Social media has emerged as a powerful platform for individual users to engage among themselves, form communities, interact with brands, and voice their opinions. As of 2022, more than 58% of the world's population spends on an average 2 hours on social media engaging in varied activities. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok have billions of monthly active users.
Most social netizens talk about their experiences with a world of products, brands, and services. And in doing so, they create a gold mine of information, freely available online, for brands to understand the market and work on their value proposition. The practice of social listening has emerged, and retail brands have much to gain through it.
Social listening is tracking social media conversations, mentions, and customer engagement on a particular topic. Brands can monitor the activity on different social media platforms and generate data-based strategic insights.
For retail brands, this is especially effective as they serve end consumers, and the data collected from social media is an unfiltered representation of customer opinions.
But before investing in the practice, brands must be clear on how they can harness the power of social listening.
Retail brands stand to gain a lot from social listening, especially in the following four ways:
When end consumers talk about their experience with a brand, they often reveal how they discovered the brand, what influenced their buying decision, and the support offered by the brand through the purchase process.
Discussions and brand mentions can also center around prices, discounts, offers, assortment, variety, and convenience.
This can help the brand develop a deeper understanding of their target customer's journey and create more detailed customer profiles. Gaps in the customer experience and delighting factors can be identified to strategize future moves.
Social listening on multiple platforms can also reveal high-relevance channels for sustainable customer engagement. While some retail brands may find loyal target audiences on Facebook, others may connect better on YouTube or Instagram.
It can guide the design of content marketing and digital campaigns for maximum impact.
Angry and dissatisfied customers are the first ones to leave negative reviews and even lead smear campaigns against a brand. Through social listening, retail brands can identify brand detractors and proactively take corrective actions.
Empathetic social messaging and sensitive handling of negative reviews can help brands manage their reputation and encourage new customers to view the brand positively.
Social mentions of the brand name, brand's products, or specific topics can help identify relevant customer communities and niche forums. Within these communities, influencers can be identified who can promote a retail brand's interest, increase positive awareness and drive conversions.
In sum, retail brands can harness social listening to improve their understanding of the customer market and shape their value proposition to enhance customer experiences. The insights can support strategic decision-making for sustainable retail brand growth.
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