In December I read an article in the Vancouver Sun that inspired me. The article, called “How Social Media Have Globalized the Shopping Experience”, related how the writer, Gillian Shaw, simply had to Twitter about her choice for next car and lo and behold she got a response from a GM dealer offering her a test drive. Here’s an excerpt:
My Social Media Experiment
So, I decided to try this out for myself to see whether organisations using social media are actually doing a good job of listening and responding to customers and prospects.
First stop Twitter where I decided I would use the tool to plan a ski trip. So I Twittered:
To date I haven’t had a response. I tried a different tact and sent a Tweet to Sun Peaks who were listening to direct messages and did, thankfully, respond:
A few days later I got stuck in an elevator: what a perfect opportunity to see if anyone was listening and could help me. So I posted my dilemma on Facebook and Twitter. Followers we’re listening – I got 2 responses from friends, both in Alberta, both in no position to help me escape!
On to Facebook, where I commented on the Marks & Spencer Page about my frustration with their delivery service (more often than not gifts for my family in the UK arrive broken or damaged):
Here was an opportunity for M&S to respond to my concern and to correct it in the public forum, to enhance their customer loyalty but again I had no response. Very disappointing – this year I will find a more reliable supplier and M&S just lost a loyal customer of 20 odd years because they weren’t listening or were choosing to ignore my comments.
Shut Up and Listen
Whilst I might not have the following of a journalist like Gillian Shaw, I do have over 2000 Twitter followers and am very active online – I really expected to get more response to my social media comments.
What is my point here? I have two:
1) Shut Up – First of all companies should realize that we are living in a new world, one where they can and should interact with their customers in these forums to build loyalty and improve customer service. Your audience expects this and not doing so puts you at risk of negative exposure. This is no longer a push to market model where companies bombard their audience with one way messages but a two way street where they can build loyal and valuable relationships with customers and prospects and enhance brand value. Shut up about yourself already and focus instead on your audience and providing value for them.
2) Listen – the first step any company should take when approaching social media is to implement effective listening strategies. Listen to what online communities have to say about your products or services, company, industry and competitors. By doing so you will not only get a feel for what is appropriate (very useful when building your social media strategy) but you will also identify sales opportunities, chances to improve customer service and to build loyalty so that customers keep coming back. Our article Are You Listening? talks about tools you can use to do this effectively.
I look forward to the day when companies stop talking about themselves and start listening to and fulfilling the needs of their audience on social media. There is a vast source of information and opportunity about your company and your market online just waiting for you to tap into it. What are you waiting for? Shut up and listen!