By Diana Kilner
“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts.” Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com
If you were to host a party for 1.73 billion people (the estimated number of people worldwide using social media right now according to eMarketer’s 2013 forecast), how would you make sure every single guest enjoyed themselves? Jeff Bezos is a good person to look to for guidance, as the party at Amazon has been raging for some time. Amazon is arguably the most customer-centric company in the world, not to mention one of the largest, most profitable and most copied e-commerce businesses.
Bezos’ party analogy couldn’t apply better to B2C and B2B companies trying to connect with their consumers via social media. In a survey conducted by Conversocial, more than 88% of consumers admitted to being influenced by comments posted by other consumers on social media sites, just as one party guest might be tempted to try a canapé at the recommendation of another. But if one party-goer finds something that is not to his taste, and you as a host fail to hear him because you are circulating in a different room, he might share the news of his discontent with those around him, and encourage people to look elsewhere for a good time. The damage to you as a host could be colossal, and your guest-retention and reputation could plummet faster than the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange after its recent typing error.
Fortunately for you the host, or brand, there is a way to monitor your reputation in every room at the party, or rather, on every blog, forum, social network and news site. With an effective social media strategy and listening platform, it is possible to access every corner of the web to provide better customer service and manage your online brand reputation.
So how do you create and oversee successful social gatherings, if you’re still in the kitchen preparing the hors d’oeuvres? Below are seven steps to making your brand the heart and soul of the social media party.
Step 1: Building a social media strategy
As any good host knows, when planning a party there are three key decisions to be made: venue, occasion, and theme. Similarly, when planning a social media marketing campaign, you need to find out where your audience/consumer is the most active (the venue), what the overall sentiment regarding your brand/industry is (the occasion), and what topics and concepts are associated with your brand/industry (the theme). By listening to what people are saying about your brand, you will be able to determine an effective social media campaign with specific targets.
Step 2: Measuring your performance
After hosting one party, or launching your first social media campaign, you must listen to feedback in order to ascertain what aspects of the event people enjoyed, and what could be done differently. On social media it is imperative to listen to what your customers and potential clients are saying, as it will enable you to understand which marketing content is effective, and which content you might need to adjust. You will need to monitor the volume of comments about your content, as well as evaluate whether the overall sentiment was positive or negative, so that you can make necessary adjustments.
Step 3: Improving consumer satisfaction
Collecting feedback from your guests, and being particularly alert to constructive criticism, will help you to tweak the goods that are offered at your parties and potentially attract more guests to the next bash. Social listening will give you access to all the feedback and criticisms about your brand, allowing you to engage with social media users and tweak your product to keep your customers and potential clients happy. Not only will this help with product development, but it will facilitate relationships with social media users, leading to new clients and potential brand ambassadors.
Step 4: Managing your brand reputation
At every party, a good host will respond quickly to issues affecting the guests in order to maintain a positive atmosphere. Likewise, on social media, you must instantly identify potentially harmful comments or discussions about your brand anywhere online, so that you can react before it impacts your brand reputation. You then need to develop a Social Media Crisis Plan in case there is a similar situation in the future.
Step 5: Gaining competitive insights
At each party, you must make your guests feel important by engaging with them on more general topics and asking for their opinion. With a good social listening platform, you can stay current on more general discussions about your industry as a whole, both on news sites and on social media, which will be central to your strategic planning. You will be able to see if there is a product or service that is desired but unavailable, you will gain insight into typical reasons for complaints in your industry, and you will find topics being discussed by potential clients which you could use as a communication strategy.
Step 6: Benchmarking your brand
Finding out how your parties compare to other events in your neighbourhood enables you as the host to keep track of your performance accurately. With a good social listening strategy, you can benchmark your brand’s performance against those of your competitors. To determine your performance, you will need to monitor the volume and sentiment of discussions about your brand versus competitors, again by engaging in active social listening. Remember, you can influence these factors by engaging in discussions with these social media users.
Step 7: Identifying key influencers in your industry
Finally, a true host knows the importance of social climbing; you must identify the most popular people in each room and network. Social listening can help you to identify who is saying what about your brand and where, and you can rank each voice depending on his or her reach and influence online. By listening to your key influencers, you will gain valuable insight about your industry, brand and products, and you could even end up acquiring powerful brand ambassadors who will boost your brand’s online presence.
However, unfortunately for you as a brand, the social media party is slightly different from your usual soirée in that if you make someone unhappy they won’t tell five friends, they’ll tell 5,000, and no amount of free alcohol or vol-au-vents can solve the problem.
As you are reading this, millions of people are discussing your industry, brand and products on blogs, forums, social networks and news sites, and their words are far louder and more powerful than all of your advertising campaigns put together. In short, if you’re not taking active social listening seriously, then the party’s already over for you.
About the author
Hailing from London, Diana is a marketer in Digimind’s Paris office.
About the company
Digimind is the global social media monitoring and competitive intelligence company that provides businesses with unrivaled insights into their true standing in the market. Digimind’s proven intelligence technology has provided Fortune 500 brands around the world with critical information for their business for more than 15 years. Profitable since its founding, Digimind has a 92 percent customer retention rate and more than 100 employees across offices in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. For more information, please visit Digimind at http://www.digimind.com .