With the onslaught of social media and social networks, customers have been empowered to express their sentiments anywhere, anytime. They communicate their opinions on blogs, product reviews, social and eCommerce sites and mainstream social channels such as tweet streams or Facebook status updates.
It is becoming more challenging for marketers to keep up with changing customer behavior and the demands of interpreting this social data. In the pre-social media era, unhappy customers would tell 10 people – but now they have a microphone and social ‘ear’ of millions of people around the world. Companies have begun using tools to listen to and monitor feedback and sentiment from customers and prospects across the social web. Beyond that, what can marketers glean from this sentiment insight they have access to?
Firstly, one can combine this wealth of information available throughout the social media sphere of influence with the organization’s internal system of record. Harvesting social customer insights with speed and accuracy and combining them with internal knowledge allows companies to capitalize more intelligently on immediate opportunities.
Brand and Campaign Management
Next, organizations can harness social media and focus on engagement; thereby growing their customer base and executing on their brand strategy. They can leverage this insight to understand their customers better and engage instantly, generating exciting, targeted content that strengthens their brand, increases the average size of the shopping cart and provides upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Last year around this time, Coca-Cola launched a promotional campaign, holiday-themed cans with polar bears on a white background to coincide with their partnership to financially support the World Wildlife Fund. Most of the Coke fans were not able to relate to this brand diversion since, we fans are all used to the red or the silver can of Coke. Coke fans used the company’s official blog, Facebook and twitter handle to register dissatisfaction. Some Coke fans commented on the company’s official blog to complain about the company wading into the issue of climate change. Coca-Cola reacted quickly and responded to the color change complaints on twitter and Facebook and reassured their fans. In the absence of social media, it would have taken much longer for Coke to realize what went wrong. They would have faced losses due to a decrease in sales and would have squandered the holiday season opportunity.
Product Innovation and New Product Launch
Social data also allows for intelligence around new product enhancements, customer needs, likes and dislikes.
When Apple launched iPhone 5 in September 2012, social media channels lit up and the social web was flooded with consumer reviews. The new Lightning connector was the most frequently talked about feature of iPhone 5. Consumers expressed their disappointment due to incompatibilities with accessories such as docking stations, audio and video systems, which were suddenly obsolete. Many questioned Apple via social channels – to convey their displeasure about the connector, and about irregularities with the map application. Social data and customer feedback would have to be captured by Apple to provide direct customer feedback and so that enhancement requests are channeled to their product teams to improve the product.
Let’s wait and see how Apple reacts to all of this.
Fulfillment and Pricing
Lastly, retailers can use social media insights to understand the demand and pricing for products. With real-time in-store and near-store customer tweets, retailers are made aware of whether there is a product shortage or if there’s excessive demand for a product. They may increase the price if demand is unusually high. They may investigate the reason behind the product shortage, whether products were not delivered on time or whether the dealer or outlet is unable to manage the demand.
Social media and social sentiment has opened a whole new world of understandings and insights which organizations can use for strategic benefit. Organizations can more clearly identify business influencers, know better what customers need, and through social sentiment – they can anticipate and respond – delivering exceptional customer experiences and inspiring loyalty.