Should You Stop Your Social Listening Program

May 2, 2016 in Community, Social Media

Credit Brandwatch

Image credit: Brandwatch

Let’s face it almost every company out there has some sort of social listening program. It doesn’t matter if you are a tech company or in the food industry, you care what your customers and competitors are saying. The great thing is that there are a number of excellent services out there that will let you search for those conversations. The not so great thing is that a lot of companies are not doing the best job at listening.

It’s been said over and over that these days the customer not the company builds the brand story and reputation. Knowing that, why wouldn’t more companies want to engage in those conversations and take in critical feedback that will help them in the end? My theory is that these efforts do not immediately impact the bottom line and therefore executives do not see these programs as valuable. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Take the tech industry for example, let’s say that you are launching a product and you want to see what conversations are taking place. Wouldn’t you like to know if the people that are the first to try your product are having problems getting it to work? Wouldn’t it be great to take that information directly back to engineering and get the problems resolved before wide spread problems occur? On the other hand what if people love your product and are extremely pleased with the features and benefits your product offers? Wouldn’t your CEO love to hear that feedback?

Now, there are companies that do a great job of listening to conversations and actually engage with their customers at the right time. Yes, there is a right time to engage. Just because someone mentions your company doesn’t mean you just need to jump in and take over the conversation. Because of the nature of conversations you can’t just rely on software to tell you when to engage or to tell you the sentiment of conversations. There needs to be a human factor, which is why you need a team of people to monitor these conversations and either engage or direct the conversation to someone that can engage.

A while back Maker’s Mark decided to change the amount of alcohol it used in their whiskey. You can read about it here, but short story is that customers weren’t happy and took to social media to voice their concerns and the company listened, engaged with their customers, and made a change. There a numerous example of listening wins. Here are three more from Coca-Cola, Dell, and Starbucks.

Unfortunately there are lot more stories of companies falling at social listening. It’s really not that hard to make this successful people…just use common sense.

Don’t use someones death to make a joke:


Understand the hashtag before using it. In this example the hashtag was about domestic violence and it just made the company look insensitive:resize-3-970x446

Make sure you review your links before you send it out. ESPN found this out the hard way when one of its analyst tweeted out a porn link instead of the link about a top recruit.


The list of examples of bad engagement could go on forever. The point is, if you are not willing to train your social team correctly and invest the time/resources then you should just abandoned the program now and cut your losses. Using a little bit of creativity and time you can get past the point where you are just listening and start providing value. Here are just a few ways:

  • Feedback on products
  • Drive innovation
  • Improve customer care
  • Engage with influencers/advocates
  • Attract new customers
  • Generate leads
  • Hire top talent
  • Discover where your customers are having conversations

Would love hear your thoughts on the subject, feel free to comment hear or reach me on twitter @DennisMSmith