The Listening Game: How the Strongest Brands Listen to Win

By: Jordan Hathorne

Social-ListeningIn the brand world, it’s often easy to forget that social media channels are not just podiums to stand on to talk at our audience. One, if not the most important aspect of a healthy social media presence, is actually listening to your audience and what they are saying about your brand. Recently, CNBC published an article where they were able to look at data about the social media efforts of 50 large food and beverage companies. The data gathered by Brandwatch showed the visibility, responsiveness, and positive or negative sentiment of these brands Facebook or Twitter mentions. According to Will McInnes, the CMO of Brandwatch, “Having a high social engagement or positive sentiment from consumers can definitely affect a company’s bottom line.” This is why it’s of the utmost importance that social media teams understand what people are saying about their brand and ideally why they are saying it. Let’s take Coca-Cola for example. According to Forbes, Coca-Cola is the fourth most valuable brand in the world. They also happen to have a very high amount of social media mentions and positive sentiment around those mentions, according to CNBC. This high amount of social media success comes from listening to what your audience has to say about your brand and then adjusting accordingly.

If listening is half the battle of a strong social media presence, then responding could be the other half. Take Groupon’s recent “Banana Bunker” campaign. Groupon knew their product looked humorous, and that their social media audience consisted of a demographic that would respond to it. They anticipated their users to comment about the product’s phallic appearance, and instead of brushing it off or ignoring it, Groupon kept their team on the situation and replying to these comments comedically to keep engagement high. The product subsequently sold out. Through listening and monitoring their social media presence, all that Groupon had to do was post a certain popular product, respond to their audience, and sit back and watch their engagement skyrocket. This campaign helped Groupon achieve its highest social media presence to date, garnering 12,000 Facebook comments, 18,000 likes and 43,000 shares. This success was planned and achieved by listening to their audience and then executing a campaign where they had a high probability of success and would be able to interact with their consumers. This tactic of responding to a brand’s audience is not new, but it works, consistently. According to CNBC in the data gathered by Brandwatch, “Companies that tend to respond to consumers’ social mentions tended to have higher sentiment scores.” In this way, brands create a cycle of social community engagement that if done correctly can lead to higher sentiment among a brand and its audience. If a brand successfully monitors their social media presence, listens to their audience, and responds to what they are saying, they have a much higher chance for positive social mention and overall social success. The bottom line is that the best kind of social media interaction looks more like a conversation than a presentation.

Contact Jordan:

Twitter: @jordanhathorne

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/jordan-hathorne/71/176/3b5

Portfolio: www.jordanhathorne.com

 

This Article Has 18 Comments
  1. Kayla Gordon says:

    Great post Jordan!

    I enjoyed the mini case study on Groupon’s banana bunker. I knew that it generated a lot of attention but I had no idea that the engagement numbers were so high! Maybe more companies should incorporate humor and work to improve their ‘human’ voice on social media.

  2. Bryna Geary says:

    Jordan- I like your last sentence of the post, “The bottom line is that the best kind of social media interaction looks more like a conversation than a presentation.” I agree with you in that brands need to listen and watch what people are saying about them in order to fully understand them and gain their attention and loyalty. It is always nice when one of your favorite brands or companies respond to you over social media. It creates a connection and is much more personal!

  3. SSM Student says:

    I really enjoyed this article, Jordan! I agree that brands need to interact with their customers and take into consideration what people are saying about their brand and company. Connecting with customers on a more individual level creates a strong audience and support system behind the brand, itself. The more people that feel welcome and included, the “more vibrant” you brand is. Well done!

  4. Christina Roach says:

    Jordan,

    I really like how you said “the most important aspect of a healthy social media presence, is actually listening to your audience and what they are saying about your brand. ” I too can agree with this. I’m sure most, if not all of us, have experienced an encounter with a company that didn’t listen to us. Of course it is important to be active via social media and to have a presence with your audience, but it is even more important to listen to us and what we have to say. Doing so creates a more personal connection and a strengthens brand loyalty. Without a supportive audience what does a company really have in the social media world?

  5. Darin Shelstad says:

    The Groupon ‘banana bunker’ campaign is a perfect example of how brands need to exist with their communities. Brands need to be seen not as a separate entity, but something the consumer can relate with. You said, “If listening is half the battle of a strong social media presence, then responding could be the other half.” I agree, and brands that respond well seem more “alive” and reach people on a certain emotional level.

