I, and every social media/community manager (we still haven’t settled on what we’re calling ourselves) out there, can testify that social media can be incredibly confusing. Many people who are unfamiliar with how social media works simply assume that they can write a post, tweet or upload a picture and that’s it…they’ve contributed to the social landscape and the customers will come a-running. Social media is a lot more complicated than merely posting and over the last half decade a science has risen up around the analysis and interpretation of social media trends.
Whilst customer analysis and trends have been apart of business for many years today we can go so much further. Brands are able to take a glimpse into what customers are thinking without employing subjective focus groups or relying simply on customer feedback cards. With more than a billion Facebook users, hundreds of millions of Twitter users and an endless stream of YouTube commenters an eager brand can easily take the pulse of their desired market. It is possible to identify and follow social influencers (i.e. people with 200,000+ followers in their social network), discover what your customers are talking about in relation to your brand and see whether or not you can stave off an unhappy customer and transform them into a cheerleader for you. Potential customers (and potential complainers) are voluntarily giving their opinions and commentary on your brand, your competitors brands and what they need. Users screaming their thoughts at the world hoping that someone will listen to them. It’s up to the brands to hear their words and talk to them about it.
Social media is a lot more complicated than merely posting…a science has risen up around the analysis and interpretation of social media trends.
But how do you do this? How do you search through all the millions and millions of Tweets and Facebook comments posted every single day. Well luckily it’s easier than you would think. Some options are free but most of them will cost money. For many brands this should be considered an extremely worthwhile investment. Social media has presented brands with an incredible opportunity to listen to what people think of their brand. You can also stop a potential backlash from customers by being attuned to what they think. This sort of information can save brands a significant amount of money in lost sales and embarrassment (something which is difficult to put a price on) and ensure that your customers stay on your side.
These services are known as CRM or Customer Relationship Management software. They help you track your customers, trends and other key indicators that show where you think your customers are heading. Radian 6, the highly rated CRM software, produced this YouTube video for their customers showing how powerful their product can be.
Whilst this is a fairly expensive option (basic packages start at $5,000 per month) it is also one of the best. As social media is itself a fairly new concept it goes without saying that we will see an increase in CRM related technologies that can help brands maximise their social media potential.
Whilst it is truly impossible to monitor all social media (due to privacy restrictions) CRM software and techniques do give brands a broad understanding of how their product is faring. They allow companies to examine benchmarks and examine what customers think of their competition. This can give social media savvy brands an incredible edge in the business world as it can help influence where they think that the customer will go next. Slowly but surely CRM will become a necessity for all brands. Will you be ahead of the game?