Social Listening: Consumers Don’t Like It and What Your Brand Should Do About It

It’s common for companies to listen to conversations on social media. This way, they can understand consumer opinion about brands, products, and services.

The problem is consumers don’t like it.

A 2012 study by JD Power and NetBase shows that 40% of consumers think social listening intrudes on privacy, even though this is “social media.”

False Expectations?

The question is should users even expect to have online privacy in the first place?

Last summer Google basically told a federal court that people who care about privacy should not use their service and as Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET subsequently pointed out:

“Google reads your e-mail, knows what’s in your calendar, looks at your photos, and knows who your friends are, and that’s just via its in-house services. When you include the breadth of its search, Google knows everything about you that’s public information, from your address to all your online profiles, to your marital status and much, much more.”

I think part of the misunderstanding between consumers and marketers is that they look at privacy differently. Marketers spend a lot of time online – researching, studying and trying to understand how vast amounts of online data can be used to improve services.

But consumers aren’t as informed (no disrespect) about online data and how it’s used. Most of the time, they’re just afraid that their personal information is being used for something “covert” and they don’t like it.

But I want to have my cake and eat it too!

What’s interesting is that consumers want it both ways. They don’t necessarily want brands listening to their conversations, but they definitely expect them [brands] to respond if a consumer has a complaint!

There is no magic formula to help brands figure out what to do. What’s clear though is that marketers have to act in such a way that consumers are persuaded about the benefits of social listening.

What’s a brand to do…?

At the end of the day it’s all about respecting the customer, always getting their permission and going out of your way to explain why you need specific personal information from them. Here’s what social listening should look like:

  • Don’t just listen; understand the full picture before you respond.
  • Consider the context of online updates and conversations – your response should always satisfy consumers’ expectations.
  • Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value i.e. better experience and incredible customer service.
  • Demonstrate how listening builds relationships, rather than simply ‘intruding’ on consumers’ conversations.

The benefits that come from social listening end up flowing through to consumers as well. Marketers should therefore be bold about educating their customers and explaining how online conversations are used. This not only builds consumer trust, it also alleviates fears based on lack of knowledge.

What do you think? How should marketers behave in order to leverage the benefits of social listening? Please leave your feedback in the comment box below.

Social Listening for Healthcare Marketers: 4 Steps for Success

Are you in charge of managing social media at your healthcare organization?

Whether you’ve been around social media for a while or you’re new to the game, you’ve probably heard of the term ‘social listening.’

Social media listening is the continuous process of identifying and monitoring what’s being said about your organization online.

It’s not something that you do once (say at the beginning of your social media launch). It’s something that you do all the time – in the beginning, in the middle and throughout your social media campaign.

Why Listen?

Social media listening is important for two reasons:

  • To identify unmet needs and respond quickly to those who need your help.
  • To uncover potential problems that could potentially hurt your brand.

But according to a report by McKinsey most healthcare organizations have not been able to capitalize on social media listening because the insights are not well understood or applied.

Benefits of Social Listening

The beauty of social listening (a.k.a social media monitoring) is that you don’t have to do the talking – all you’re required to do (at first!) is pay attention to what other people are saying.

Social listening helps you provide better responses because you understand:

  • Who is engaging in conversation on a brand or therapeutic topic;
  • Where they are engaging;
  • What treatment solutions they found helpful;
  • What are their unmet needs.

So how do you get started? Here are four steps to help you become successful in social media listening:

#1. Set up Policy

Set up internal regulations or guidelines to help you govern your social media activities. Involve your legal department to ensure that your social media policies are HIPPA compliant.

Although there’s a lot of work involved at this stage, it will save you some serious headaches down the road.

#2. Get Educated

Brush up on your social media literacy – Read relevant blogs, attend social media conferences and webinars, and become familiar with the language used in social media conversations and related analytics.

Keep in mind that social media platforms change often and it’s important for you to keep up with the latest trends so that you’re more effective in representing your organization.

#3. Get the Tools…Get to Work

Get the right tools and resources for listening. There are many free and paid resources for listening, understanding and helping you to apply the information you have gathered. As you start to dig deeper into the process, make sure you understand:

  • Where your patients are hanging out online e.g. online support groups, blogs etc.
  • The language that patients use to describe themselves. For example one pharmaceutical company was surprised to discover that rheumatoid arthritis patients refer to themselves as “rheumies.” As you do your keyword research, keep in mind that patients may not always use the same words that you do.
  • What their challenges or unmet needs are. For example you might discover that most diabetes patients hate pricking their fingers for blood-glucose monitoring.

#4. Integrate Insights

Integrate the insights you have gained to your planning process. For example in the above example about diabetes patients, your company can use those insights to launch a new pain-free product.

Quick Wrap Up

Social media listening is a great opportunity for healthcare marketers to gain deeper understanding about target audiences, and to uncover potential problems before they become serious.

But the real value happens when healthcare organizations can translate those insights into solutions that resonate deeply with patients, providers and other stakeholders.

Your Turn:

How do you use social listening to gain insights from target audiences, patients and consumers?