Let Customers Know You Care by Letting Them Know You Hear

Social media has opened new communication channels between marketers and customers. Unfortunately, too many times the traditional media mindset of “talk, talk, talk” is being applied to social media, which negates the power of social media tools to engage consumers in conversation. Mastering social media resembles the challenges marketers faced a decade ago building websites that delivered value to their target markets.

A big problem, according to eMarketer founder Geoff Ramsey, is that most marketers are uncertain how to integrate social media into their existing digital media mix of display and search advertising. In Ramsey’s view, the value of social media resides in the ability to listen to what customers and others are saying about your brand. So, a different approach to social media should be taken than the messaging used in digital advertising that is geared toward persuasion and action.

A great example of a listening opportunity using social media that has been missed (at least so far) is on the Facebook page of Baja Fresh, a quick service restaurant chain. A post by the company yesterday (July 19) is a teaser for a new Facebook coupon for Baja Fresh fans. As of this morning, 20 comments were made about the post, many of which express frustrations with Baja Fresh locations in their local area not accepting the coupons. The silence from Baja Fresh is rather noticeable; no one from the company has responded to the concerns about not being able to use coupons.

The ability to listen to customers’ praises, questions, complaints, and ideas (and respond to them) makes social media a powerful communication medium. Giving customers a voice is great, but are you prepared, as Jim Collins says, to “confront the brutal facts?” Creating social media content without evidence of listening is a return to one-way communication. I am unsure what is worse: A company’s Facebook page that is updated with new content once every few weeks, or a rather active presence with little emphasis on listening and responding to customers. The decision to use social media implies you want to hear from people who care about your brand. Let them be heard… and let them know that you hear them!

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