Over the last few years, we have witnessed many efforts to capitalize on the potential of social media with mixed results to date. I’ve always likened social media to a boardwalk where each side is filled with pitch men and women trying to hawk their products and services to the potential consumers walking through the middle. The companies with the best (i.e. sexy) products and services have typically been the top performers. This has limited the opportunities for B2B companies to find the same level of success.
Even if there isn’t a place for every company to be a trending topic on Twitter, there is still tremendous value for your company in being the best LISTENER. Many social media enthusiasts have blogged about the importance of listening, but few have developed a full strategy around it as “contribution” is still prioritized by most. We utilize a listening approach at 360 Direct to stay informed about the latest news and updates pertaining to our industry, business climate, technological trends and community happenings. We recommend that every business, especially B2B companies, prioritize a listening social media strategy to best engage.
Jeremiah Owyang, of Web Strategy LLC, went a step further and outlined “The Eight Stages of Listening” in his blog:
- Stage 1: No objective at all – Organization has a listening program but no goals, nor uses the information for anything resourceful.
- Stage 2: Tracking of brand mentions – Like traditional “clip reports” of media relations, companies now track mentions in the social space. Despite tracking there is no guidance on what to do next.
- Stage 3: Identifying market risks and opportunities – The proactive process involves seeking out discussions online that may result in identifying flares-ups, or possible prospect opportunities.
- Stage 4: Improving campaign efficiency – Rather than just measure a marketing effort after it’s occurred, using tools to gauge during in-flight behavior yields real-time marketing efficiency.
- Stage 5: Measuring customer satisfaction – In addition to customer satisfaction scores, organizations can measure real-time sentiment as customers interact.
- Stage 6: Responding to customer inquiry – This proactive response finds customers where they are (fish where fish are) in order to answer questions.
- Stage 7: Better understand customers – Evolving the classic market research function, brands can improve their customer profiles and personas by adding social information to them.
- Stage 8: Being proactive and anticipating customers – Minority Report: This most sophisticated form actually anticipates what customers will say or do before they’ve done it. By looking at previous patterns of historical data, companies can put in place the right resources to guide prospects and customers.
Every company should determine their present stage and develop a social media strategy to listen before you speak.