Even as the business world grows more high-tech, business itself remains a fundamentally human activity. No matter your field, it's all about building relationships and trust.
It's why, as sports mega-agent Mark McCormack famously wrote, "All things being equal, people will do business with a friend; all things being unequal, people will still do business with a friend."
And just like your mother and Dale Carnegie said, listening is one of the best ways to make friends. That's what makes social listening and conversational marketing such effective tools for building a loyal customer base.
What is social listening?
At its simplest, social listening is really just listening to your customers and the topics they are discussing on social media channels. Its true power lies in its ability to pick up keywords or brand mentions without the user even tagging the brand, giving you an unvarnished look into customers' opinions and wants.
At it's simplest, social listening could involve monitoring popular social media channels and aggregating users' posts. At its most complex, social listening can be used to track customers' real-time perceptions of a brand or an industry, or the influencers with the most engaged audiences, without coloring their perspective.
New tools like Brandwatch and SproutSocial (used here at Informatics) help aggregate thousands of brand and topic mentions, uncovering customer insights hidden deep in the data. The investigative possibilities are virtually endless, and limited only by your timeline, budget and imagination.
SproutSocial breaks down the most common uses of social listening into five buckets:
- Brand health: What do people think of your brand and company?
- Industry insight: What disruptions or opportunities exist in a certain industry?
- Competitive analysis: What are your competitors doing right or wrong?
- Campaign analysis: How are people reacting to your campaign posts?
- Event monitoring: What feedback do people have about your event or conference?
What is conversational marketing?
If social listening is focused on analyzing what your customers say online, conversational marketing is focused on communicating in a friendly and approachable way that's personalized to a customer's situation. It's another way to make your marketing feel more human, which is more important now than ever.
Don't believe it? Consider the results of a recent survey from software provider Salesforce:
- 84% of those surveyed said being treated like a human, not a number, was very important in winning their business
- 66% said they now expect companies to understand their unique needs and expectations
- 52% expect offers to be personalized
Conversational marketing is a great way to build an authentic, trusted relationship with your customers, and to keep the conversations going. Whether it's through personal social media shoutouts or real-time responses, by asking questions and opening up the dialogue, you can learn more about your customers' likes and dislikes, while also offering a higher level of service.
By combining social listening and conversational marketing, you can gain a more holistic understanding of your customers, your competitive set and the opportunities that may lie ahead. Start small and experiment with different methods of listening and communicating to see what generates the most value for your business.
If you need help starting your social listening journey, or just have questions, reach out to the digital marketing experts at Informatics—we love to listen!