Wednesday, January 11, 2012

You’re Posting – But Are You Listening?

By: Kristen Paquet, Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

If you’ve been keeping up with to your social media accounts for your business, then you are only doing half the job it takes to maintain a quality Facebook page or Twitter feed (or any social media account for that matter).

We’ve been given some great lessons on the importance of listening to our follower and fans over the past several months. Netflix is the big one, with the subscriber uproar that came when the streaming service said they were separating services under two different websites and charging for both. The public’s voice was overwhelming and people canceled subscriptions in record numbers. Ultimately, Netflix, abandoned the idea of two different websites, but the increase in charges remains intact.

More recently, Verizon said it was going to start to charge a $2 “convenience fee” for online or by-phone single payments in an effort to boost customer payments by electronic check or Auto Pay. Within hours, there was a huge outcry from customers via social media. It only took one day for Verizon to change its mind on the fee (and hooray for me – as I’m a Verizon customer).

You don’t have to be a huge company to learn the two lessons that have come from these examples. Even small businesses, especially if you are offering a service or a product, need to pay attention:
  1. Listen to what your followers, fans and bloggers are saying. They will give you more insight than any market study or survey ever will. The comments shared are more real and raw and are most likely a better representation of what you really need to hear. That being said, you do need to take all of the data into consideration before making a decision.
  2. After you have listened, react quickly. Online comments and blog posts go up fast so you need to react as soon as possible good, bad or otherwise. In the case of Netflix, it took the company’s CEO to issue an apology to customers on the way they were informed of the changes, giving people more time to get hot under the collar (and more time for negative news stories to run). The take away here: the more you linger, the louder your audience is likely to get.
If you’re not seeing a lot of conversation or comments on Facebook or Twitter, get your followers talking by asking questions, asking for user feedback or offering a special promotion for those that respond to one of your posts. Once your followers know they can use your page as a sounding board, the more they will be willing to comment – especially if they feel their voice is being heard. So be sure to listen!

Does anyone have an example of when listening paid off just as much (if not more) than posting? Please share? Hey…is anyone out there listening??

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