Thanks to Social Media Monitoring tools companies are now able to listen at an increasing rate, using a range of different tools to monitor what’s being said, who’s saying it, where it’s being said and who has the greatest influence.
Recessionary pressures are seeing companies increasingly shifting their traditional marketing budgets over to Social Media marketing opportunities. In doing so they’re recognizing the need for listening.
Keeping tabs on the consumer conversation however has resulted in an almost breakneck evolution of social media monitoring solutions to deliver consumer insights to companies. And there are no signs of the technology slowing down. If enterprises want it, someone will develop it.
What Are they saying about us?
Different social media monitoring tools focus on different things. Some focus on brand reputation management, some are more specific to PR or market research companies.Other solutions focus on user generated content residing within blogs and RSS-based platforms, message boards, photo and video sharing platforms and traditional media. Some tools use more passive monitoring while others allow users to jump right into the conversation.
What’s available? Just type “Social Media Monitoring tools” into Google. I found a long list, and since I’m not recommending any in particular will leave you, the reader to check them out. I may list some of them in a later post. Of course, if you use any particular tool and you’d like to share how it’s helped you achieve your social media monitoring goals (or those of your clients), you are welcome to share in a comment – as long as it isn’t a blatant sales pitch.
The migration of brand marketing messages from traditional media to social media is forcing companies to become better at learning how they are being perceived in the online world. Once they listen, they need to be able to join in and then act.
Ways to join the conversation
“Join in the conversation!” is the rallying cry of nearly all social media practitioners and it’s directed at companies. It isn’t always that simple. It’s impossible to be in every single conversation that’s happening at any one time, even if you know where they are happening and so there needs to be some strategy behind monitoring efforts. What are you monitoring and why? How does it help achieve business goals? How will it be translated to the bottom line?
Microsoft Windows Live monitors as much discussion as possible. But that includes over 1,500 discussion threads. For this to be manageable, according to Marty Collins, MWL’s Marketing Manager they “identify which topics to monitor by assessing where they can add value, which are the most influential and which have the most reach.”
Harnessing Brand Advocacy and Word of Mouth
Symantec, one of the largest software companies in the world has adopted an on-demand platform enabling satisfied customers to automate the dissemination of product reviews directly into websites. Focusing on brand advocacy Symantec used a “likelihood to recommend survey to identify loyal customers who might be interested in being brand advocates, inviting those who qualified to join a special program called Norton Brand Advocates. According to AG, the group has 7,000 consumer advocates, with an additional 28,000 lining up to get in. Symantec not only uses customer reviews, they are able to repurpose them in their marketing campaigns, email marketing and search marketing.
These are just two examples.
What’s It worth?
So you might get star ratings, star reviews, even glowing testimonials. Social Media monitoring can show you who is saying what about you. You then have to do something with the “intel” Should it be negative, you can fix it, positive your task becomes keeping it so. High numbers of reviews and testimonials are impressive, though and can play a huge part in influencing and acquiring new customers.
But what’s the value of a review? Of a hundred reviews?
That’s still an area companies struggle with. According to Aberdeen Group, only 17% of Best-In-Class companies have managed to put a monetary value on the number of customer reviews and testimonials. And BICs are the enterprises more likely to have the processes in place for linking customer insights to results.For Laggards (those far behind the Industry average) the figure is a dismal 8%.
Clearly there is still work to be done to establish a clear link between customer advocacy, new customer acquisition, retention, revenue and profits. Companies do need to listen to their consumers, the tricky part is how “listening and joining in” translates to meeting bottom line goals and profits and ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment). Social Media monitoring isn’t cheap.
Those key answers may be a while coming but it’s equally clear that doing nothing isn’t an option. Let’s do what we can and figure it out and see seems to be an alternative approach.
Reference: The ROI on Social Media Marketing: Why it Pays to Drive Word of Mouth Aberdeen Group, Feb 2009.
Share your thoughts.