We have done a lot of work around listening to consumer generated media in multiple markets around the world. We use a lot of different technologies and fit them all into our 3-part approach to Listening Posts.
* Conversation Criteria – determine the topics and keywords that you will “listen” for. This requires strong brand and product knowledge as well as a strategic eye to what conversations might intersect with the brand in some way.
* Listening Technology – there are hundreds of choices across all of the language markets in the world. Many have particular strengths and we select them based on those strengths and our need
* Action Reports – in this day and age, a voluminous report with no action recommendations is next to useless. Those recommendations can only come from an experienced strategist who knows the brand (yes, of course that is us)
5 Uses for Listening Posts
Okay, this is all well and good. Now, consider what Listening Posts are good for:
* Marcom insight to guide strategy and content development – what people say can inform our overall marcom strategy (not just ‘social’) and the words they use can be integrated into our content and taxonomy
* Crisis monitoring – listening and responding during a hot and heavy brand crisis
* Customer service intervention – assign response across customer service
* Product development insight – inform update to products and services
* Media planning – find relevant social sites for media buys
* Rapid response – story correction, customer intervention outside customer service, crisis early detection, finding opportunities
Better System for Rapid Response
There is a weak link in the last one: rapid response. If you want to have the proverbial ear-to-the-ground to catch a crisis before it blossoms or want to intervene when a customer blurts online that your servers are not designed to support complex CRM when they really are designed for just that, you either need ot have an always-on team scanning the Radian6 dashboard (or Visible or SM2 or whatever….) or you are likely relying on some Google alert + Twitter search feed. The first one can work but can become unwieldy when you factor in all the topics and brands a big enterprise or FMCG needs to follow. It can get costly. And it can teach your brand marketers to rely on someone else to “listen.”
Next Gen ‘Brand Intelligence Dashboard’
We designed and built a pretty robust listening post-lite with NetVibes. We use it everyday as do some clients. Now I need the next version and here is what I would suggest:
Top level requirements
We need a feed or display that everyone inside a brand organization can use and look at live throughout everyday. The goal is not to specialize listening into one research group but rather equip marcom team members with the capacity to listen and take action.
To be always on, it must be a simple display for any device – PC, Smartphone – and it must deliver daily email summaries.
We need a dead-simple administrative interface that trades complexity and power for simplicity.
It should combine sources that feature brand mentions – Google, Twitter, YouTube, white-label collection of blogs & forums.
It should provide a separate feed that combines topical mentions that might represent opportunities for the brand but no mention of the brand (e.g. Ralph Lauren would want to know if actual polo clubs were popping up in conversations as they might have an opportunity to productively connect with those people.)
The display of the information should be embeddable in a corporate intranet.
It must be easy to connect to a corporate LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) that authenticates users (manages passwords)
Each mention would feature simple tagging and forwarding so that I could assign it for follow up by forwarding to someone in my address book and/or tag it to sort later
Just Make It
This is a bit more sophisticated that Google Alerts and yet not as overwrought as engaging the simplest listening technology for $100K+ a year plus the cost of the team to watch and interpret. We all want to engage our brand marketers and communicators. But right now, we are just teaching them that listening to their customers everyday is someone else’s job, someone with a budget and technology and “magic ears.”
Build me this next tool and you will engage thousands of brand managers to listen and respond to their customers. You should probably still spring for the fancy enterprise listen and respond platform. But at least you will push your marcom team to do their own listening.
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