The holidays are the time of year when people open up and share their joy and appreciation for each other with celebrations and, of course, gifts. With so much of our social lives now online, and e-Commerce steadily growing as the preferred form of purchase among consumers, the holidays provide an incredible opportunity for digital marketers to learn more about their customers. All it takes is a little bit of listening—social listening, that is.
Social listening involves monitoring mentions of your brand, your products, or your services across social media platforms, and using those conversations to learn more about your customers and how to connect with them. Good social listening is essential for a marketer, mainly because your customers tell you exactly what they like and dislike about your brand.
BEST PRACTICES FOR SOCIAL LISTENING
With the right social listening program in place, brands can harness the power of social listening to guide their marketing and sales efforts through the holidays and beyond. But it is essential to follow a few best practices:
• Know where to look – While most discussion of brands happens on the major outlets like Facebook and Twitter, customers can mention your brand anywhere on the web. It’s important to do some legwork and find out where and how your customer base communicates. Something as simple as setting up a Google Alert for your brand keywords, or other terms that would be related to your products or services can help uncover mentions of your brand by up-and-coming bloggers, resellers, third-party review sites and more.
• Stay organized – Your brand’s relationship with your customers will not always be straightforward. People can interact positively or negatively with your product, and it’s important to create categories to keep track of what kind of reactions your brand inspires.
• Analyze – This is where your social listening efforts pay off. By pooling and analyzing mentions on social media you will get a clear picture of the impression you’ve made on your audience. Use this data to fine-tune your future social media efforts.
GETTING YOUR SOCIAL LISTENING PROGRAM READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Having a social listening program in place year round is great. But even the most established programs have to make adjustments during the building holiday season, particular in November and December when shopping is expected to increase by 3.6% this year. Here are a few key practices to keep in mind particularly during this busy retail season:
• Ride the holiday schedule – You really need to ramp up your social listening efforts right at the peak of the holiday season, which is generally the last week of November to the first week of December. In other words, if you start hearing “Jingle Bells” on the radio, it’s time to start listening.
• Monitor individual products – Social listening tools such as Social Studio from Salesforce Marketing Cloud can help you set up keywords and phrases around each of your products, allowing you to compare the frequency and type of mentions, as well as the sentiments behind them. Many people use social media to find recommendations for gifts or special deals, so pay attention to what products are being suggested.
Pay close attention to the language consumers are using to talk about your products as well, as it can give you insights into how you could better communicate the features and benefits of your offerings.
• Follow up – Social listening isn’t just about listening. Sometimes when customers mention your brand online it’s because they’re often interested and trying to learn more. Capitalize on frequent product mentions by engaging them online and replying to their posts. And of course, any direct questions posed to your brand online should always be addressed, as social listening provides incredible customer service opportunities, allowing your representatives to directly interact with customers and create a relationship between customer and brand.
THINKING BEYOND THE HOLIDAY SEASON
The holiday season will be over before you know it, but that doesn’t mean you can tune out on what consumers are saying about you online. Keep your social listening program on high alert well into the new year as consumers are using, returning, or looking to exchange products they received from your brand.
And remember, the opportunity to learn more about how your brand is being perceived online never ends. You’ll gain valuable insights when you monitor how the conversation shifts month over month, year over year, and season over season.