Even though marketers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising a company’s brand, it is up to the consumers to define it. In the book, Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Technologies, it states that “Your brand is what your customers say it is!” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). In a previous post, I stated that the authors defined Groundswell as “a spontaneous movement of people using online tools to connect, take charge of their own experience, and get what they need from each other” (Li & Bernoff, 2011). A brand doesn’t belong to the company but to their customers who are active online.
To truly understand what people are saying about your company, you must take initiative and listen. Groundswell is a great way for companies to observe and see what their audience is saying about them. You’ll gain new insights but, unfortunately, you won’t be able to observe everyone. Companies will be able to observe the ones that are willing to talk but that doesn’t mean that the people heard from are a full representation of their audience (Li & Benroff, 2011). This type of information gathering is quite time-consuming but Groundswell suggests two listening strategies that can help.
The internet is a vast abyss of knowledge, data and information that users can access. Listening is an essential part of interpreting all this information and knowing what and how to utilise it. Companies can “listen” by Googling their product with words like sucks or awesome and reviewing what consumers have to say. Groundswell suggests that to gain real insight, it’s better to hire professional programs or vendors that possess the tools needed for a larger scale.
- Set up a private community. Basically, it is a giant ongoing focus group engaged in a natural interaction where companies can listen in (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Websites like Fuel Cycle (previously known as Passenger), c_space (communispace) and MetricsLab (MarketTools) provide engagement for your company and then gather the data. These are just a few private communities in a growing industry. When choosing a vendor, make sure you choose one that will grow with your company and the experience to back up their research.
An example of an online community for travel enthusiasts would be Travellerspoint. This website promotes forums and message boards catering to different types of travellers (travellerspoint, n.d.). This would be a fantastic place to start for anyone working within the travel and tourism industry.
On another note, here is a video on collaborative communities called “Blue Shirt Nation“. The CEO Brad Anderson in conversation with Peter Hirshberg at Google Zeitgeist.
- Begin brand monitoring. An example of this would be to hire a company to monitor the internet for you. This includes listening to blogs, discussion forums, twitter, and everything else on your behalf to gain a better insight (Li & Bernoff, 2011). This would include research companies like Buzzmetrics, Attentio or Salesforce (Radian 6). After the information is gathered, the organisation will receive a formal report detailing the activity online where different departments can address issues or complaints and analyse what to do from there.
The only example I could find relating social monitoring sites to travelling came from Salesforce , whose client base is comprised of Southwest Airlines, AAA, and Cirque du Soleil. Salesforce tracks mentions on more than 100 million social media sites and include an engagement console that coordinates your internal responses to external activity by immediately updating
your accounts all in one spot (Lasica & Bale, 2011).
Stop, collaborate and listen
Like Vanilla Ice once sang, “All right Stop, collaborate and listen,” this rings true when companies must stop, work together to pool resources from social media and listen to what people have to say. All of this gathered information is great but if it is not put into effect, it could result in wasted money for the company (Li & Bernoff, 2011). Here are six reasons why your company needs to listen.
- “Find out what your brand stands for” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 93). You know what you want your brand to stand for but does it relate to the consumer’s perception?
- “Understand how buzz is shifting” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 93). Companies must continually listen to change to adapt to change. This is a leading indicator for sales and tracking involvement can lead to better understanding of consumer trends.
- “Save research money, increase research responsiveness” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 94). Private communities can deliver faster survey results which allow you to ask “why.”
- “Find the sources of influence in your market” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 94). By identifying the influential online users (by using the social technographic profile), “you can cultivate them” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 94).
- “Manage PR crises” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 94). Brand monitoring can serve as an early-warning system to prevent crisis’ before they get out of hand.
- “Generate new product and marketing ideas” (Li & Benroff, 2011, pg. 94). Finally, Consumers continually promote ideas about your products or services and how to improve them. The best part is that you do not have to pay for this information, you just have to listen.
Now that you’ve decided to listen, please review the Social Technographic Profile of your customers to gain a better understanding. it’s one thing to “listen” and it’s another to actually put into action the information you gain. Remember…. if you don’t use it… you lose it. When problem-solving or “listening” to your audience, keep this in mind:
Yo, I’ll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it
Ice ice baby Vanilla
Ice ice baby Vanilla
Blue Shirt Nation (2008) Youtube. CEO Brad Anderson in conversation with Peter Hirshberg at Google Zeitgeist. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9cKXZBYapQ
Lasica, J.D. & Bale, K. (2011). Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business. Retrieved from http://socialmedia.biz/2011/01/12/top-20-social-media-monitoring-vendors-for-business/
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell: winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, USA: Forrester Research Inc.
Stop. Collaborate and Listen Picture (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.nanozine.org/alright-stop-collaborate-and-listen.html
Travellerspoint (n.d.) Community. Retrieved from http://www.travellerspoint.com/