Social media has given the consumer’s voice a megaphone – a loudspeaker. Businesses can monitor who they reach and the effectiveness of posts with social media following and interactions. Results are available immediately, if not just a few days. The term ‘viral’ has taken on a new context. But, as a whole, do we, as business owners and organizational leaders, listen? Do we hear what the customer wants? What the public is saying? And, do we react and adjust our strategies to address those needs?

Traditionally businesses use numerous methods to get feedback: focus groups, sales response, promotional draw, comment cards, conversations with customer service representatives, customer satisfaction surveys, on and on.  These techniques serve a great purpose to support your brand and design your strategy. The downfall: delayed response. To know what’s going on in the mind of your customers and members today – at this very moment – you must listen through social media.

Listen = Learn. Engage. Respond. Adapt.

Learn.

Knowing your audience is imperative. Gather intelligence by learning their demographics and their habits. What posts encourage their response? What services and products matter to them? Be your customer – the people you want to help.

Where can you engage your audience online? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+… The professional or entrepreneurial Gen Xer may be found on LinkedIn. Gen Y may be found on Pinterest or Twitter. Facebook spans many generations.  Regardless of platform, the most profound messages have no meaning if posted on the wrong platform.

Engage.

Redesign customer service: start the conversation before others voice their thoughts. Control your brand image with consistent messages. Online polls, video clips, and helpful “how-to” advice posts give your audience the chance to interact with your organization and contribute ideas and feedback.

As well, find your influencers. Having 200 followers who rarely interact on posts is less effective than have 50 followers who respond and share your links regularly.  Research has shown that on average, 13% of online adults generates 80% of the influence posts.

Respond.

Answer questions and anticipate conversations before questions are asked. Social media gives permission to express all thoughts and feelings into words.  Your sincerity and credibility will shine through when you acknowledge remarks and appreciate followers. Customers want to experience your brand in all interactions, whether in person or online.

Adapt.

Redirect your actions to address your customers’ needs. Are you mentioned on Twitter? In what context and tone? Do your products and services meet customer satisfaction? Did others

know about your event? Does your brand need updating? Making changes based on customer feedback is a compliment to your consumers and members. Hear their words and design your strategy to exceed their expectations.

Social media conversations keep us current.  Are you listening?

*Image courtesy of marketwire.com

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