Listen Smarter: How to Balance Proactive and Reactive Listening on Social

Frank Eliason

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Frank Eliason

Frank Eliason, Citi @frankeliason

Frank Eliason, author of the new book At Your Service and Director of Global Social Media for Citi, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss crafting a cohesive social strategy for a global corporation, relying on the instincts of his team, and listening smarter.

Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.

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Tweetable Moments

“I view my role as someone who’s there to connect the dots.” -@frankeliason (tweet this)

“Companies have listening all wrong, for the most part.” -@frankeliason (tweet this)

Proactive Listening

Citi offers a huge range of services: consumer banking, business and enterprise banking, government banking, and so on. Frank’s job is to  facilitate bringing all that together into one cohesive social strategy. He says the diversity of Citi’s services and workforce are their greatest assets. Their social media strategy is, therefore, not wholly centralized as it might be with a less colossal company. He wants to ensure that the different consumers, different markets, and different aspects of the company are respected, instead of being rolled into one big lump.

#CitiVolunteersA unique challenge at a company like Citi is strategizing for different parts of the world. Frank needs to know not just what platform is popular or effective in the United States, but also which platforms Citi should be actively using in, for example, southeast Asia.

How does he do it? Education.

He relies on the instincts of the local team and the experiences they’ve gained from using social in their personal lives. “I try to bring out the way they use social media in their part of the world and to view it from the perspective of the consumer.”

The tenets of good social media are the same anywhere: start with listening, tune in to your consumers, supply utility to your followers. No matter where the social media is happening or what platform it’s on, there’s always that temptation to talk just about the brand, the services, and the products. But these are perhaps the least interesting things a brand can talk about. It always needs to come back down to what does your consumer really want?

It’s important to allow mistakes to happen. The little stumbles become invaluable learning experiences for the team and make them that much more prepared for the future and help them understand the climate that much better.

Perhaps most impressive is the way Citi has changed in response to the things they’ve learned from social media listening. For example, people who are having trouble making mortgage payments and in danger of losing their house don’t want to talk to a “Loss Mitigation Specialist.” Understandably, they don’t trust someone with that title. Citi changed the paradigm and now calls them “Homeowner Support Specialists.” It’s not just a semantic change; it’s an adjustment to the whole approach, and it’s one that they couldn’t have made without really listening to what customers were saying.

Holy Social!

This week’s Holy Social! comes care of Karyn Cooks from Flair Media, who was outraged at a post on fashion-forward brand Tradesy’s Facebook page last week.

Tradesy Facebook Blunder

The picture was posted on the 4th of July with the caption, “It’s party time!! For our ladies over the age of 28, check out our tips for avoiding an “adult hangover” tomorrow…and be sure to keep it classy,” with a link to an article about avoiding hangovers.

Jeff sums it up well: “This strikes me as somebody marketing humorously for themselves and not thinking about the brand and the consumer set.”

The rest of the posts on their Facebook page are on-message and fit with their brand, and even the link in the offending post leads to a good piece of content. This one glaring exception seems to be a case of one person missing the mark.

The reaction to their post is surprisingly low-key, with just a handful of negative comments. Is this, perhaps, an indication of the death of outrage over this type of post on social media?

Social Media Stat of the Week: 55% of brand advocates use email to share

SocialTwist did a study over 18 months with 3.2 million participating consumers to find out how consumers interacted with its social sharing program. Of the customers who became advocates (by sharing with friends or family), 55.4% used email to share, while 41.8% used Facebook.

So who are those shares reaching? The Facebook shares became amplified immensely, with many of them reaching 15 times the social connections of the original campaign.

But again, email took the lead with creating new customers, driving more than 50% of the new customers (more than Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn combined).

The moral of the story? Don’t dismiss email marketing as if it is not part of social strategy. It’s not enough to just look at how people share or how many people were reached. It’s important to also look at what actually drives new visitors, new customers, and new business.

Four Your Information

How did you get involved in social media?
Frank’s daughter was born pre-maturely in 2000, so people were expecting constant updates from him at the time. He put up a website to keep his friends and family updated without having to constantly be on the phone with them. It wasn’t called social media yet, but it was social media.

What do you like best about social media?
In the early days, it wasn’t about businesses. There were businesses on social media, but we knew the people behind the brand. It’s the human aspect that really appeals to Frank.

What do you like least about social media?
“The negativity.” He’s seen people get banished instead of understood.

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who might that be and why?
Tim Cook at Apple. No one will ever be able to fill Steve Jobs’ shoes, but he has overcome some immense obstacles and must have a fascinating perspective.

See you next week!

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