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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Build Better Business with These Social Listening Tips

    Posted by Angela Suico

    Impress Your Online Customers with Your Social Listening Skills

    Imagine you work in a store, and a customer walks up to you with a question or a complaint. What would you do? You most likely wouldn’t walk away from them or say nothing in response. Yet if you’re not making time for social listening, you’re essentially committing this customer service sin. On the other hand, if you do take the time to respond to customers’ remarks, it can show how dedicated you are to serving them and making their experience with you that much better. To help you hone your social listening skills, we’ve curated insights on brands that have good social media listening skills, tips on recreating their success, and hacks for good social listening.

    Some Sharp Social Listeners

    Over on Search Engine Watch, Victoria Edwards presents two great examples of social listening. This is social media at its finest—people talked, and these companies not only listened, they made sure to respond, too.

    Taylor Guitars

    When musician Dave Carroll boarded a United Airlines flight, some attendants recklessly handled his Taylor Guitar and broke it. He posted a country-style song about the incident on YouTube. Taylor Guitars issued their own video in response, explaining that the TSA actually allows flyers to bring their guitars on the plane and informing viewers that Taylor Guitars would repair any broken guitar, regardless of its brand.

    Maker’s Mark

    This popular distillery reversed its decision to decrease the alcohol content in its bourbon. Many Twitter users complained about the change. So not only did Maker’s Mark take to social media to announce that it was going back to the old recipe, it also paid for Google advertising announcing the about-face. “You Spoke,” said the title, while the meta description read, “We listened. Maker’s Mark Will Remain 90 Proof.”

    Social Listening Hacks

    Want to copy Taylor Guitars’ and Maker’s Mark success? Most likely, the places you’ll need to focus on most are Facebook and Twitter. You’re probably already well aware that you need to check these accounts on a regular basis. You may not know some of these advanced Twitter tips for listening, however. With the following techniques, you won’t have to scroll through your entire @ Connect page for Tweets you might have missed.

    Drop the @ Symbol for Searching

    Some customers may not bother finding out what your Twitter handle is before they Tweet about you. So, search for your company name in Twitter by typing the name without the handle, and see what comes up. 

    Think Hashtags

    Some people may not mention your Twitter handle, but they may incorporate part of your brand in a hashtag. If you have a mascot or motto, or if your company name is often abbreviated, conduct a hashtag search using those terms. Lauren Dugan, an AllTwitter contributor, suggests taking 15 minutes to brainstorm any possible hashtags that could mention your business.

    Schedule Your Listening

    You can save your search results for future reference. Once you’ve done this, schedule a time each day to refer back to them. This will let you keep up with new Tweets, and you won’t have to manually enter those search terms each time you want to listen on social media.

    Social Listening Etiquette

    Once you understand how to practice social listening, of course you’ll need to understand the etiquette behind it. Another AllTwitter.com writer, Allison Staid, has some great tips on this topic—here are the best of her insights.

    Understand the Conversation

    If your company is mentioned in a conversation on Twitter, be sure to understand the context. What’s being said about your business, and to whom? Getting the facts first will allow you to respond in a way that’s helpful and well informed.

    Speak Carefully

    You want to respond specifically when the customer has a complaint or question. While social listening is valuable for both social media users and companies, users have mixed feelings about being directly addressed by brands. Some 64% of social media users only want to hear brands speak when they’re spoken to. Given that statistic, you need to be careful about when you speak.

    Give It Time

    Yes, it’s sometimes frustrating to only be able to say what you want to say in 140 characters. But to some people, it’s also frustrating to have to read multiple Tweets covering a paragraph’s worth of ideas. You may come across as aggressive if you Tweet several times in a row to the customer, so think carefully about what you want to say, Tweet it, and wait for the customer to respond. 

    Realize When It’s Not Worth the Effort

    As we are well aware, trolls don’t just exist in fairy tales. If the person seems to be overly argumentative or inflammatory, the conversation isn’t worth having. Don’t let your social listening devolve into social arguing.

    Acknowledge What’s Been Said

    Just like you wouldn’t jump into a conversation about Facebook with an anecdote about your Grandpa’s old dog, you don’t want to make the customer feel like you’re not listening to what they’re saying. Nothing’s worse than complaining about a company, then receiving a flippant response, or worse, one that says, “Thanks for using our services!”  

    With the right social listening techniques, you can blow your customers away with your dedication and customer service skills. Treat the situation like a real-life interaction, and you’ll soon find people raving about your brand. Of course, if they do so on social media, be sure to acknowledge them, and you’ll score extra points in their eyes. 

    Image credit: freedigitalphotos.net/David Castillo Dominici

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