They’re Speaking. Are You Listening?


Your audience and even potential customers are speaking across social platforms, providing invaluable insight into their thoughts, expectations, sentiment, and values. Their voices, when heard, can help you transform the way you do business.

We [marketers] gather an astronomical amount of quantitative data each day that is critical to decision-making, but often we forget that qualitative data can offer equal, significant information. Social listening and/or monitoring gives brands a face and voice to the numbers we see in our charts, graphs and predictions. And without knowing the “why” behind those figures, we can’t make meaningful shifts or changes to grow as a brand.

Here are some great examples of how listening to audiences can have a positive impact on your brand:

Uncovering the unexcepted

Part of listening means being in tune with trends and the interests of your audience, not just how they feel about your brand.

Toms has been deemed a leader in customer-centered strategy. By adopting social listening as key tool for product development, they uncovered some interesting 411. What they realized is that they had an enthusiastic customer base that were fans of My Little Pony. It was a case of putting one and one together, by monitoring their audience and interests they were able to make a match made in heaven.

As a result, Toms partnered with Hasbro to create even more nostalgic-themed slip-ons like Transformers and Power Ranger made in sizes for all ages. Score!

Keeping it real!

One of the biggest benefits of listening is getting very real feedback on your products. When people are extremely excited or completely disappointed in something, they will take to social media and express their thoughts.

The masterminds behind Taco Bell marketing used Twitter to help perfect the Quesalupa cheese pull that they touted in their ads. By listening to followers the brand caught wind that many were disappointed in the false cheesy advertisement.

They made it a mission on Twitter with the help of their followers to find a recipe that would work.

Whether they pulled off the perfect pull or not, the idea that a brand immediately addresses and reacts to customer concerns is invaluable. It is telling customers that you are hearing what they have to say.

Dodging Disaster

For this instance, I prefer to share a cautionary tale than a success. Keeping your ears open and eyes peeled as a brand can keep you afloat (pun intended, you’ll see) of things that are affecting your audience.

I often refer to Airbnb as master storytellers and communicators, but that’s not to say that they’ve missed the mark a few times. When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas in 2017 – call it horrible, coincidental timing – Airbnb was getting ready to promote floating water homes. What Airbnb failed to do was be aware of the natural disaster that displaced over 30,000 Texans and killed hundreds and sent out an insensitive email titled “Floating homes, waterfall slides, & more reasons to travel.” 

Needless to say, people were not happy and had a lot to say about the email message. But like I said, Airbnb are really good at what they do. In response, they set up free housing for locals affected by the hurricane. As fate would have it I was in Downtown Nashville when the city was hit by a powerful tornado destroying homes and killing dozens of people. Airbnb learned their lesson, because that very morning local news let residents know that the brand had housing covered with $0 rentals available across Nashville.

Being dialed into your audience is so important and all you have to do is listen and let people know they are heard. At the end of the day, listening to people’s needs and wants is at the heart of a successful marketing strategy.

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