As marketers, we put a lot of emphasis on the fact that social media should be a conversation. We have learnt to accept that an indiscriminate strafe of rhetoric online is not the way to do social media. Any conversation contractually obliges you to listen. Social media is no different. So, what happens if you don’t do social listening?
Well, the earth ceases to spin. All oceans rear up in one final last global tsunami, and volcanoes spew their ashen lava guts all over major cities. Within three to five years all human life will have been extinguished or mutated into some sort of light deprived Morlock.
OK, fine. It isn’t the end of the world.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t actually be some repercussions if you fail to take note of what other people are saying on social media.
So, what ACTUALLY happens if you don’t do social listening?
You could find out that you’re invisible
Some might deem invisibility as a superpower. Anyone who has seen Hollow Man knows this not to be true. For brands, it can certainly be catastrophic. If nobody can see your brand, then nobody is going to click your links. And, if nobody clicks your links, you might as well be invisible.
The problem is, if you aren’t listening, and you are still posting then you might be missing the point.
Whilst your nearest and meanest competitor has done the whole listening thing, they might be providing content that solves problems that your buyer personas have pointed out. Whilst you are still firing posts, those pesky competitors have been joining in conversations with your prospects.
But you don’t do social listening.
Nobody is interacting with your posts, because they are not relevant to them right now. You would know that if you had been listening.
You might not know why people are angry with you
Not everyone takes the obvious route to resolve their complaints. A lot of people prefer to avoid direct confrontation. They will sit through a bad meal or receive a terrible bout of customer service and not say anything.
Until they pull their phone out.
Then all hell breaks loose.
We have all seen those posts where someone is warning their 2000 close and personal Facebook friends about the terrible experience they have had. About how their steak was cold, and the waiter was rude.
Forty people use the angry emoticon. It doesn’t matter that only eight of them are in the same country. Because one or two of them share the post, or warn a few friends how bad the service is. The one person who doesn’t have any say in the virality of this bad press is your brand.
Because you don’t do social listening.
Imagine how easy it would be to turn this problem around. You picked up on this issue whilst scouring social media, and you were able to react. Moreover, you were able to do so on the same post, in front of all those forty angry emoticons.
In an instant you would look a lot better as you apologise, offer a discount, and promise to waterboard the waiter who was rude.
It literally could cost your brand moolah
Steven MacDonald points out that one of the benefits of social listening is that it “increases average spend per customer.” MacDonald’s argument contains a strong allusion to a study by Bain & Co. They discovered that if a company reply to messages on social media, those customers spend up to 40’% more with that company.
By responding on social media, you are developing a relationship based upon trust. By resolving problems in a public forum, and in a timely fashion, you are demonstrating that you care about what your customers have to say.
You could make up to 40% more on your sales if you would only do social listening.
You might not know what your arch nemesis is up to
I bet, if He-Man had social media, he could have thwarted Skeletor’s evil plans easier. Just imagine Skeletor posting “Feeling cute, might attack Eternia, IDK”.
So…maybe this was a bad example.
But you can see many things if you do a little social listening around your competitors. You can see what offers they are making. There might be a disgruntled customer you bring over to your brand. It might seem a little underhanded, but I can guarantee at least one of your competitors would do the exact same to you given half a chance.
Because you don’t do social listening, you may have missed out on many opportunities. You may find that your services and products are being undercut by a competitor’s campaign. You could lose a lot of money doing this.
Do social listening and find influencers.
Whilst you are on the vast plains of social media posting into the ether, there are other posts flying by you. By eschewing social listening, you aren’t finding out who is important in your industry. Connecting with an influencer can change things for your brand.
If you are involved in the same discussions and conversations as a major industry influencer, you are more likely to increase your total engagement. Curious people will check out your brand and engage with your posts.
Although likes and shares can often be accused as being vanity metrics, they do give a good idea of how well your brand is growing. Finding influencers can boost growth considerably if you engage with them online.
Wrap up and do social listening
To be honest, you would think that the way people are glued to their phones and social media, that a post like this doesn’t need to be created. We should all be avid social listeners by now. I mean, the only real time I talk to a lot of my family is through Facebook.
But when it comes to business, too many people are just setting up Hootsuite and letting it run posts out to the void. Every month or two someone checks their Twitter account to find that there is something like 70 direct messages and 100 notifications.
We can get so bogged down with getting our information and offers out into the ether, that sometimes we just assume that social media is working. We will check the metrics every so often to put in a presentation. But it really isn’t that simple.
I know my colleagues think that I am “playing with the internet” as I am going through the various social media accounts looking for conversations. But it is important. Social media is the best source of organic traffic, and you can’t do “social” by just saying things and hoping someone hears.
This is the human side of digital marketing, and yes, you should do social listening. You, or at least your brand, should be networking with potential buyer personas and customers. If social media is seems a little daunting, then this Social Media Tourist Guide is a great place to start.
As always, if you wish to add something to the conversation to help any reader get to grips with social listening, then please leave a comment below. It is always appreciated.