A great voice, but even better ears


Everyone knows that Twitter, Facebook and the various other Social Media sites are a great voice for companies and brands, and allows them to get their marketing and brand messages out to customers in a totally new way.  One thing many brands don’t realise is that they are actually a great set of ears as well.

Before diving straight into social media and  firing out Facebook updates & Tweets companies should step back and use social media to listen in to the conversation.  Social media gives businesses a unique opportunity to listen in direct to what its customers, competitors & industry influencers are saying.

By searching for keywords related to their business companies can gain a unique insight into what their customer base is saying about products, services and the brand. Along with finding out customers opinions on their own brand they can also find information on competitors and gaps within the market.  Companies can then use the information to develop and tailor their products, services, social media & marketing strategy and messages to gain maximum impact.

Step 1: Your Listening Tools

There are a plethora of tools available to help businesses monitor the online chatter; from the free tools like Google Alerts, Social Mention & Hootsuite to the premium more in depth tools like Raven, Sprout Social and Radian 6. As a starting point I’d highly recommend Hootsuite,  it’s a great Dashboard layout that allows you to monitor and manage all of the major social networks in one place, you can even upgrade to the Pro version to get more features. Along with the tools mentioned above businesses should also utilise tools built into the social media sites such as Facebook Insights & Twitter Advanced search to listen in to customer and market conversations as well as brand mentions.

Step 2: Listen

One great example of a company who uses Social Media to listen to its customers and utilise the information sourced via social media to develop its product offering is Stockport based ToxicFox, a personalised gift online retailer.  By listening to its customer base across various social media platforms ToxicFox has a business model based on reacting quickly discussion points and trends enabling it to be first to market with many hot topic products.

Perhaps the best example of this was during the now infamous Manchester United v Manchester City 1-6 Barclays Premier League match. In the 22nd minute City’s Mario Balotelli revealed his “Why Always Me” t-shirt which immediately created a huge buzz across Facebook and became a World-wide trending topic on Twitter,  before the end of the game ToxicFox had on sale a range of Why Always Me merchandise which became an instant hit.

Step 3: Engage

Once you have listened to your customers and target market now it’s time to engage with them.  Use the information you have learnt about your fellow tweeters & fans as individuals and as a market to interact with them and make them feel part of your brand. Use your findings to analyse, improve and develop your business. Now you have a new set of tools at your disposal it’s time to make the most of them.

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