In this guest post, David Hickey, director of media intelligence company, Meltwater ANZ, talks about listening to the voices of social media to get better in tune with your brand.
The business world is constantly evolving. New technologies are transforming not just consumer habits, but traditional business roles and processes. Once clearly defined — often literally by office walls — the territories of marketing experts and the C-Suite executives have started to blur, and overlap, in a way we’ve never seen before.
The overwhelming amount of real-time data available to businesses today has changed the very function of the communications team, none more so than the billions of conversations happening across social media platforms everyday. The insights harnessed from the intelligent analysis of social media data is now a concern for those in the boardroom.
How is my brand being spoken about by customers? What are the issues and trending hashtags Australians care about? Who are the key influencers in the local market? These are questions whose answers will influence and shape core business strategy — from new markets to enter, products to recall or redesign, or issues and causes to align the business with.
Businesses that want to compete in a digital world, where one in three Australians read their news first on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, must wake up to the reality. Those that don’t turn their attention to the importance, and influence, of social media will find they aren’t just falling behind, but not in the race at all.
Think social media insights don’t belong in the boardroom? Think again.
Inform smarter business strategies with social media insights
The biggest misconception business leaders have is that there’s too much digital data. There’s a huge pool of information (over six billion social media conversations daily) accessible in the digital world, and executives that know how to utilise it will have an unfair advantage over their competitors.
Those that look beyond their company’s own four walls for data-driven ‘Outside Insights’ are able to develop more intelligent, holistic and measurable strategies, driven by real-time online data that validates their instincts. What your gut tells you is important, but having data to back it up is invaluable.
Social media insights provide a holistic view of the company’s true position — what are people saying about a product? Bad: remove or improve it quickly. Good: increase its availability or capacity. Businesses that are not tapping into the constant stream of online conversations miss out on these customer insights, which will often lead to unnecessary costs.
Savvy organisations that are constantly listening and use the data to inform their business strategies have the competitive advantage to develop better products and services, and will see a 55 per cent greater customer retention rate, according to a survey by Aberdeen Group.
Break down the wall between the business and its customers
Customers know best. The saying has been around for many years, but not enough businesses embrace it as they should. A business’s brand and reputation is constantly shifting over time, so it’s important to know what is being said on a daily basis.
Today’s digital world has enabled any business, regardless of its size, to better interact with real-time opportunities and threats that arise, mitigate business risk and protect its reputation before it escalates. Issues should be resolved as they appear…waiting until the next boardroom meeting is way too late.
Customers today expect to have two-way conversations with a business, and quick responses. Brands today cannot afford to be invisible online. Being able to interact with C-level executives was once a thing of fantasy, but with platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, it’s now become a reality. Take Richard Branson as an example.
He’s a key influencer in the business space, but takes the time to respond to anyone that reaches out to him on social media when he has the time. Removing the wall that separates C-level executives (or face of the brand) from its customers will enable them to keep on top of customer sentiment, and make changes quickly if needed.
One-up the competition
Business executives can do their research, SWOT analyses and keep constant tabs on their competitors — but they are not looking beyond their boardroom (and there’s only so many times they can look at those four walls before they realise that the same old tactics aren’t working). The real drivers of success are not only what your competitors are doing, but what their customers are saying (or tweeting!).
Businesses that make the effort to understand the data available and turn it into actions can seize opportunities as they arise. They will engage customers with thoughtful, evidence-based tactics that show they’re listening and more importantly, responding when competitors aren’t.
According to an IBM C-Suite study, knowing what the customer wants will help businesses outperform its competitors by 60 per cent.
Technology has given businesses the tools they need to remain nimble as they grow, and stay in touch with their customer base 24/7. Those that listen to the conversations across platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and take this ‘Outside Insight’ seriously, will be the ones that benefit today and win tomorrow.