Social Media Listening... Will We Learn?


Heart_12As we close out 2015 and begin the circle dance anew, there will be lots of predictions of what 2016 will hold in terms of marketing trends and must dos. This is not one of those posts.

Time brings perspective. So instead, I'd like to look back at one aspect of social/digital media marketing that was suppose to change the marketing game: from gaining a better understanding of our customers’ emotional profiles, to casual research insights, to more responsive customer care. 

Social Listening 

Ten years ago, or there about, Social Listening exploded into the digital landscape. It was positioned as the golden grail that would be the beginning of authentic conversational marketing. It soon became clear that unless you wanted to bury the new data it brought in garbled buzz words, social listening had better lead to a new customer communication channel where the brand could directly engaged with its customers. Back in 2005 that thought was revolutionary. Really! In fact, word revolutionary became a buzz word onto itself. 

If your brand ignored the digital pioneers who were using social media as a new customer service or communication channel you quickly saw how the brand's reputation, online as well as offline could be impacted.  When it came to the brand experience it seemed nothing was sacred or out of bounds for customers to tell their digital friends about the good, bad and ugly. Lest you think all social media posts were about the negative, Becky Carroll's blog Customers Rock told stories of great customer experiences... online and off.

We watched and learned along with the social media teams at Dell/Richard Binhammer and Lionel Menchaca; Comcast/Frank Eliason and Ford/Scott Monty as they publically walked the virtual tightrope. Sometimes they stumbled and fell and other times they got it right. 

The social customer service human-to-human mantra was a seemingly simply 3 step plan. 

Listen to your customers | Respond with respect | Go the extra mile to delight.

We soon learned it was not as easy as it appeared. New complex, sophisticated models evolved like the Customer Reference Program, created by Jeremiah Owyang in 2007.  Books about this new disruptive marketing world began to emerge. Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Isreal (2006) changed perceptions about how we would come to define this thing we called marketing. I was honored that my views were highlighted in two chapters.

And then it was 2015.

Social listening and social media customer service are built into most company digital initiatives. It's an old game now. Organizations from retail to healthcare to  food to nonprofits tweet, post, video, snap photos & snap chat in social networks.

Listening is an automated process that brings stats and key words to managers in pretty charts and graphs. Brands engage... sometimes. Problems are resolved... sometimes. It often seems the social media customer service goal is to respond to as many customer concerns as possible in order to have the social media (home/handle) stream appears as though the brand is listening and caring. Frequently I find there is no follow-up after the initial engagement.

Is social media customer service the new 2016 advertising complete with PR spin? With so many people posting, tweeting, instagram-ing and the social streams moving so quickly, does it really it matter if we don't relate human-to-human? 

And then it was 2016.

Time brings perspective. Perhaps 2016 is the right time to re-evalue how your digital/social media initiatives are executed and if they are supporting your brand values. No one promised this would be easy. 

All the best for a happy, healthy and however you define successful 2016.



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You nailed it....great post!

Posted by: Marianne Richmond on Dec 31, 2015 2:20:00 PM

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