  6. Kalie Browne says:

    This post makes a great point about how important it is to be creative and engaging on social media. Those brands that make the effort to stand out by connecting with customers in unique and fun ways are always more likely to gain valuable followers both online and off. People like to know that they are being heard and are excited with brands interact with them so I am not surprised by CNBC’s numbers.

  7. Bri Briggs says:

    Jordan,

    Great insight! I had not looked into Groupon’s recent campaign, it was a great example! I like how you mentioned that the best kind of social media interaction looks more like a conversation than a presentation. In today’s world, consumers want to buy and support companies who have values that mirror their own. For this reason, it is extremely vital for companies to embed themselves in these conversations in a natural way; gaining a relationship with consumers is a must.

  8. Katie McGuigan says:

    Jordan,

    I feel like your post is spot-on in highlighting the most important part of social media interactions. Companies can’t keep dumping meaningless posts onto their social media platforms. The real connections are built when the company is engaging with their audience, which is not possible if they aren’t listening. It eerily sounds familiar to real world relationships…I guess people need to interact with brands that feel human so that they can feel a connection?

    -Katie
    @knmcguigan

  9. Michael Eiden says:

    Jordan,

    Brands definitely need to take a page out of Coca Cola’s book because they do have wonderful engagement with their fans and customers. Companies should adapt to how people are talking to them via social media to get the purest form of customer feedback easily. I believe that some companies are robotic with its social media and it has led to a disconnect with the consumer. Eventually companies will understand that they need to genuinely engage with its audience and use their feedback to create a better product or service. Well said!

    – Mike
    @mikeeiden11

  10. I’m wondering if with this ability to narrow in on feedback via social media, brand will grow stronger in this digital age. Not only do these companies have constant real time feedback, taking the form of even short and casual tweets by users, but too, they have access to the users’ other likes and interests, and can from those target them in very interesting ways. I used to think that with the infinite interests the Internet allows us to engage, the strength of brands could potentially die down, but now I’m realizing they have more potential than ever to reaaally get to know their audience, and the best places and ways to reach them.

  11. Tatiana Skomski says:

    Jordan,

    Great post! I think listening is so extremely important when it comes to brands on social media. Brands can further understand exactly what their audience is engaging with more and therefore produce content that will better suit them. I liked your Groupon example as a way to listen effectively in order to create more strategic social media.

  12. Henry Cromett says:

    Listening.

    So key for all brands. Way to highlight that. Listening should definitely extend to cover all elements of a brand, not just social media. The digital age is really interesting for brands, as they get a first person message from customers in real time about their wants and needs.

  13. Margaret Sutherland says:

    I agree that it is so important to listen to what your customers are saying about your product. After all, they’re the ones buying it right? We should be tailoring our content to meet their needs and also responding and acknowledging what they have to say. Social media engagement effects the bottom line! The people who are engaging are the people who will most likely be buying your product. This rings true for people thinking about buying followers, NO!!! What is the point of having a ton of followers who aren’t engaging and who aren’t buying your product. There is no point, and they are not contributing to your bottom line. Great post.

  14. Craig Garcia says:

    You really did a great job with this post. You gave great examples on how social media needs to not only be a part of the community, but it needs to keep conversations going in that community by being a brand with a voice.

  15. Sara McCauley says:

    Jordan,

    Great post! It is so important for brands to listen to their consumers and I personally believe that listening takes priority over creating content. I loved the Groupon example as they do a great job with strategic social media.

  16. Danielle H says:

    Jordan –
    That is amazing that they had the time to look at 50 large food and beverage companies. I can only imagine what going through that data would look like. I think it’s super important that companies are always monitoring and listening to what customers and guests have to say, since that is the best way to understand their opinions and suggestions. I wonder how coca-cola is able to be so valuable since they are a huge brand.

  17. Makenzie Hammond says:

    I definitely agree with you, Jordan! We can especially see this being valuable after the social media audit. Listening to what people are saying about your brand is extremely important and if you are not clearing up issues and responding to the people who are actively seeking out your social channels, what is the point of even being on social media? There is great value in knowing the ins and outs of your immediate consumer.

    Really enjoyed your post, Jordan!

    Makenzie Hammond

  18. Sijie Li says:

    Jordan,
    Good catch!
    Listening, one of the easiest but important skills, is always overlooked by a lot of companies. In today’s buzz world on social media, it’s important whether or not a company truly understand developing ‘human’ voice on social media. Maybe the social media strategist should learn how to talk and think like a humanbeing on social media.

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