by Drew Fullmer
Do you know what people are saying about your business? For all you know, you could have fifteen zero-star reviews on Yelp, three scathing blog posts being shared around Facebook and seven nasty tweets about a bad customer experience. Did you know this was happening? You should!
Social media is the true voice of your current and potential customers. But many of you might ask, why is this important? Warren Buffett summed it up perfectly when he said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.” Monitoring social media is all about maintaining your online reputation.
Social media listening is just as important as speaking - if not more so! I should know - I do it every day as Infusionsoft’s Social Operations Manager. Listening allows you to truly understand your customers and their needs. Millions of conversations are happening on social media every day and you need to be present in order to help define, build and - if necessary - defend your brand. Here are some key social media listening tools and strategies to help you identify and listen in on those conversations, monitor the internet and social media for brand mentions, and engage when the opportunity arises.
1. Identify relevant keywords and phrases to look for conversations happening in your space or directly tied to your business.
What keywords and phrases would customers or prospects use when searching for your business or the services you offer?
Google Trends is a great way to identify which keywords people use more frequently than others as well as find related search terms and overall geographic interest. For instance, we can see that people are searching for “Customer Relationship Management” slightly more often than “CRM.”
Knowing this, we can focus in on the conversations talking about the keywords that are are more popular. Try plugging keywords specific to your industry as well as your brand name, individual products and services you offer to see which phrases and keywords are ultimately being searched for more often. This can help tailor your content strategy, sales promotions and email blasts to focus more on the keywords people are searching for frequently.
Topsy is the Google Trends of the Twitterverse. Topsy shows the frequency of tweets sharing a particular hashtag or keyword over time and the context of those conversations. If we do a similar search in Topsy, we can see that “Customer Relationship Management” is used up to 1,000 times less frequently than “CRM” in the last month. Since we want to listen to the conversations about CRM , we need to listen to where the conversation is happening the most. Higher CRM conversation value means more opportunities to jump into the conversation when there is more volume.
Rank your brand name and products and services against those of your competitors. Use this information to determine where you should focus your attention when listening to the bigger social conversation. I’ll show you later how to use this information to help you drive success and change in your business.
2. Listen to key conversations that matter most to your business.
How do you know what people are saying? How do you know who is speaking? These tools will tell you.
Google Alerts is a great social media listening tool for busy entrepreneurs who may not have the time to monitor their brand on social media. Google Alerts will notify you via email when any of the search terms you’ve set up are mentioned. If we were to set up a search for CRM, we would get inundated with junk, so you’ll want to focus your alerts to your brand and specific products. You can set the frequency of these updates so you can keep your fingers on the pulse as closely as you’d like.
This is a hidden gem for social media listening tools. socialmention allows you to search for keywords and see overall frequency, sentiment, influencers, sources and reach. This snapshot provides a lot of great insights into the health of your business online and allows you to export this data for your own records or for you to analyze in Excel. You can see how customers feel about your brand with the sentiment rank and listen especially for those negative mentions so you can see what happened and help ameliorate the situation. socialmention also allows you to identify influencers so you can see who is talking about you that may have credibility in your space.
3. Monitor channels and keep an eye on where the conversation is happening.
These tools help you figure out which channels are most active for your brand.
Mention is similar to Google Alerts in that it lets you create an alert, but it pulls all of this data into a large feed which applies a sentiment score to each mention and identifies important mentions that need action. Mention also pulls data from millions of sources to monitor your entire internet presence at a glance. Want to know what people are saying about you on their personal social networks? Would you want to know when a new review goes live? What about that scathing blog article or the one singing your praises? Mention can pull all that mess of data into a simple stream for you.
Hootsuite is hands down one of the best social media dashboards. Want to know what is being said about your brand at a glance? Hootsuite provides simple feeds to showcase all your social networks in one screen; you can easily listen in on your Facebook Wall, monitor Twitter mentions, hashtags and keywords searches, and follow influencer tweets in one view. . The true power of Hootsuite is in its listening capabilities and search functions. When you set up a search inside Hootsuite for a hashtag or keyword (on Twitter), you can instantly see every tweet with that keyword and who is sharing it. You can also easily see who your influencers are by clicking on their username and looking at their followers, tweets and Klout score.
And when you want to get that conversation started to get reviews on your social networks, you can use this month’s Campaign of the Month, which invites customers to leave reviews with automated invitations.
4. Engage with customers, influencers and prospects when opportunities arise
When do you know when to engage, and how should you respond?
If you’re properly listening online, there are two types of mentions you’ll see online when you’re properly listening; the good stuff, and the not so good stuff. Unfortunately, people use social media and online channels to vent their frustrations with brands and companies. On the other hand, people also love sharing amazing experiences with their friends and followers.
Take advantage of both of these situations and respond to these mentions. If it’s a negative blog post, comment on it and show you care and understand their frustrations. If it’s a super happy tweet, the tweet them back thanking them for being a customer and maybe send them a nice gift. These are just a few examples of what you can do. But remember: You should always respond to the good AND the bad.
5. Take Action
What can you do with all this information?
While every business is different, social media feedback is applicable in many similar ways. At Infusionsoft, we use social data to help inform the business and make changes to help improve our customer experience. We listen across the web for mentions of our products, services, experiences and take that feedback back to our teams to make improvements or changes that can better serve our customers. For example in Spring 2014, we released our biggest update ever that gave our customers the ability to access Campaign Builder with Chrome. That was a HUGE success for us because we were able to bring the most requested feature on social media to our customers.
Social media is your customer’s true voice. It is usually unfiltered, unbridled and unrestrained (for better or worse), so don’t miss out on the daily opportunities to help your customers and your brand.
Use your new found customer knowledge to build killer campaigns that will increase your leads and drive sales with the free worksheet below: Creating a campaign strategy.
Drew is awesome. This is likely due to his awesome ability to play cello, his awesome eye for data and analytics, his awesome singing voice, and his awesome cat, Bruce (well sometimes awesome, except when he chews everything in sight). He also happens to be Infusionsoft’s awesome social operations manager which means he does awesome things with social media. He loves science, bacteria, technology, small business and especially classical music.