Realising the commercial gain to be had from social listening.

How are you dealing with the noise around your brand?  Can you even bring yourself to listen to it?

If you are not listening, then you are probably missing out on a lot of valuable information.

This information can help you work out the next big thing in your business world.  And it is freely available. All you need to do is listen!

Listening to this media helps your business differentiate itself and its offering from your competitors.

In a world where so many service offerings look the same, there is a need to give some direct consideration to why someone would choose your brand in preference to another.

Brand preference is something that is being spoken about everyday in social.  People are looking for that service offering that is engaging and empathetic to their needs.

Is your service offering engaging? Are your people empathetic? Do people in your organisation understand the organisation’s purpose and vision for tomorrow and beyond? Do you respect the attention your brand receives on a daily basis?

Respect is measured in how we engage both virtually and in the real world conversation with our customer base. Both conversations are fuelled by an organisation’s awareness of what is being said about its service or product offering.

McKinsey & Company confirmed in an article published in February of this year that one global company is contemplating the inclusion of social-media awareness in its hiring criteria for some managers, to build its networks and to free its management team from ‘well-rehearsed habits’.

The same McKinsey article examined how business is gaining benefit from listening to those weak signals that emanate from social media interactions.  As indicated in the article, listening to weak signals may appear to be an unusual technique. However, it is a technique that produces tangible results.  The article made reference to the following examples:

The US retailer, Nordstrom took an interest in what Pinterest could do for its business. The retailer took to displaying its products on Pinterest.

Those images generated significant interest, a fact confirmed by their Pinterest account having some 4 million followers.  The success of its Pinterest play has seen the retailer displaying popular Pinterest items in two of its Seattle stores. This is one of many ways that has allowed the brand to have a deeper engagement and more meaningful interactions with its customer base.

McKinsey argue that as these types of opportunities mature and become more prevalent across different industries, they expect visual tools like Pinterest to be increasingly useful in detecting and capitalising on social signals.

The other example outlined by McKinsey was based on the engagement activities of TomTom.

The navigational company have used the social feedback mechanism to improve its product-development process.

TomTom is no stranger to data mining the social messages that surround its brand. It monitors its social media closely.  It has used this information to feed data back to its marketing chiefs. Recently, the use of this data changed after TomTom uncovered a UK forum that was discussing TomTom connectivity issues. These messages were on sent to the product development team.  The product team then worked in concert with those who raised the issues to resolve them.

As McKinsey noted, the TomTom solution of working in real time with the folk who raised the complaint in the forum saved TomTom from having to send drivers out into the field to replicate the fault. This saved many man-hours and represented a significant cost saving.  Savings that resulted from their social listening.

These two examples indicate that it is important to have people or teams charged with the responsibility to listen to what is being said in the social arena. The signals, strong or weak, will have an impact on how the organisation chooses to engage with its audience.  The audience can now change how the organisation responds and how the organisation arranges itself internally to take advantage of the social offering.

References in this article to McKinsey are taken from an article entitled, ‘The strength of ‘weak signals’ by Martin Harryson, Estelle Metayer and Hugo Sarrazin