Market research today includes a sophisticated form of eavesdropping: Social media listening. This listening is an important way to keep a pulse on consumer online activity, but it is not at all a passive endeavor. All manner of monitoring, tracking, and analyzing tools and processes have been developed to support social media listening. Market researchers have had to develop technological expertise in order to keep abreast of the many changes.

Social Media Management Is Not Just Pushing Out Content

Creating social media content and pushing it out to consumers in the social network is the easy part of the social media management equation. While timely responding to consumers in the digital networking space is important, it is a strategy that relies on reaction and not action. Consumers absolutely expect that companies will respond when they reach out to them. While the potential for delight is certainly present in responses to consumer outreach, consumers may be even more delighted with a brand when a company initiates contact in meaningful and individualized ways.

Considerations on the Path to Greater Consumer Connections

Consumers are drawn to companies that actively promote their brands in engaging ways, especially when participating in social media exchanges with those companies are entertaining. It is entirely possible for social media networking specialists to conduct social media listening without spending a large sum of money on expensive analytical tools and data collection dashboards. Although social media listening requires high levels of diligence, it need not be an arduous activity.

Customers expect that their interactions via social media networking with companies will be characterized by: 1) Transparency; 2) collaboration; 3) follow through; and 4) focus on the consumer. There are a number of paths to using social media listening that results in meaningful connections with consumers.

Strengthen Relationships with Consumers

Building trust should be a paramount goal for companies engaged in social media listening. Being present with consumers in their real-time conversations in digital environments is an important first step. Companies need to listen and respond to consumers.

Deal with Consumer Complaints

When companies are tapped into the consumer online conversations, they are positioned to hear about consumer issues, complaints, or concerns earlier. This provides an opportunity for resolution to take place earlier and better chances to work toward restoring consumer satisfaction. There is power in being able to respond immediately—within minutes or even seconds—to both positive and negative commentary in social media networks.

Gather Social Intelligence

The opportunity to listen in on social media networking exchanges that have not been scrubbed by a third-party or toned down by consumers is highly valuable. When companies can hear from customers directly about their preferences or needs in a product or service, they are positioned to take action based on that authentic and raw feedback. Companies are also in a better place to make timely product and service decisions.

Locating Consumers

Social media listening can feel anchor-less, unless it is possible to determine the context in which consumers are sited. In mobile digital environments, consumers can be located and appropriate responses can be generated. Associating where and when consumers are when they have unhappy interactions with a company or when they have stellar experiences optimizes the potential for making corrections or enhancements.

Benchmarking Consumer Sentiment

Consumers sentiments are always in a state of flux. Market researchers are challenged by this change because it is important to understand consumers as they are now and how they will be in the future—not how they were yesterday. Tracking consumers over time provides a big picture view of these changes and can be a boon to product and service development.

Summing Up

When market researchers and social media networking specialists determine the baseline of consumer behavior, they are then able to develop historical metrics and become better at predicting consumer behavior. As consumers become more sophisticated, so too must market researchers, marketers, advertisers, and publishers. Listening to consumers is the key to keeping the market research field current and relevant.About the author: John M. Caviness is a successful marketing manager at the service where you can ask to “write my essay for me cheap”. This job gives him an opportunity to express his opinion and thoughts on different topics including web development.