This is like asking how can listening to your wife increase the longevity of your marriage. It’s just true.
Before we jump into all the ways that social media listening can increase customer advocacy, let’s first define a few terms. I have always found that it is critical to get on the same page with definitions and semantics at the very beginning have a conversation and a point of view.
What is social media listening?
It’s simple. Social media listening can be defined as the practice of listening to conversations on social media for the purposes of managing brand reputation. There’s a lot more you can do but these are the basics. This practice does involve using the right technology, having a team to support, and operational workflows to ensure problems are being handled.
What is customer advocacy?
Many definitions of customer advocacy mention that it’s an advanced form of social customer service. While I do agree on the surface, it’s much more than that. Superior customer service is the byproduct of a business culture that prioritizes the wants and desires of its customers. How would you define customer advocacy?
They build products, structure and organize teams, and mirror the same values as their customer. They live and breathe customer obsession and every decision made within the organization is centered around that relationship.
It’s pretty simple concept if you think about it and it’s similar to “reciprocal altruism” for brand advocacy. I define customer advocacy like this: when you love your customers, they will love you back and tell others. These are words to live by. These are words I also live by.
The integration of a customer advocacy program is a necessary pillar of a B2B social media strategy because it’s built off the premise of trust and relationships.
Here are three ways to use social media listening to increase customer advocacy:
Identify Influential Customers: With social listening, you can not only identify individuals that have purchased your product or service, but you can also segment them based on their influence. Let me say that all customers are created equal (for the most part) but it wouldn’t hurt to pay special attention to your customers with large communities.
Surprise & Delight: This is very tactical but it works. It’s an approach where community managers listen to online conversations on external social media channels and literally “surprise and delight” customer with some sort of gift. It could be tickets to a concert, a gift certificate, or 6 months free service. It’s a fun way to put a smile on your customer’s face just for being your customer.
Product Innovation: This is where you collect real-time feedback about your product or service from your customers on social media. More importantly, you take that feedback and implement into your product roadmap. Of course, it should align to your business and product vision. But customer feedback will not just help you build a better product, but when they know you are “taking action” based on their wants, you will create customers for life.
For the critics that will say, “well, you forget social customer care” or “social media listening can help solve customer issues quickly and efficiently”, well duh … that’s a given and as already stated, a byproduct of a customer obsessed culture.
These tactical ways to use social listening for customer advocacy is table stakes for brands today. However, it’s even more critical to think long term about customer advocacy and how to make it a part of your business, especially as word of mouth continues to be a critical influence factor for buying decisions, according to an eMarketer report Gen Z shopping habits.
Customer Advocacy Program: When I worked for Yahoo! years ago, we built a private customer community for Yahoo! Groups Moderators. We met weekly and asked for their feedback on how we could improve the product and overall experience. We even flew them to the Yahoo! Headquarters and wined and dined them once per quarter. Maybe not the greatest example of a customer advocacy program since Groups is no longer with us but you get it. Essentially, it’s operationalizing a customer advocacy program and making it a part of the fiscal planning process.
Customer Community: Building a customer community is a best practice for B2B tech and SaaS companies. It’s an excellent way to facilitate relationships between your customers and create a space for them to solve technology challenges and innovate how they are using your product. Some customer communities are private and require login credentials, and others are more open for everyone to participate. In any case, building an online community for your customers to participate and exchange value should be an initiative that all business and tech brands prioritize.
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