen and hear.
qualitative and quantitative listening
Not that listening is actually new or novel. For the past thirty years, businesses have sought with extra effort to do a better job of getting into customers’ heads and understanding what motivates their purchase habits and decisions. But the tools for doing it back then were nothing like those available today.
Substantial improvements have been made in both the quantitative and qualitative possibilities.
Quantitative monitoring tools and analytics for staying abreast of tendencies and trends have reached unprecedented levels of sophistication and availability. Just as importantly, they have expanded in breadth and scope, recognizing that people don’t just speak with their feet anymore, but also with their keystrokes and clicks.
The capacity to collect and store huge volumes of data, and then have the means to turn it into chunked forms of information (dashboards, for example), has become part and parcel to businesses of all sizes and shapes. For many (if not most), the necessity to regularly invest in this kind of “listening” has become critically important to their survival.
But perhaps more striking are the monumental changes on the qualitative side. People are using their voices like never before, and they are doing the bulk of it online. The vitality of this dynamic gives greater access into what they are honestly thinking, not just doing. Product rankings, remarks, critiques, criticisms, reviews, and forums add substantial insight to an organization’s harvest of intelligence.
The important thing for a business is to doggedly follow it all, in real-time if possible, and go wherever it leads – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
the new “hearing”
Listening is fine, but converting this information into actionable intelligence requires hearing and understanding, followed by the identification of ways to gainfully use it – to court people, to create better brand awareness, to convert more customers. It is only then that you can make social media marketing a potential game changer for your business.
Different businesses have found different ways to employ social media marketing. Here are a few examples of some questions they’ve been able to answer:
- does it help shed light on the key characteristics of current and potential customers, things like interests/likes, needs, wants, friends/enemies, demographics, ego? Are you able to use those insights to enhance awareness, interest, engagement, conversations, and conversions?
- can you identify the influencers and build campaigns specifically around them to possibly stir the multiplier effect of social media marketing?
- can you identify the effectiveness of different channels, the best timing for using them; or smartly mix and match them with the target audience segments?
- can you enhance your relevance with each progressively executed campaign?
- can you integrate the extracted insights and information into CRM on an organization-wide basis, and maintain consistency?
- are you able to gauge the pulse of what’s going on with customers, constituents, and stakeholders?
If you can answer “yes” to questions like these (or others that may be relevant to your business), then you’re eliciting the benefits of e-llumination from your social media marketing initiative.