Listen Up!

In today’s society, the traditional marketing funnels and channels have gone out the window. Throughout the past decade, the rise of social media has changed the way that consumers gain and share information about brands, products, and experiences. McKinsey’s new interpretation of the traditional marketing funnel illustrates a cyclical and more current consumer purchase decision journey.

Social media has an impact on all six of those decision stages, however it is the Advocate stage that should be monitored closely. Consumers can become both positive and negative advocates of your brand, and through social media, that message can spread like wildfire. One person’s opinion can be seen by their numerous friends or followers, which can then be shared among even more people, creating a ripple effect across the digital universe. Savvy consumers increasingly rely on social media to gain information about a subject because it is more truthful and unfiltered than going to a brand’s website where the message can be skewed and altered to benefit the brand. Therefore, when someone posts about your brand on a social media website it can have profound effects on all stages of the customer decision journey. One bad review can take your brand out of a consumer’s consideration set, and can prevent a sale from being made.

As Brian Solis explains, this is why it is so important to listen to your consumers and to have a strategy for responding to them.

He notes that younger consumers are posting their initial gut reactions to Twitter or Facebook before even searching for solutions for their problems. This is problematic and he uses this point to support his call for brands to monitor online conversations about their brand and create a “triage” protocol.

If a dissatisfied consumer posts a negative comment about your brand on social media, a good monitoring system will be able to put the fire out before it gets out of hand and spreads. A successful “triage” system will be able to possibly get the dissatisfied individual to reconsider their opinions of the brand and try purchasing again, and prevent any further damage to the brand. More importantly, even if the problem cannot be entirely fixed, at least the consumer knows that the brand is listening and cares about them. A good example of a Social Media triage system was created by the Altimeter Group and can be found here.

Although very important, implementing a monitoring system isn’t all about PR. Monitoring can be used to gain further insights about consumers and the way they interact with your brand, identify trends, and ensure that the intended marketing messages are effective at reaching their goals.

Successful brands will need to implement some sort of social media monitoring system to remain competitive and to prevent any detrimental PR effects. After all, no one wants to be United Airlines…who breaks guitars.

– AK

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