Social media monitoring is about listening to your customers, prospects and others, knowing where and what they are saying about your brand, products and services through blogs, forums, social networks, websites, review sites, videos and online media. (Ryan and Jones, 2012).
This implies a change of mind among marketers, as they have not control anymore over their audience. But instead of being afraid, the best choice is participate actively where is our audience. The worst decision: no answer, silence can be fatal. To participate successfully in online conversations with our audience is essential first to learn to listen to them carefully and then respond them in a proactive and positive way (Ryan and Jones, 2012).
When a company has to create its own social network it is important to monitor and find out where its customers are participating and interacting, and make decisions according to that information (Meerman, 2010). Also, Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick (2012, p. 536) suggest that is critical a marketplace analysis, review the commercial benefits of social media and define goals. It is not necessary to create an account in every social network, you have to choose the best one for your business, considering your target audience. You can integrate social media into your own website and other marketing activity.
Another important aspect to highlight is that we do not have to wait until a negative situation happens, to just start interacting with our customers in the social networks that they are using. If you participate frequently in the same social media of your customers, this will help you in crisis situations. It is not only about posting products about your brand, you should post relevant content and topics, earning the trust of your customers that belong to the same community. (Meerman, 2010). Likewise, it is important the interaction with influential individuals who are the most active in social media and have the respect of users (Ryan and Jones, 2012).
“There’s never been so good an opportunity to monitor what’s being said about you and your products than the one we have now. The Internet is like a massive focus group with uninhibited customers offering up their thoughts for free!” (Meerman, 2010, p.47).
Participating and monitoring the social media has many advantages, Ryan and Jones (2012) suggest the following:
- Get insights from your customers about your company, brand, products and topics of interest.
- Improve your online reputation building a strong community.
Likewise, Chaffey & Ellis-Chadwick (2012) include:
- Gain new customers.
- Recommendations, reviews and rating can increase conversion rate.
- Increase positive comments and manage the negatives about the brand.
- Customer engagement and retention tool, improving the customer experience.
“Online markets will talk about companies whether companies like it or not. People will say whatever they like, without caring whether they’re overheard or quoted –in fact, having one’s views passed along is usually the whole point” (Levine et al., 2000, p.71).
We will find positive and negative comments about our brand in social media, it is important to reinforce the positive and handle properly the negative. In order to face these negative comments, you have to react and respond quickly and honestly although not solve the problem, your participation involves giving a human face to your brand and that you are interested in solving any problems. Also, you can explain and apologize for the situation and it is vital to do this in the same social media where the problem happened (Meerman, 2010).
“If you take the time to invest in relationships and being a valued member of a community, it can work in your favor when you need it” (Meerman, 2010, p.182).
Ryan and Jones (2012, p. 192) suggest some tips about how to deal with negative comments:
- Analyse what has been said.
- Engage positively in the conversation.
- Politely point out any misunderstandings.
- Stay calm, professional and respectful.
- Post additional and supporting information on your website.
- Be responsive and informative.
- If it is malicious, you should contact the website owner and ask them to remove the offending material.
On the famous website TripAdvisor people can find reviews, forums, advice, opinions and photos about hotels, resorts, flights, vacation rentals, travel packages restaurants and attractions all made by travellers and they are a source of credibility among users. For example, my husband and I before booking a hotel either in UK or another country, we always read the reviews of other guests to find out if their experience was good or bad. Sometimes after reading these opinions, we had to change hotels. Therefore, for example if you are the owner of a hotel you have to take care of the reputation of your hotel on TripAdvisor, interact with the community and respond to positive and negative comments. The hotels that have more bookings are those with more positive reviews.
Example of easyHotel London Victoria responding to bad reviews on TripAdvisor site.
In this case, the hotel Britannia Manchester Hotel do not answer to bad reviews on TripAdvisor site.
Regarding the topic of social media listening tools, I recommend to read this interesting post by Dave Chaffey: Social media listening tool comparison
I would like to recommend these books and sites that I read and visit to discover more about social media:
Brand24 (2013) Social Media Monitoring. [online video]. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_e63moYZYG8 [Accessed 23rd November, 2014]
Chaffey, D. and Ellis-Chadwick, F. (2012). Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Levine, R et al. (2000) The Cluetrain Manifesto: The end of business as usual.
Meerman, D. (2010). The new rules of marketing & PR: how to use social media, blogs, news releases, online video, and viral marketing to reach buyers directly. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.
Ryan, D. and Jones, C. (2012) Understanding Digital Marketing. London, UK: Kogan Page Publishers.
How do you think you can improve the monitoring of mentions of your company or brand in social media? How should we react to negative comments?