Social Listening- Understand Your Customer or Fail cat

What people say on social media is more important to your business than you think. Consider the case of the Hyatt and their “women having it all” campaign as detailed in a recent article from AdAge. Never heard of it? That’s because the hotel chain pulled the idea before it launched, all because of social reactions to the publication of Facebook COO Sheryl Sanberg’s highly feminist book, “Lean In.” After tracking over 80 negative responses, Hyatt switched to marketing tactics with less potential for controversy.

Responding to cultural trends is only part of social listening. As a business owner, you can’t be apathetic about your social media presence. Being active and engaging with your customers in real-time conversations gives you essential insights into the way they think. The more you know about your target market, the better off you’ll be.

Conversations are going on all the time across a multitude of platforms, so you’d better be prepared to monitor every single one that has something to do with your business, brand or niche market. Keeping an eye on the buzz your competitors are getting can’t hurt, either. By monitoring networks such as Topsy, keeping an eye on Google keyword searches and even paying attention to what articles your customers are reading, you can stay on top of the latest trends and avoid costly mistakes.

A decade ago, social listening would have been a foreign concept. Now, with social media at the center of daily interactions, if you don’t know what’s going on in the social world, you’re missing out. We’ve all had an experience with our favorite brands doing something we didn’t want them to do. The result is disappointment and, if the transgression is extreme enough, loss of brand loyalty.

What’s the bottom line? Being clueless about the social media conversations surrounding your brand can lead to disaster. Even conversations about unrelated topics such as the latest viral video can have a big impact on how you approach your customers. Don’t be the brand that everyone hates for doing something insensitive. Listen to social conversations and respond appropriately to maintain your reputation.