There is no doubt that social listening is one of the most effective ways to keep on top of your company’s reputation. With billions of social media users, the amount of data available is staggering.
For many businesses though, resource, cost or social immaturity means there is either no listening at all or very high level. Listening for brand mentions is very easy to put together. But to be truly effective, regardless of scale, you need to be structuring for intent.
Why you need social listening
While there are many valuable data points that make up the “voice of the customer”, social listening represents what I consider to be the true voice. Unlike the other data points, which are often structured in their gathering, social feedback is largely unstructured. It’s to the point, raw and, particularly in some industries, emotional.
It’s through this that you get to the heart of customer experience not only with your brand but also brands in general.
Listening for intent
Intent represents an opportunity. By listening for intent, you can begin to take action the data you collect. There are three intents you should be listening for: the intent to do business with you; the intent to do business with you, if not for x reason, and most importantly, the intent to stop doing business with you.
1. “I intend to do business with you”
This first intent is true top of funnel listening. It helps understand the kinds of customers who are looking to purchase from you, or from a competitor in your space. While they may not have chosen you just yet, they are weighing options, which means you have an opportunity to influence.
Analyse the audience
Social data is rich, particularly demographically which is a basic, but strong, basis for creating buyer personas. Using these as the basis for ad targeting allows you to find which particular part of this audience resonates with your messaging. From here you can retarget both them and lookalike audiences.
By looking at the questions being asked, you can begin to plan the content that will provide answers and help guide further consideration and purchase decisions. This is not just content you create, but also content you curate.
2. “I intend to do business with you, but…”
Sometimes the path to purchase isn’t a clear one. This intent is where you will find the most CX improvement opportunities. It’s about barriers, both technical and psychological, and your opportunities to remove these. By listening for this, you can begin to prioritise what you should be working on.
It can be as simple as “I’ve been waiting on hold for a long time” or “your website isn’t working”. At their core, they’re simple things. But they are also the things that will send people to your competitors.
Granular tagging and volume analysis are vital
Through careful structuring of your query, and how you tag and categorise the incoming messages, you can find the most pressing customer pain points to fix. This is typically based on volume – the more issues you identify in one particular area, the greater the return can be for improving it.
Tagging should be as granular as possible. The website isn’t working? Is it the whole thing or a particular part? On hold for a while? Which department?
This kind of granularity is particularly valuable in organisations where sometimes the business priorities for CX improvements don’t line up with what customer may actually be crying out for.
It’s not just about you
While your focus is making your own CX improvements, you can also use social listening to understand what is driving people away from your competitors and build on that.
Good customer experience is about removing friction and pain points and making doing business easy.
3. “I intend to stop doing business with you”
Without a doubt, this is the one you need to watch out for the most. While the exact figure varies, it is considerably more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain one. Added to that, existing customers are likely to spend more. So you need to be active in trying to keep them.
This can often be the result of not addressing issues found in the second intent. The more barriers customers find, the greater chance they will go elsewhere.
Think about the amazing customer experiences now being offered by many businesses, particularly those that are digital at heart. Customer expectations have risen to new highs and tolerance is low.
When people expressing this intent, you need to be actively working to remediate through your social customer care process. Messages are often directed at your page specifically, through wall posts, public tweets, private and direct messages. They’re largely easy to find at the most important to address.
Context through tagging
Make sure you’re actively analysing all of this data to understand the potential opportunities and threats. Social data is almost always unstructured, so you want to have a way to categorise it to build the context.
Depending on the size of a business, this can simply be an export to a spreadsheet and context added. Tremendous value can be found however in a dedicated listening and response platform. These will typically allow you to create custom tagging to reflect your business. Depending on your business, it will be the brand, product, competitors, partners, sponsorship etc.
Analyse, adapt, action
This framework is by no means exhaustive when it comes to what and how social listening can work. What it does create though is a solid basis for delivering actionable insight. It’s important that you look at the data that is being generated, adapt listening to suit your business goals and work out what to do with it. This is where the true value is delivered.
Image: José Martín Ramírez C