Listening to the Groundswell

After figuring out the different streams of social media that your target market is using, the next step is to listen to what your market is saying or how they are reacting to posts on those sites. This can be done by questionnaires or observing blog posts and noting what patients are saying negatively about a company, like Ellen Sonnet, the marketing director of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, did when she wanted to understand how cancer patients choose which treatment facility they go to. By listening, she has been able to have more power within the company to make decisions and has gotten recognition within the marketing world. Another example is how the marketers for the Mini Cooper were able to promote consumer engagement by sending out secret messages to be decoded that lead to rallies for the owners of the cars. To be able to successfully listen to the groundswell, there are four things to keep in mind to succeed at listening (using the previous company, Brewster’s Brewing Company as an example):

1. Check the social technograpics profile for your customers: This is important because you need to know where to listen to your customers at. Are they mostly creators? Or are they mostly collectors? For the case of Brewster’s, they are mostly spectators and joiners, but a few are also creators and many are critics. That means brand monitoring is important because these people are going to react to things happening by commenting on blogs etc. more than anything else.

2. Start small, think big: This refers to the fact that monitoring all your brands at once can be very expensive, and it is better to start by monitoring just one branch of the brand and than expand into their other brands. Brewster’s recently shut down one of their restaurants to open up another one under a different name. After only a few months this restaurant was shut down and after some searching I found reviews on the urban spoon (a site where people can post reviews about restaurants), and the majority of them were negative. Fortunately, the Marketing team responded to every comment and they listened to the groundswell, shut down the restaurant, and are in the process of reopening under the same name as before. Below is a snap shot of a customers review, and how the management team handled it.

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Although the response was small, the effort was large. The company changed its whole policy to accommodate and hopefully win back the customer by trying to make their next visit more enjoyable. 

3. Make sure your listening vendor has an experienced team to handle situations: This means that making sure not only the CEOs of the company are able to handle the situations, but also the employees that may be having to handle the customers need to be properly trained in these areas as well. In a restaurant when a customer is unhappy, it is usually the manager on duty at the time that is responsible for dealing with the unhappy customers, not the CEOs. By having fully trained managers, such things are bad Internet reviews can be easily avoided.

4.Choose a senior level employee to interpret the information and integrate it with other sources: This point reflects the need to actually do something useful with the information that is collected. For Brewster’s, they took the bad reviews from the customers and changed their policies, such as eating all the fries before getting new fish, and eventually just closed the restaurant and reopened as it was before. This is going to help them continue to have the positive support from their existing customers.

It is extremely important to be able to listen to what your customers are saying on the groundswell. It helps to prevent bad reviews, understand why your customers are choosing the products that they are, and helps to prevent brands being introduced that could ruin a reputation. 

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