12 Most Brand Saving Reasons for Social Media Monitoring
I am digressing from my normal 12 Most post (sports-related, coffee-related or self-deprecating) to discuss a hot topic: social media monitoring. We all see businesses, and we may be the culprits ourselves, that are getting caught up with the herd jumping into social media.
But other than “because everybody is doing it” rationale, do we take the time to ask “why?” And if we come up with good answers to the “why,” do we recognize that we should monitor the impact of our efforts?
In fact, we should be monitoring our brands right now… and here are 12 reasons why!
1. People are talking about you
Pull up a browser and do a Google Search on your brand name. Then open up Twitter, and search your brand name. Holy cow, people are talking about you! If you are a restaurant or hotel, perhaps people are doing user reviews on Yelp or TripAdvisor. Maybe your products compel users to write reviews on sites like Amazon, CNet, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.
Then ask yourself the hard question: Are you part of the conversation?
2. People aren’t talking about you
What if you did the above searches and got Texas-sized cricket sounds as a result? What if the only mentions of your brand are your own self-promotion? Perhaps the worst-case scenario isn’t having negative feedback; instead, it’s discovering we are not even relevant to consumers! This result does not mean you breathe a sigh of relief. It means you get busy doing what it takes to become a relevant value-add for your consumers!
3. Your advocates are singing your praises
How often have you given a restaurant a shoutout for a great meal, or perhaps you praised a retailer for taking care of a sticky customer service issue? Did they respond to you? If not, shame on them! They missed the opportunity to thank you, to extend the dialogue, and to show consumers they are listening and responding.
Here is an anecdote for you: I was showing our Pulse Analytics social media monitoring tool to a restaurant. As part of the demo, I found a patron-uploaded YouTube video showing an infant that would do a “French Fry” dance to get another french fry. I asked the people in the room, “don’t you think you can use this?” Rather than spend large marketing dollars on traditional media, you could get this family to allow you to share their video on your Facebook wall and YouTube channel. In fact, you could use the video as inspiration for an “Infant Dance-off for French Fries!” And it might cost you the equivalent of a couple of “dinners for four!”
4. Your detractors are having a field day
Picture this: a young father with a sleeping infant on his shoulder. He has the door to this retailer propped open with one foot, and he is trying to pop the baby stroller across the threshold without waking the baby. Two employees are leaning against the clothing racks watching the whole struggle, and they do nothing to help! When the father finally makes it into the store, he doesn’t confront the sales clerks, and he doesn’t lodge a complaint with the onsite customer service. Instead, he sets the baby down in the stroller and proceeds to tweet his disgust for the world to see!
The serendipity is that we were giving a product demo to this retailer when the father’s tweet came across in a live feed. We were embarrassed by the profanity, and we offered to put a filter in place. One of the executives simply replied, “nope, we want to know exactly what people are saying about us”. And shouldn’t YOU have the same attitude about your brand? We need to find a way to turn detractors into advocates by acknowledging their issues and actively seeking to resolve them. Negative reviews and rants equal lost customers as that negativity propagates through the social graph. Don’t be this guy (a fun growtoon by Mark Schaefer).
5. Your competitors’ detractors are having a field day
I am a proponent of focusing on what your company does well and then promoting those strengths. However, there is nothing wrong with monitoring our competitors for both strengths and weaknesses. If we see the opportunity to showcase our own products and services as suitable alternatives for the consumers, then that is good business. We can even tailor our marketing and engagement to highlight our differentiators based upon the intelligence gleaned from social media channels.
6. People expect you to find them and respond… immediately
In an age where the two most responsive airlines responded to tweets in less than 15 minutes during Hurricane Irene induced delays, people expect to voice their concerns on their preferred social media channels. They then expect you to find them, engage them where they are, acknowledge their issues, and resolve the issues to their satisfaction.
7. You’ve been thinking of a new product/service idea
I recently read Erik Deckers’ and Jason Falls’ No Bullshit Social Media. It was an excellent “read”, and one outstanding concept they addressed was crowd-sourced product development. Think about it: who knows more about your products and your industry than your own customers? You could invite suggestions via a blog post and Facebook wall post, host Twitter chat sessions or Google+ Hangouts to brainstorm ideas, or even publish a YouTube video with an invitation to add comments regarding a proposed new product or service.
Monitoring helps you frame ideas because your customers are already talking about what they *wish* you provided now!
8. You hate to be the bearer of bad news
None of us want to be the doctor that has to talk to next-of-kin after a failed surgery. None of us want to admit we did not meet financial expectations or we need to issue a product recall. But if you have bad news, be proactive! It is better for that news to come from you where you can manage the emotional backlash with your company’s best long-term interests in mind. You can use social media channels as both an early warning system and an early notification system. Active monitoring and engagement will then allow you to manage “trouble spots” regarding disgruntled customers or negative reviews.
Using tools that both perform sentiment analysis and allow you to aggregate mentions across topics can also help you identify trends that might be precursors to bad news (like the need for a product recall).
9. That Return on Relationship (ROR) thing is the real deal
We can’t just stop at the monitoring and measuring step. We need to actively engage with our followers and customers. I use paid subscriptions to Pandora Radio, Sirius XM and NetFlix because I cannot stand interruptive advertising (unless it is an instant classic beer commercial or something with a gecko or a duck). We do not want our followers to stop engaging with our brand because we are only pushing our own agenda. We need to find our customers, and then establish a two-way communication to reap the Return on Relationship.
I’ll let the man who popularized the ROR phrase, Ted Rubin, explain it in his own words.
10. You don’t know what you don’t know
It is time for another anecdote: We were presenting our monitoring solution to a clothing retailer. These folks had a healthy brand. They were known for style, quality and good value. They had a great handle on the topics they needed to track, but it looked like they would just be baby-sitting a smoothly running machine. However, the monitoring tool did pick up on a concept they were not tracking — some consumers refused to buy from them because they did not offer free shipping! Here was a pothole they did not know about, and it had substantial enough traction in the social graph to warrant attention.
11. History is a great teacher
One of my earlier blog posts discussed the following equation: Good Numbers + Bad Decisions = Loss. It highlighted several case studies where large, successful, well-loved brands suffered crippling scrutiny and consumer backlash due to social media missteps. Read those case studies, and then evaluate your current processes for monitoring and corporate social media policy. It is always better to learn from others’ mistakes versus our own!
12. Your competitors are doing it
I still prefer focusing on being the best you can be regardless of your competition. Do things right, and the competition will stay in your rearview mirror. However, just like a rearview mirror allows you to monitor the people trying to pass you, social media monitoring allows you to monitor the health, relevance, and competitive edge of your competitors’ brands.
Monitor sentiment on your competitors. Measure your brand’s Share of Voice and Supporters in the social graph against your competitors’. And be well-informed and opportunistic!
So let’s hear your stories in the comments. Has monitoring already helped you out of a sticky situation or identified a marketing opportunity? Do you see the benefits of monitoring for your marketing, customer service, and even your product development group? Do you strictly monitor, or do you also actively engage and perform sentiment analysis?
Featured image courtesy of David Blackwell. via Creative Commons.