Today most companies monitor social media, in most cases watching and listening for mentions of their brands and products. They report internally that “mentions went up 9%” or “positive sentiment is on the rise.” Both are good signs, but both are also pale shadows of what’s possible.
When you invest resources in listening in the aggregate, don’t forget to listen individually to both your customers, desired customers as well as social influencers.
Our world is literally filled with people who are giving away great ideas and powerful insights for free. The information is just a few clicks away, but you have to want it and understand its power.
When you abstract these ideas, you eliminate 99% of the value. “200 people submitted recipes in our contest” is not as powerful as “here are the five best recipes our customers submitted.”
Of course, that last example sounds like it was based on a company promotion. But you can also gain tremendous insights and acquire many stunning ideas simply by paying attention to how individuals who resemble your customers share online.
Think of it this way: a retail fashion “customer” may also be a successful fashion stylist who uses Pinterest to share some of her most inspired trends (for free). Sure, you could hire someone like her, or you could also identify her as someone worth following.
None of this requires massive investments in technology or staff; it’s more of a cultural shift to pay attention to people like your customers and the initiative to – when you spot a great idea – build on it.
Why do I keep talking about people who resemble your customers, instead of your actual customers? If you’re in a B2C business, you most likely don’t have 100% market share, and the best ideas don’t always come from your customers. Plus, it’s still considered creepy to track individual customers online. So all you need to do is pay attention to people who resemble your target audience.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of using metrics to track social media investments. But, to do my job, I practice what I’m preaching here. I’m not shy about recognizing great ideas and real talent from the social media world at large.