With the increasing use of social media among both B2C and B2B buyers, socially active customers have more influence over your brand image—and your sales—than ever before. But even if social media plays a fundamental role in your marketing strategy, trying to use it effectively can feel like an uphill battle. There’s no mistaking its considerable power, but what’s the best way to harness it for your business?
Monitoring Tools: A Marketer’s Best Friend
The answer lies in how well you listen, and social media monitoring tools can help. Aberdeen research shows that businesses using these tools realize major benefits over those that don’t.[i] And their popularity is growing, with 48 percent of companies already leveraging listening tools and an additional 38 percent planning to.[ii] Why? Because they provide a quick, simple way to maximize social media ROI. By taking advantage of monitoring tools, you can:
- Turn chaos into order. The sheer volume of unstructured data generated by social media can seem like a logistical nightmare, with the need to track customer sentiments across myriad sites and pages making even sophisticated marketers tear their hair. New sites, apps, and trends constantly spring up, while the number of users continues to soar. If all this keeps you awake nights, you’re not alone—in one recent survey, 68 percent of companies cited too much unstructured data or an inability to integrate unstructured data as a top challenge.[iii]
Monitoring tools mitigate these headaches by making it easier to track, sort, and apply relevant information from the social sphere into specific areas of your business. By distilling what may seem like an overwhelming number of tweets and posts into organized market intelligence, these tools help you transmute what buyers and prospects say into better business results.
- Capture key customer input for process improvement. Social media and online communities provide a vast new arena for connecting with customers, and listening tools let you mine this resource for valuable information and feedback—which you can then use to streamline value chain processes. Socially savvy companies do exactly that, plugging in social media data to improve their performance in areas like customer service, demand management, product design, operations planning, inventory management, and more. And the results are nothing to sneeze at. For example, businesses that use dedicated social media monitoring are realizing:
o Greater customer satisfaction, with users achieving an 84.4 percent rate vs. 82.9 percent for non-users
o Faster order fulfillment, with users realizing 94.4 percent on-time fulfillment compared to 91.6 percent for non-users
o Higher average order value, with users showing a .6 percent advantage over non-users
o Better customer retention, with users at a rate 6.4 percent higher than non-users
o Enhanced gross margin return on inventory investment (GMROII), with users realizing 11.7 percent and non-users 8.6 percent
o Lower online cart abandonment, with users experiencing a 6.8 percent lower rate than non-users[iv]
Numbers like these paint a clear picture of how social media monitoring can help you understand, integrate, and deliver what customers really want—boosting not only your brand image, but your top and bottom lines as well.
How Do I Pick Which Monitoring Tools to Use?
The broad array of available tools gives you plenty of flexibility; many companies use multiple solutions to meet their goals. The ones you choose will depend on parameters like your business size, requirements, level of traffic, and budget (though many excellent listening tools are free, so don’t let money be an object).
A quick online search will give you a good idea of what’s out there, and new options appear regularly. To get started, you can check out this list of 50 top tools for social media monitoring, analytics, and management; this blog on 5 top free monitoring tools; or this 2014 comparison of 10 top monitoring tools, which includes handy tips on what to look for during the selection process.
How Can I Get More Customers Engaged in My Social Channels?
If monitoring tools seem premature because you’re still building your social media presence, you might want to explore these Supply Lines articles about how to engage customers on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. You can also read “Making Your Brand Contagious: Seven Success Strategies to Engage Your Customers in Social Media.”
[i] Supply Chain Executive’s Agenda survey, Aberdeen Group, February 2012
[ii] Omni-Channel Customer Experience survey, Aberdeen Group, February 2012
[iii] Supply Chain Executive’s Agenda survey