Social Media’s (invisible) Gift To Business

SomedMarketGiftThe ability to connect with the marketplace is social media’s gift to business. You might be saying that’s nothing new; surveys and focus groups have been around for ages. True. And I’m not advocating for their disappearance. But the information I’m talking about doesn’t require mailing lists, invitations, or rely on carefully crafted questions to increase response rates. It also doesn’t require pesky phone calls at dinnertime from telemarketers.

According to Constant Contact, a typical response rate for surveys is 10% to 20%. Survey Gizmo cites 10% to 15% as average, but reminds us that actual response rates will vary widely. Of course, adding the chance to win an exciting prize will increase participation but now you have additional costs to figure in when calculating the feedback program’s return on investment.

Some of the information you’re looking for — and some that you need but don’t know about yet — is waiting for you online.

Headliner – A Case In Point

Last week I wrote about a company that offers to increase readership by promoting blog posts. There was some troubling language in the the Terms of Service that required the blogger to assign the copyright to Headliner. A few of us blogged about it and shared our concerns on Twitter. To Headliner’s great credit they were listening. Really listening. They took that information and actually made changes to the ToS.

Here’s what’s really important. The information Headliner gleaned from social networking sites would likely never have shown up in a survey. And Headliner would never have known about our concerns if they had not been employing social listening. If you want to know what your market is interested in, or perhaps learn what they’re saying about your brand, take a read through Social Listening Is Hard To Do. Here’s an excerpt:

For many companies, the sum total of their social media engagement is an endless stream of cute quotes, job listings, or article links — but no listening. At best, there’s someone on alert for direct messages, but no one’s watching the stream for conversation invitations. For these companies, adding social listening will be an entirely new behaviour.

What Makes It An Invisible Gift

It’s invisible because conversations about a brand can take place without the company ever knowing they’re being talked about. Social listening is a gift that businesses are just beginning to appreciate and understand — and some, like Headliner, are using what they hear to make business decisions.

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Click here to tweet this message –>: What social listening could mean for your business


14 Replies to “Social Media’s (invisible) Gift To Business”

  1. Bravo! Well done article and great points – as a Social Media Strategist, I am always telling my clients to stop broadcasting and start LISTENING. The info is truly invaluable! From Fab & Fearless 🙂


  2. Love this post Susan, I think ‘listening’ at any level is a dying art. We are all so intent on getting our message out, but no one cares about our ‘message’ or what we are trying to say. They care about what we can ‘fix’ for them. Behind every organisation, are human beings and we forget this. It doesn’t matter the industry, it matters how we can help people feel great about what they do. Great post. Keep them coming!


    1. Hi Julie,

      You just gave me a fresh perspective on why so many companies don’t practice social listening. I love it when I learn something new from comments. Thanks so much for taking the time to share — and for stopping by.


  3. Susan – this is so true! Social Media really does offer a lot of information about our customers.Taking the time to “watch” can really be invaluable to a company — especially when they respond in a positive way to what they see.


  4. Susan, I agree it is very tough to implement and well worth it for most organizations. Do you think a baby step would be to outsource things like social listening in terms of social analytics and sentiment analysis. I know it is scary for a company to do this but, I think it could be beneficial for companies to have these things done right at first to see the value. Then implement in house to regain control of social media. Thoughts???


    1. Hi Justin,
      I think the answer to that question will vary by company. Their overall attitude toward outsourcing will weigh heavily, also if there’s a dept (like marketing) that sees outsourcing as potentially dangerous (leading to the dept being made redundant) there could be resistance. I’ve learned to never underestimate the impact of internal power structures.


  5. Great post. I think it is incredible what you can find through social listening. Social listening is invaluable in my opinion as people will post over the public internet not expecting to get a response from the company they either want to vent or share bad or good experiences with their friends. So companies can draw insights and know that what they are reading is the truth of how people view their product/brand/company. When a company responds quickly, It can completely change consumers’ perception. Also I love the excerpt, because it displays the hardest part for a business to become socially active and that is committing to altering behavior from “we need social media because everybody else has it” to “Let’s leverage social media as a competitive advantage; lets draw insights, talk to our consumers, create brand advocates, solve problems, answer questions in real-time. Great job!


    1. Hi Justin, thanks so much for leaving your comment here. Looks like you and I agree this behavioural shift, although tough to manage throughout an organization, carries huge benefits. Hope to see you back on the site again! Your comments are always welcome.


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