It’s every CMO’s worst nightmare: a social media crisis that has taken on a life of its own and is posing a real threat to a brand’s reputation. It could be a negative comment from a dissatisfied customer that’s gone viral on Twitter, an online reaction to a brand action offline, or an accidental Facebook post by the brand’s agency.
To develop rapid response capabilities, companies are shifting emphasis to technologies and platforms that make listening more important than messaging.
According to Altimeter Group, 42% of companies consider social media monitoring one of their top three priorities for 2013. However, a recent survey from J.D. Power points to the risks associated with monitoring: 51% of consumers simply do not want companies to eavesdrop on their conversations and 43% believe that monitoring is an intrusion on their privacy. The majority of consumers, 64%, insist that they want companies to respond to social comments only when spoken to.
Social, at its core, is about getting closer to the customer and monitoring enables it. It explores customers thinking, and how they are communicating across their networks and the marketplace. This is essential for developing a strong brand and a close relationship with those customers.
Monitoring is not inherently bad, but companies need to remember why they do it. It is to get insight into consumer needs, not just to monitor what they say. Meeting consumer needs, above all, is what defines a social media strategy.
J.D. Power recommends the following when in comes to implementing a social media monitoring strategy:
- Understand. Don’t just listen – understand what consumers are saying. Are you hearing one loud voice or a growing trend? Is chatter up because of a product feature or a great advertisement? Understanding turns information into knowledge.
- Consider the context. Are consumers reaching out to you directly or just venting to their friends? If the customer doesn’t invite you to participate in the conversation, keep your distance. Remember that their context—not yours—is driving their expectations of a response.
- Engage with reciprocity. In the e-commerce world, consumers have shown that they are willing to give up some level of privacy in exchange for better service. Likewise, proactive service that clearly benefits them is the best way to alleviate their privacy concerns.
- Explain why you are listening. Make clear that your primary reason for doing so is to provide the best possible product or service to customers.
Social monitoring is not without risk, but it has tremendous upside in terms of improving consumer insight, brand health and a powerful relationships with consumers.