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3 ways first generation social listening tools are holding you back

Posted by Kristin Muhlner on June 17th, 2014 at 11:25 am

Social intelligence technology is proof that everything is different but nothing's really changed. Customers' word of mouth about their buying experience has always impacted business positively or negatively. But today, instead of emptying out a comment card box or having a complaint hot line, crowd-sourced review sites and social media communities have encouraged a pay-it-forward culture where everyday folks publicly share what they see, feel, expect from brands with the online world via their smartphones. And brands have started to take notice and listen.

Some forward-thinking companies have even led the way in seeing this real-time customer feedback evolution as a good thing; they thought ‘finally a way to know what our customers are thinking and saying about us.’ The IT departments at these brands purchased first-generation social monitoring tools that could catch the vast majority of mentions. But as online brand chatter got louder and data volume increased, marketers needed a new tool with more sophisticated features that they could use themselves.

Here are three ways your social listening practices are currently failing to help your brand to optimize its use of social feedback. If any of these sound familiar, it’s time for an upgrade.

Social listening is a manual process.

We all know the drill. Set up your dashboards. Enter your keywords. Choose bar graphs or charts. Then, the real work starts as the social media manager manually monitors the monstrous river of real time data that you’ve just released. This level of manual oversight in our age of automation is beyond unnecessary. As marketers, our time should be spent thinking strategically, executing on our campaigns or engaging with customers and clients, not sitting in front of a computer screen watching word clouds billow.

The next generation of social listening tools need to free today’s busy marketer from monitoring the screen. These tools must play a more active role; instead of merely presenting the data as it accumulates, they should also provide intelligence and recommended actions or next steps. Automatically flagging problems for marketers to review is a good first step, but the best new tools will empower marketers with automated trends, sending alerts as issues arise  and recommending solutions. Let’s invest in technology that will enhance the human decision-making process – allowing us as marketers to make more efficient, data-driven decisions.

Actions speak louder than words.

Customers want to feel that the relationship with the brand doesn’t end when they exit. Offering support and being responsive to customer feedback at each mile of the consumer journey is key to building a relationship. This is your company’s chance to tap into your customers’ thoughts to learn what makes them tick so you can steal market share. Even after spending all this money on technology and manpower, most brands are only doing the bare minimum for their customers – merely taking note of the chatter. Although that’s a good start, successful marketers know that we must go beyond this first step. We must hear, understand, react and engage; and the tools currently available on the market just don’t offer those levels of interactivity. When a customer interacts with a brand on social media, an automated tweet is mediocre, step up your customer care game and institutionalize their feedback with operational changes when appropriate.

Next generation social intelligence will help this process, providing marketers the tools to engage in real-time, enhancing service and business performance by combining process, people and technology.

Social data isn’t operationalized.

Second generation social tools need to bridge the gap between marketing and operations, as the latter depends on the former for business advice based on social data. Unlike customer surveys or email questionnaires, social media data provides us with direct, unsolicited feedback on our brand’s performance, which, if parsed effectively, could be immensely powerful for enacting change at the organizational level. Social data today is collected and filtered into categories, but it is not strategically analyzed.  Acquiring and filtering a massive amount of data is useless unless we have tools that can translate that data into actionable insights, and do so in near real-time. Armed with these automated organizational actions and recommendations, future marketers should be prepared to demonstrate their value across departments within their organization. Next generation tools will pinpoint operational areas that either need improvement or are functioning well, allowing you to strategically and effectively leverage that data within your company.

Upgrade from first-generation technology that is limited in capabilities and take control over these social listening shortcomings with second-generation social intelligence tools. Technology departments, support your marketing departments so they can start to engage with customers by automating customer relationship management.

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