Social Media Monitoring: Know Your Customers AND Competitors

By on January 12, 2015

We all know how influential social media marketing can be.

But to truly be successful, you must add some sleuthing to your campaign.

Social media monitoring is one of the most often overlooked opportunities. Take the time to get to know your current customers, your prospective customers and your competitors.

Doing it DIY Style

I’ve been reading tons of articles lately that feature cool apps, tools and programs that can make your spying easier and more efficient.

Sure, those tools are great—but they aren’t free. I’d argue there is still some value in the old fashioned sleuthing—the DIY, free kind.

So, I got in there and did it myself. And let me tell you. It wasn’t always pretty. But it was insightful. Let me show you a few examples of what I found and how these techniques might help you better understand what’s out there for your brand.

What I Learned

One of our clients sells cornhole boards. I figured if I was going to start somewhere, checking out the “cornhole” buzz on social media was a good place to start.

Surely it would provide both high quality leads and a bit of whimsy.

Oh, boy…did it ever! Watch out…

1. Social Media Helps You Understand Just How Diverse Your Target Audience Is

Many companies use analytics, data, and all sorts of other indicators to help them identify their target audience. Sure, these things are helpful. Knowing that the average customer is male, between the ages of 24 and 30, lives in a large city and ate Wheaties for breakfast is helpful.

However, there is nothing…and I mean nothing…but social media that could tell you this person…

1cornhole

…and this person are in the same cornhole demographic.

2cornhole

2. Honest is Always the Best Policy

Social media has turned customer service upside down. In the past, a disgruntled customer might call you up and yell obscenities at you.

That sure would be terrible for your customer service representative, but the unpleasantness would stop there. The angry customer might spout off to everyone he knows, but that limited contact wouldn’t do much damage to your brand.

Now, that unhappy person can go online and tear you a new one…and everyone will know.

You’ll never be able to please everyone, but your chances are increased greatly if you are always honest and forthcoming about your products, services and abilities.

3cornhole

3. Learn about Problem-Solving Opportunities

You can apply this tip to a big-picture outlook. What are your customers saying about your product? What features, services, or products are they looking for? How are your competitors solving problems?

However, you can also apply this to a smaller scale. You don’t always need to solve everyone’s problems. Just solve the problems that are within your purview.

This guy was hosting a family cornhole tournament. Perhaps he could use just a few more cornhole game sets.

4cornhole

What if my client reached out with a comment like, “Hey man! It looks like you need a few more cornhole boards! The next time the family is coming to town, give us a call. We’ll give you 10% off your next order.”

Problem solving doesn’t always have to be about making a sale. If you really offer a helpful solution, the sale will come naturally.

For example, maybe this guy…

5cornhole

…needed something like, “Cornhole is definitely an acquired skill! I just wrote a killer blog article about how to score a hole-in. Why don’t you check it out? Here’s the link…”

4. Shine the Spotlight on Someone Else

Sometimes the best way to draw attention to yourself isn’t to draw attention to yourself. Confused?

I found this cornhole competitor and was inspired by his tactics. Sure, he was showing off his mad craftsmanship skills, but he did it humbly.

6cornhole

“Pretty awesome logo right here.” Not, “Pretty awesome paint job.” This guy was complimenting his customer’s artwork, not his own.

5. Check Alternative Hashtags

Hashtags are valuable marketing tools. The first way you can use them is to check negative feedback. Yeah, I said negative.

See if there are any negative hashtags associated with your competitors. If so, swoop in and save the day. See if you can fix what your competitor couldn’t.

Next, consider alternate search terms. You might set out on your social media monitoring quest with one keyword in mind. After you get into it, you might get lead down a different path. If that happens, follow it.

Cornhole is sometimes known as corn toss or bags. When I came across this post, I was inspired to try a new direction.

7cornhole

Of course, it wasn’t always profitable, but now I know!

8cornhole

6. Get the Scoop on New Product Ideas

Obviously, you’ll want to check which products your competitor is selling (and selling well) that are missing from your own inventory.

However, the research isn’t always so cut and dry. Social media monitoring allows you to be creative—think outside the box.

For example, this family is apparently pretty intense when it comes to cornhole. They made a trophy for their family competition.

9cornhole

Not all families are that dedicated to the sport. But, there are plenty of cornhole tournaments that take place each and every day. Most of those tournaments offer prizes of some sort. What if a cornhole board supplier also offered trophies? Would that be a profitable venture? It might be worth a little testing!

7. Connect With Industry Influencers

Social media monitoring is a popular endeavor. But most people only focus on the customers and competitors. Don’t forget about the industry influencers too.

Get your products on their radar.

This post…

10cornhole

…needed a comment like, “Good luck with your upcoming tournament! Let us know if you need any supplies. We’ll make sure you get the best prices for your boards, bags—whatever you need!”

What do you think? Obviously, some of the obnoxiousness of cornhole came through with these examples, but I’m sure your brand’s products are just as entertaining!

Give social media monitoring a try. Then come tell us what you learned.

Originally posted on Socialnomics.net

About Jessica Velasco

Jessica Velasco works for a marketing firm, interacting with clients in a wide variety of niches. She has seen first-hand what does and doesn’t work—as well as industry-specific trends of importance. You can find Jessica on Google+.
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