This means you. Yes, especially you. And most definitely you. The social web isn’t just about talking: posting comments, status lines, reviews, and feedback. It’s also the best damn way to listen in on conversations never before heard.
It’s a PR dream, if you can just shut up for one minute and listen to what’s going on around you.
Using the social web for both PR and Customer Service might just be the best bang for your buck. We know it’s a soft sell for sales, so if you are more used to hard hitting approaches, then take the time to establishing your Listening Strategy. Designate your Chief Listening Officer, and take note of what is being said all around you.
Where to start
1. Conduct several online searches to gather information about your brand. Google it, Twitter it, hit up all the usual suspects and open every door to see if there is any chatter worth following. But don’t overlook the things you don’t know: just because you can’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Have you checked Foursquare? Digg?…it’s time to get well-versed on all of these sites and app’s if you really want to be able to monitor your brand thoroughly.
2. Determine some key words, in addition to your company name, that might help you track conversations better. If you are Coca Cola, you’ll want to track “coke” and “pop” as well as “soda”. If you are the Canucks organization perhaps you’ll want to track “hockey” and “NHL” as well.
3. Set up automatic monitoring tools. Here are some examples:
- HootSuite (my favourite)
- Google Alerts
4. Find the online influencers. I can’t stress this enough. These are people, individuals, who are blogging about you and your industry, you customers, your employees, your suppliers, and your competitors. Find them using specific blog search engines such as Technorati.
5. Evaluate the conversation. It’s up to you to determine what kind of action needs to be taken, if any (usually some form of action should be taken – silence really can be deadly).
- Option 1: conversations are mostly positive and include favourable mentions.
- Option 2: negative comments are circulating and bad feels have been expressed towards brand
In either situation, action should be taken. In the first case, you need to seize this opportunity to connect with online influencers who are promoting your brand and not receiving a nickel of acknowledgement from you. Invite them in to your inner circle; ask their opinions; seek their input and feedback.
And in the second situation, it’s time to step it up and address the bad PR using the exact same channels that have generated it.
Help me come up with some great examples about listening & taking action. Here are a couple recent examples circulating around the Internet at the time of this posting:
- The very recent Steven Slater incident caused Jet Blue to deal with urgent communications about it’s employee. In lieu of issuing a press release (although perhaps it did that as well, I honestly don’t know), the company posted a single blog entry on it’s corporate site. Short, sweet, and to the point. Read about it in this Fast Company article.
- Delta airlines used Twitter to listen and solve a customer service problem on the spot!