This is a term that I have come across today that seems to be appearing more and more often and is being used in conjuction with Online Reputation Management. I came across it today when I was intrigued why PR Week had removed an article that had an interview with Robin Grant from We Are Social who was saying that it was “good news” for his company that there had been the crisis with Eurostar, who is one of their clients.
A bit of a crazy thing to say but I can see what he meant by it, that the crisis brought to the forefront that social media really plays a huge role in a company’s interaction with customers and has to be part of the whole marketing plan. I’m sure though that all the stranded Eurostar passengers certainly didn’t think it was good news.
So what is social media listening? Well really it’s keeping an eye (or ear!) on social media sites, blogs and news to see what is being said about you. It is different to having a social media presence which is very much about distributing information about the company, how great it is, any new products or services and shouting it from the rooftops. It is only once you have listened properly that you can then respond to your customers and provide all the information that they are looking for or answer their questions.
Online stores that have a good web and social media presence do this really well such as Firebox, where the marketing team actively monitor their Twitter account and see what people are saying about Firebox and reply and Retweet comments. For companies such as Eurostar it should be a vital way to update customers on the latest service reports during the crisis and answer any specific questions that are being asked in a really short time frame.
To carry out Social Media listening you need to arm yourself with some tools and get yourself set up. The simplest way to start social media listening is to set up something like Google Reader and add in RSS feeds or search urls from Twitter search, so that you can pull all the mentions into one place. You might want to track a company name or a search term, or both, to get the best picture of what is being said. There are much more sophisticated listening tools out there that can be used and there is a great list on Dave Chaffey’s blog that is up to date. So when you are hearing lots of buzz about social media get your social media listening set up and running at the same time, but ensure that you have the capability to respond to what is being said effectively or else it is wasted.