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It’s Elementary, Dear Watson: Why Being Your Own Spy is So Important

After a long day of holiday shopping, my family decided to pop in to one of our reliable local restaurants to refuel. We sat down to discover that this restaurant had not put a single decoration in their store for the holidays. Not a snowflake, snowman, poinsettia, nada. I understand being sensitive to different religions, but come on, the place was sad compared to all of the other festive places we had been that day.

I had previously chatted with this restaurant on Twitter and decided to send a quick tweet to see if anybody was listening. After a couple of days with no response, I hopped on their Facebook fan page and left another message. This time a couple of other customers responded, but nothing from the restaurant. Needless to say, we were very disappointed and told just about everybody we knew about our experience, and we’ve not been back since.

Unfortunately, this story could be told many times over with different people and different companies.

Why Do You Need to Monitor Chatter?
With the pressure to join the social media bandwagon, many companies – small and large – have taken the leap. They’ve sent out a few tweets, put a few posts on Facebook, posted a video or two on YouTube, and maybe even started a blog. But, they’ve neglected to engage with (see my previous post) or listen to what their fans are saying.

What business owners tend to forget is how fast word can spread in this rapid-exchange media environment. There is no time clock, there are no geographic borders; instant gratification is expected.  These reasons alone should make you want to read on.

What Are the Top Things to Watch For?
Complaints.  Catching somebody’s complaint early can easily turn an upset customer into a satisfied customer. Show your customers you care, by offering a solution to their problem. Think how fast that message will travel!

Compliments.  The perfect time to send a simple “thank you” or we hope you come back soon. Good customer service is rewarded by customer loyalty. Keep track of these compliments and use them as customer testimonials.

Advice. People turn to their trusted networks for advice on service providers, places to eat, products to purchase, etc.  If you are listening, you can jump in and offer a bit of information: a coupon or special promotion, or inside information on a product or service.

Competition. If you are watching media channels with keywords that describe your industry, news of your top competitors should pop up. Use this information to shape your marketing efforts, product direction, and consumer outreach.

How do I Start Listening?
Google Alerts
. Go to http://www.google.com/alerts and set up keywords that Google will scour the Internet for. These could be your company name, product names, competitors, etc. Google will then alert you via email when they find something.

Twitter. Check your @replies and Direct Messages often. These are the people who want and expect a response. Use Twitter Search http://search.twitter.com to look for specific keywords, and reply accordingly.

Facebook and Blogs. Check your posts on both sites regularly throughout the day. Thank people for likes. Respond to comments. Start a discussion. You can also search for blog sites and topics at http://blogsearch.google.com or http://technorati.com .

These are just the basics, but are a must for every company. For more monitoring sites, visit http://wiki.kenburbary.com/

Get going, Sherlock Holmes. It’s up to you to be your own detective. Can you afford not to meet the challenge?

Photo by amypritchizzle

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5 Responses

  1. LuAnn Glowacz says:

    LOVE this post, Andrea! Businesses have to understand that even if they don’t make that common half-hearted attempt at social media, they are STILL out there being talked about. If you’re in retail, food, hospitality or in a service industry like healthcare or dental, check yelp.com > it’s almost guaranteed people are talking about you there. But that’s a whole ‘nother post, right Andrea?!

    • Andrea Schulle says:

      Yes, ma’am. In this post, I was aiming for a 101 approach. There is so much that can be done – and much can be tailored to the business and their market segment. I think a 201 post is definitely in order. I am glad YOU found it useful.

  2. Chris Bailey says:

    Excellent post, Andrea. It’s kind of like giving out your business’s phone number but never answering it. You let it ring and ring and ring. Would any business agree that allowing that is okay? Not if they wished to stay in business for long.

    I like your top two things to watch for: complaints and compliments. Now your next post needs to be what to do after you get those complaints and compliments. That next step can determine whether your business lands in crapper or lands a few new customers.

    • Andrea Schulle says:

      Coming from you, Chris, this is a HUGE compliment. You know that I love your business anthropology approach to marketing – and monitoring/listening has a lot to do with that. You are really getting into the brains of your customers/competitors. I also like your idea for a follow up post. Hum… Will add it to the editorial calendar now. Thank you for reading and supporting The PR Channel.

  3. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrea Schulle and Andrea Schulle, LuAnn Glowacz. LuAnn Glowacz said: Community managers — you'll want to comment: Why Being Your Own Spy is So Important http://bit.ly/i0IFYY via @theprchannel [...]

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