The concept of “listening to the conversation” which is at the core of most social media programs, and is the foundation for many companies that sell listening tools, is really just a pseudonym for tracking content your customers create based on their satisfaction, or dissatisfaction. It’s often described as “share of voice” – the percentage of all online content and conversations about your company, compared to your competitors.
There are four keys to increasing your share of voice.
Out of sight, out of mind
Keeping customers aware of your brand on a continuous basis is a challenge worth tackling. We each interact with hundreds of brands each day, yet how many do you remember? Memorability is enhanced through repetition.
If you want your customers to create content about your brand, they have to remember engaging with your brand, and top-of-mind awareness is heightened through social Web interactions. The more your customers see and interact with you in the venues where they spend time, the more likely they are to remember your brand and create content. That’s why it’s important for brands to have a meaningful presence in large social Web outposts like Facebook and Twitter, and to actually engage with customers, not just create online Yellow Pages ads. Each interaction keeps the brand incrementally more top-of-mind, translating into more content creation opportunities.
Delight and Helpful
The best way to grow share of voice is to delight your customers. Delighted customers create satisfaction-driven content, which reaches other customers and prospective customers of your brand, essentially doing your marketing for you.
But that free marketing can be both a blessing and a curse. Social media is the ultimate b.s. test. If you’re mediocre, the community will figure it out, and fast. How would you like to be the #67 hotel for Indianapolis on Tripadvisor.com?
But don’t think the actual attributes of your product or service have to be great. They don’t. There are plenty of companies active in social media who use their prowess there to overcome deficiencies in their core business (Comcast, for example). In social media, it’s more important to be helpful than good.
Faces, not Logos
People are interesting. Companies typically are not. Thus, people like to talk about people. Perezhilton.com, Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, Sportscenter. Whether it’s rooted in envy, admiration, gossip or disdain, we have an innate kinship as a species that I just don’t see among my son’s hermit crabs.
Thus, if you want to increase your share of voice, don’t just give your customers something to talk about, give them SOMEBODY to talk about, too. This is the core of Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s forthcoming new book “Trust Agents.” Scott Monty for Ford. Lionel Menchaca at Dell. Donna Tocci at Ingersoll-Rand, Frank Eliason at Comcast. When I think of those brands, I think of those people, not the logos.
When you’re a kid, you get a lollipop from the doctor if you were a good, complacent boy, and you got the same lollipop if you threw a tantrum, knocked over a table of instruments, and tore the posters off the walls. (which one was me?) While dog trainers, marriage counselors and others might disagree, I support this concept of reward independent of behavior, and you should too.
Other than in an initial audit circumstance, I have a hard time grasping the concept of social media listening without responding. Would you pick up your (800) number and just breath into the phone, listening to customer praise or complaints without saying a word?
If you want to increase your share of voice, recognize people for taking the time to create content about your company, whether that content is satisfaction-driven or dissatisfaction-driven. If somebody uploads a photo of your product on Flickr, track them down and send them a thank you note and a coupon or a T-shirt. And if somebody writes a negative blog post about your company, answer the comment (remember the power of public customer service), try to solve their problem, and send them a thank you and a coupon or T-shirt.
If you treat the negative as good or better as the positive, it’s amazing how much you can innoculate against ongoing dissatisfaction.
Are you tracking share of voice? How are you going to increase it?