Sep 08 The Importance of Off Channel Social Listening
It’s quite easy for brands to know what their customers want by seeing what they are saying on their social channels. People voice their love and disappointment for products or companies openly and for the most part they desire for the brands to notice them. Say you get a product in the mail, perhaps a pair of new headphones that you’ve been patiently (or not) awaiting. You open the packaging to realize that one of the headphones is broken. What do you do? Go right to the headphones website and click the ‘contact us’ button? Tweet how horribly upset you are with a meme and tag the brand? Post a comment on their Facebook Page? If you did any of the following, then the brand knows how you feel about their product because they have the right tools in place. However, not everyone follows this path, and when that happens what can brands do to stay in the know with their customers?
Brands should do a little something we call ‘Off Channel Social Listening’, which essentially means listening to anything that isn’t on a brand’s social channel. Below I’ve outlined some avenues to check out to see what your customers might think when they aren’t blasting it on social. But first, here is where eMarketer says consumers are getting their information before making a purchase.
Amazon Product Reviews (a.k.a Retailer Website)
If you are a brand that sells a product that can easily be resold on another site, that’s not as large as say a VW bus, Amazon is a great way to go to see what people think about your product. Amazon sells pretty much everything and now that I’m typing this, I’m going to see if they sell a VW bus. What do you know, they do, just not one that you can drive. If you go direct to The Monster Factory website and look at this product, you’ll find zero reviews. However, on Amazon, there are 7 customers who have chosen to rant about their love for this product which, could be helpful for the brand regardless.
Consumer Review Sites
The options for consumer review sites goes on and on; depending on what type of product your brand sells can direct you where to go to find out what people are saying about your product. For retail products (which includes some motor vehicles) two good sites to check for reviews before a purchase are Consumer Reports (membership site) and Consumer Search (free use). For motor vehicles specifically, there’s Edmunds and J.D. Power, to name two and then there’s also the whole slew of sites that provide reviews where customers will provide their comments and personal experiences. Trip Advisor, Yelp, and Google reviews (those reviews that pop up when you go to Google to find out where a business is located) are great places to go to find out what people are saying. It’s helpful for travel brands, retailers and restaurants in particular, as locations are rated just as products are providing users an easy way to find out if they really want to go to Mexican Village Restaurant for dinner tonight. Even though they only have 3 out of 5 stars, I’d recommend it.
Blogs, blogs, blogs. They are everywhere and although the percentage is lower in the chart above, I believe that some of them may also fit into the category of ‘Friends’ which is the second highest percentage on the chart above. And the ‘Social Media Friends’ section has a lot of people that read these blogs and follow their associated social handles. The blogs are run by those who we label as influential, they have a large audience and that audience listens to what they have to say. So why not, as a brand, see what they have to say?
Even if they weren’t compensated to write a review on a brand, the chances are that at some point they have come in contact with your product and have written about it. Taking a brief pause to hydrate with my bai Kula Watermelon drink I was curious to find what reviews I might find. The first blog post after I searched came up with this influencer post below who clearly states they were not compensated. Below that was a list of about five other blog posts who wrote about the product. Not only are those opinions great to hear but there’s also potential of turning someone into a brand ambassador.
While going to the brand’s social channels is a great way to see what people think, the off channel listening shouldn’t be ignored. New customers are brought into the brand’s family every single day (if not hour) and the pool of potential customers is so large it’s wise to make sure you aren’t always fishing in the same pond. If your struggling with how to go about doing some social listening off channels, reach out to us, we’re always happy to help!