As I talk to multiple small business clients, many view social media as an overwhelming threat. The reality is 70% of sales people who use social media are more successful than those who don’t use it. Social media is an opportunity that can be honed to benefit and realize strong ROI. In this post, I will go through a specific tactic of social listening, which you can leverage for lead generation and watch your business grow.
What is Social Listening?
Social listening may include the following:
- Keeping tabs on what your customers are saying
- Tracking the industry based on specific search strings and keywords
- Finding out customer views on competitors
- What customers are looking for in the industry
The real value of social media can only be realized if you’re truly a part of the conversations happening around you. And to bring out its importance, here’s a great quote from content marketing guru, Jay Baer:
Listening to customers is more important than it’s ever been because their feedback is manifestly public where it’s historically been private.
How to Use Brand Listening to Grow Your Business
1. Competitor watch
No matter what industry you’re in, it is important to keep note of all your competition. Before you go all out on a new channel and don’t understand what’s going to work or not, have a look at your competitors. Do not reinvent the wheel. You can analyze competition to figure out the topics they’re sharing, what kind of content they’re seeing engagement with, how often they’re posting and the influencers they’re connecting with. All these can then be used by you for your own growth. Not only can you gain more followers, by watching competition, you can identify customer pain points and provide an answer before competition, gaining loyalty and new leads.
How to handle this: While you can manually keep checking competitor social profiles, that’s probably not feasible as it’s highly time consuming and resource intensive. A better way to do it is to automate the activity. SEMrush has a newly launched brand monitoring tool that you can use to track down competition. You can also trace backlinks and find new opportunities for your brands. To gain new leads, it’s important to get in front of them.
2. Amazing customer service
Most of the times, we tend to downplay the effect customer service has on sales. The truth is one happy customer can connect you through to their own network of thousands. Over 90% new customers will take recommendations from family and friends. Therefore, it’s important that you know that your customers are being answered and their issues are resolved.
Research from Simply measured has shown that “the number of top brands with dedicated customer service [Twitter] handles has increased by 19% year-over-year.” From the study, AmazonHelp came out tops answering customer queries in less than an hour. Amazing, isn’t it? Naturally this has a good impact on brand loyalty as well as gets consumers to the landing pages where they are likely to change their mind or even get something new! 80% of all AmazonHelp responses directed customers to their site, which is a brand controlled user experience platform.
And it’s definitely not limited to Twitter. Warby Parker does an amazing job with showing customers how to clean their glasses, how to choose frames that suit them and other questions customers may have before or after they purchase. It’s interesting that the company creates content across the customer buyer stages from awareness to consideration to purchase.
3. Generating new leads
I’ll start with my personal story. As a small business, Twitter has been responsible for me finding my first ever client and many others that have followed. And I’m definitely not the only one who can say that. This has been possible mainly through content that I share and engage on with my social followers. Companies of all sizes have also used this space for generating new leads.
I’m a big fan of HiltonSuggests. They seek out prospective customers asking for travel and food queries and immediately answer back with suggestions. Now, these are not direct sales. Hilton teams often recommend without necessarily sharing their own properties. However, it allows them to build engagement and trust with prospective leads, immediately making a proactive connection! You can bet this is helping future sales and creating brand advocates. Hilton has found a permissible entry point into their customer’s lives. They’re focusing on building relationships. What’s not to love?
Hilton Suggests on Twitter
Another example is Cisco. They reported that due to the impact of their sales team responding to customers, the company attained a 281 percent ROI in digital marketing over just five months.
How to handle this: A variety of tools can help you here. Tracking hashtags and keywords can be made simple by setting up Google alerts which are free. BuzzSumo, TweetReach are also tools I use to identify the top influencers, specific hashtags and topics that are making the most buzz. It’s important to then take the next step to connect with their leads.
4. New product ideas and co-creation
Social media can come in handy throughout your product life cycle. From idea generation, to new product development and launch to post launch support. Kalypso research showed that 46% of companies surveyed indicated that they have gained more new product ideas by using social media in the ideation phase. A great example of this is the “mystarbucksidea” platform by Starbucks to engage and listen to customers who were tagging and sharing these ideas over social media. Dell’s “ideastorm" was another example of such co-creation with customers.
Customers, and especially millennials, are more than willing to be a part of the brand story online. A NewsCred survey recently showed that 62% of millennials felt connected and loyal towards brands as they read and saw online and social media content.
It’s important to use tools and track hashtags or keywords that you consider important for your service or industry to always be in the know. Have a look at one example by Brayola on Twitter (shared initially here). Direct new opportunity, right?
Brayola on Twitter
How to handle this: Depending on your industry you can also use the search or hashtag functions using the native analytics on Instagram and Twitter. To be able to consolidate and see searches on all platforms on one dashboard, it’s easier to use tools that generate conversations from around the web. Mention and Brand24 are my go to tools. In fact, Brand24 also allows you to select the reason why you’re basically trying to invest in social listening. Have a look:
5. Find advocates, partners and employees
Having an engaged community is the dream for every brand. Engaged consumers have the potential to becoming brand advocates. Brand advocates are willing to go the extra mile for your products and brands. It’s important to connect and identify these customers by watching your brand mentions and responding in time. Use relevant hashtags, keywords and find your advocates where they hang out. This naturally depends on your industry and need.
How to handle this: Use the regular social media management tools to answer and connect with your community regularly. Ask your community for action. “Double tap if you like,” “Tag your friends,” “Retweet,” etc.: these are all calls to action that really do get noticed by the community.
How are you handling social listening for your brand? Do share your favorite tips and tools with me in the comments below or on Twitter.