The strongest brands on earth have a two-sided relationship with their fans. Like any real life relationship, there’s give and take. Speaking and listening.
If you’re only focused on advertising, posting, tweeting and shouting, you’re going to miss what people say—and think—about your brand.
It will be difficult to get a real conversation going and your relationship will be short lived.
“It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.” —Yogi Berra
Make sure you're listening everywhere
Any time your brand is tagged in social media
News stories in traditional or online outlets
Customer service call logs
Shopper observation and secret shopping
Customer satisfaction surveys (read a how-to here)
Here are DOs and DON’Ts to make sure you’re listening to what your customers and prospects have to say:
Don’t hide behind paper or emails:
If someone has complained, a personal apology might be needed. If it’s serious, don’t take the chicken’s way out, send flowers or a coupon. Call and say you’re sorry.
A form letter—by paper or by email—is worse than the kiss of death. The customer is a person. A personalized response makes a difference.
Don’t ignore the negative input:
Trying to hide it is like sticking used gum under the bleacher seats. It's bad form, and you’ll always know it’s there. It will gross out everyone who accidentally touches it.
Don’t beat up your employees:
Everyone can make a mistake. Use customer complaints as teachable moments that help you be better, faster and smarter.
Regularly monitor all these social media platforms and maximize them:
- Claim and populate the platforms that invite your content with interesting, fun and engaging information
- Actively invite ratings by reaching out to customers and asking their input
- Respond to every rating—both positive and negative—thank, thank and thank some more.
- Apologize when it’s warranted. Then thank again.
Watch for trends so you know what activities and products you should increase or decrease:
- What are people asking for?
- What are people complaining about?
- What are people thrilled with?
- What are people liking and sharing?
- Do these trends match up with what’s happening in your sales, talent recruitment or vendor inquiries? If not, ask why.
- Use this feedback for innovating, expanding or changing product offerings.
Use a mix of social and proactive listening tools. This will give you a better picture of all the ways people inside and outside your organization are experiencing your brand.
We know that back-and-forth interchange is what makes a great conversation and lets us get to know each other. Those same conversations mean everything for your brand.
Yogi Berra is famous for some insightful malapropisms. What he didn’t realize is that he had a lot of wisdom for branders, if we'll take the time to listen.