Are Your Customers (and Prospects) Talking About You?

September 20, 2012 - 3 Comments

I’m sure you know what your customers want – you talk to them all the time, right? But what do they say about you – or your products, employees, website – when you aren’t involved in the conversation?

Hopefully, what they say when they don’t know you are listening isn’t much different than what they’d say to your face. Well, the truth is, people are talking about you, whether you are listening or not. So if you COULD listen, wouldn’t you want to?

Forget the things you’d rather not hear – “What did she do to her hair? Does he really think that joke is funny?” – when it comes to your business, hearing more can only be a good thing.

Enter social media listening – a fancy phrase for reading relevant things that people post on social sites – and voila, your long-distance hearing just improved! And by hearing better, you can make significant improvements to how your business runs, deciding what to market and sell, focusing your resources, and strengthening your relationships with customers, prospects, and your entire business community.

How do I get started?
You can use sophisticated monitoring applications like Salesforce Radian6, Cymphony/Visible, and Cisco Social Miner, but you can also get started with free tools like Google Alerts, Technorati, TweetDeck or SocialMention. Before you invest in a paid application, it’s a good idea to play around with putting keywords into one of the free tools to get a sense of the type and volume of results you’ll get back.

What do I listen for? 
It depends on what questions you are trying to answer with social listening.  In general, you’ll want to listen for mentions of your company name; keywords you use on your website; and products you market, develop or sell. But you can get even more specific and listen for things like:

  • Executive names
  • Special events or promotions you are running
  • Campaigns you are managing
  • Name of your competitors, or others in your industry or segment
  • Key customers
  • Analysts, members of the press, bloggers, and other influencers

What might I hear?
Again, it depends a bit on why you are listening and what terms you are listening for, but social listening can be effectively used to:

  • Find fans, advocates, and key influencers
  • See how well your marketing messages are penetrating
  • Discover customer support issues
  • Get product feedback
  • Find sales leads
  • Identify industry trends and emerging business needs
  • Recruit new employees
  • Manage crises and reduce risk
  • Get competitive insights

Now that you know how to get started and what to listen for, what exactly are you supposed to do with this valuable information? Tune back in tomorrow to find out.

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  1. Great feedback, Mollie! I’ll pass that suggestion on to the Cisco Blogs team.

  2. I would love to also share this post with my LinkedIn followers, adding a LinkedIn Social Share button would be beneficial! Great article.

  3. Jeane,
    Great advice here.