How Social Media Monitoring and Listening Can Make or Break Your Small Business

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In today’s data-driven economy, your brand reputation is the new currency. And, because everyone has the power to share on social media, it can be a benefit to your business or hurt your bottom line.

 

Before we help you listen and monitor on social media, let’s first define it. While there’s a wide variety of definitions and sometimes debate, Dan Neely uses an easy-to-remember analogy he used in an article for Marketing Profs when he said, “monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest.”

 

Social media monitoring is typically defined as tracking your brand mentions. Anytime your brand is mentioned, you should respond whether it’s positive or negative. It’s especially important to respond to a negative post, but you should also join in when it’s positive.

 

If someone gives you a positive shout-out on social media, respond by thanking them and sharing, or retweeting, for example, that feedback on your brand’s social media pages.

 

Social listening goes a step further than monitoring and includes:

 

  • Tracking hashtags and conversations related to your business or industry

  • Compiling and analyzing data on industry trends

  • Tracking your competitor’s brand mentions

  • Using that data to inform your marketing, customer service, product and content marketing strategies

 

With online shopping, in particular, your eCommerce customers are inherently tech savvy. In fact, during last year’s holiday shopping season, “one-third of all online purchases came from smartphone users.” Whether you know it or not, your tech-savvy customers are talking about you on social media and if you’re not responding, your brand reputation may be spinning out of control.

 

While social media does bring its challenges, it offers numerous benefits to your business. You can use it to gauge brand sentiment, share promotions that can drive new traffic to your website or resolve customer complaints. It’s a great way to interact with and thank your brand loyalists.

 

There are multiple approaches to take when it comes to using social media in a meaningful way. If you have an abundance of content to share, you’ll want to schedule and post on your relevant social media channels. But, if you don’t have content to share, nor someone experienced to handle it for you, at a minimum, you need to listen and monitor the conversations about your brand online.

 

Social media managers will tell you if have multiple social media channels you are posting to regularly, there are tools, like Hootsuite or Buffer, that make it easy to do. Both platforms have a freemium version as well so there’s no excuse to cross this easy marketing to do off your list.  

 

These same tools can also help you monitor for brand mentions or even track what your competitors are up to on social media. It’s also a great way to test interest in a product by getting real-time feedback from your audience.

 

On Twitter, for example, you can use polling to ask your audience which product you should launch. It’s almost like a free focus group for you and your brand to tap into whenever you need it.

 

If you haven’t set up your social media accounts and pages, your first order of business should be to to do just that. Even if you don’t have new, original content to share or someone to post to your business social media accounts, you’ll need your own account anyhow to monitor and listen to your audience.

 

For B2B or wholesale SMBs, LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal. For B2C brands, Instagram and Snapchat are more important. And, of course, Facebook or YouTube are great for either B2B or B2C.

 

Because a good percentage of your customers are already active on social media, another thing to keep in mind is that many of them prefer to use it to ask queries about your products or communicate a problem or issue. In fact, “57% of millennials (18-34), for example, say they’re using social media channels for customer service more often than they were a year ago,” according to a 2016 study by The Northridge Group.

 

In fact, many companies set up a seperate customer service account for that team to handle and address such interactions. If you have the bandwidth to create an additional customer-focused social media account, this moves the conversation somewhat away from your main social media accounts, isolating the mentions and activity from your brand name.

 

At a minimum, monitor what’s being said about your brand on social media and be sure to address any unhappy customers, in case that is their preferred channel of communication. Whatever you do, don’t leave your customers hanging without responding. Often, all many customers need is a response and to feel validated.

 

 

Categories: B2B eCommerce

Tags: social media, ecommerce, Customer service

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Molly Mehlenbacher

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