~First of a two part series on social media monitoring.~

Social Media Monitoring as a Call to Action

Remember the Verizon commercials where the test employee roamed around asking, “Can you hear me now?” And the more times he asked the question, the more we hoped someone, anyone, was listening.

Businesses are listening. According to a study conducted by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, on the adoption and use of social media in the 500 fastest growing U.S. companies, 68% of companies are monitoring brand mentions and levels of social media engagement.

When companies listen to the conversations about their brand via social media monitoring tools they can discover invaluable information including:

  • feedback and comments on your product,
  • comments on competitor’s products,
  • new uses for existing products,
  • opportunities for product offerings,
  • new industry opportunities,
  • potential new product features
  • product pain points,
  • how customers are using your product,
  • points of difference about your product

With more and more free and paid social media monitoring and engagement tools coming onto the scene every day, we may wonder what businesses are doing with all the data they get from listening and whether they’re hearing their customers loud and clear.

As Forrester’s Zach Hofer-Shall asks, “Why do companies ‘listen’ to social media?” He says they listen to learn and improve various aspects of their business: “Marketers use social listening to improve their campaigns and build customer relationships; customer support teams listen so they can fix problems; PR teams listen to put out fires before they spread; researchers listen to drive innovation.”

Zach Hofer-Shall says that when it gets right down to it, listening isn’t really a social media strategy, it’s a data collection component of a business strategy. And that ultimately, companies are listening as a “means to drive action.”

But he suggests that most companies are still stuck on the mantra, “start by listening” and still busily counting the number of Facebook fans or tracking brand mentions. They’re listening, not acting.

He goes on to say, “It’s 2012, and we’re still passively–without purpose–collecting social media.”

We checked-in with Zach to ask him his thoughts about the directions companies will need to take in order to put social intelligence into action.

Will social intelligence require a broad cultural change within the organization? Can it happen department by department? Where should companies begin?

The maturity spectrum between basic social media monitoring and deep, coordinated social intelligence is immense and the evolution between the two concepts takes time. Although companies can grow through that evolution in various ways – department by department or a cultural change from the top down – is less important than how it ends up.

An organization matures based on its own structure. So while some may never have the leadership to drive a top-down change and others will never have enough communication to move silo by silo, successful social intelligence needs coordination to operate at an enterprise level. Without getting a company’s pieces working together, they’ll have great difficulty putting social data into action – beyond the small successes of individual teams.”

Thank you Zach!

Final Thoughts: Make listening a call to action. Let your customers know that you’ve heard them and take the steps you need take internally to make social data work for you.  In our next post, we’ll explore the requirements needed to successfully complete the social intelligence maturity level.  We’ll hear from a few companies about how they’ve make good use of social data.

What are some examples of how you’ve used listening for social intelligence–to drive action and make changes in your business strategies?  What will it take (e.g. time, resources, knowledge) for your company to move from passive listening to taking action? Share your comments in the space below.

photo credit: caterpiya via photo pin cc

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