Active listening across social media channels and responding directly to questions and comments across these channels is a lot different than in-depth trend analysis which can influence business strategy. But as we work with our clients, we are noticing that there is a push towards engagement over analysis. And it makes sense due to the immediacy necessary for responding to customer queries, but it may also indicate a dangerous sign from a governance and leadership perspective.
For the last two or three years, many of the social media reports hitting the desks of the C-level have been cluttered with generic volume charts and a hodgepodge of social media mentions from Twitter and Facebook. In general, these reports (either developed in-house or by a third-party) do not address business KPIs nor do they help executives understand the parts of their business that social is truly affecting. With few business metrics to analyze, many executives are forced to take away the operational numbers that they are given: increase in Facebook fans, total posts, total interactions. But what does a higher volume of fans, posts or interactions really mean, if deep statistical analysis is not performed on the conversations?
Listening and reacting to social media posts is extremely important. There is no question of that. But organizations need to begin going through the exercise of defining what they want to see from social media conversations and interactions that are going to drive actions, sales and innovation. From a trending perspective, you might want to find out how things have changed over time and how that affects your business. What are people talking about in Q3? Is it different than Q1? Do we want to influence the conversation to change it, or are there things that we can learn to make marketing or customer service better?
A tactical approach is necessary to engage with your customers and let them know you are listening. However, a business focused approach to listening analysis can deliver insights that can be actionable across the long term. It’s not something that needs to be done daily or even monthly. But once every two or three months, if done right, an aggregate analysis of social media conversations can provide a view of your customers that is extremely hard to see from the trenches.