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If you listen carefully to the conversations going on in the market you can learn a great deal about what people think of your company, as well as its products and services. A company that is open-minded and ready to learn will be able to more quickly correct mismatches between its behavior and the preferences of the market, and adapt to coming changes in buyer priorities and behavior, innovating across almost every aspect of its business.
Who should monitor social media? Everyone for whom such conversations could have a serious impact. That group is likely to include Marketing, Sales (to support social selling activities for social media-savvy salespeople), R&D, and Customer Support (Twitter can often be the first step in the case escalation path) functions. Usually, encouraging and providing automated access to these conversations is a task for Marketing. As an example, there may be one Twitter account owned by Marketing, another by Support, and yet another by Sales, with the result that prospects and customers are likely to receive faster and more relevant responses depending on the context.
If your industry is awash with buyer conversations, and your marketing department small, then prioritizing who you listen to is a must. Where there may be 20,000 people involved in more or less relevant conversations, a much smaller number of key influencers—perhaps no more than 100—will likely have a disproportionate influence on prospects and clients. Keeping tabs on that small group of influencers would be a very effective substitute for monitoring everyone. Your goal should be to identify the most-followed commentators and build relationships with that group.
While you’re thinking about your listening options, it’s worth realizing that, for many product categories, customers expect you are listening – and have high expectations of how rapidly you will respond, too, especially to complaints. In fact, according to research published back in 2013 by Lithium Technologies, more than 70 percent of users expect to hear back from the brand they’re interacting with on Twitter, and 53 percent want a response within the hour. We’d go so far as to guess that, given the speedy preferences of millennials, the desired response times are likely to decrease far more in 2017.
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