Clark BucknerThis is a guest post by Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice. Clark hosts the TechnologyAdvice Podcast and covers news and trends in the tech conference scene. Tweet him a hello!

In December, Shannon and I talked about ways to retool your marketing strategies this year. Among those five ways was to identify and solve problems through social listening. I found the topic super intriguing — how can you optimize your listening to help your customers solve their problems as they relate to your brands offering?

Beyond that, how can you leverage technology to improve your listening skills and build stronger relationships with potential and current customers.

I was excited to have another conversation with Shannon, this one to specifically discuss some tips and tools for social listening, incorporating best practices into your social CRM strategy, and using social media to impact your bottom line.

Here are the highlights from our conversation:

TECHNOLOGYADVICE: With the internet, if you’re not there and someone’s talking about you, [your team] still have the ability to actually hear them and most importantly, be able to respond.

Shannon: Exactly. I think we all always talk about the noise on the internet and how there’s so much clutter. But today with certain technologies, it’s easier than ever to really find the conversations that you should be partaking in. And that’s exactly right. You can join in and talk to people who are talking about you, whether or not they’re talking directly to you.

TA: What are some of the best practices that you have seen at Mention and any best case scenarios that you’d like to share?

Shannon: It may seem simple, but just like most other things in life, it’s really about defining what your goals are. With media monitoring specifically, it’s about setting up your process correctly to reach those goals.

Of course you can monitor your own brand name with the ability to catch those mentions that are not directed to you. They may not be using your Twitter handle or tagging you on Facebook, but they’re talking about you. That’s kind of like the baseline approach to monitoring.

But then let’s say you want to monitor for people who really love your product. If you want to identify some of your customer champions or brand ambassadors, you can set up an alert in your media monitoring tool with your company name plus the word “love” or “like” or “thank you” to identify those people who are truly out there like spreading the word, really helping you get your word out there.

TA: Definitely, right. Now once you actually do find those brand ambassadors, what is the next step typically?

Shannon: It always depends on who that person is. Your first step is to learn more about them, whether it’s just like checking out their Twitter profile or maybe even doing a Google search. It sounds kind of creepy, but a good starting point is just getting to know them — what industry they work in, what role they play, and then starting a conversation with them. Thanking them for the kind words. Consider asking them how they use your product or service more? Really get to know them.

TA: Do you recommend taking the extra step to try to build a list of people that you know are regularly speaking positively of you?

Shannon: Definitely. And here are several ways to do that. We do it from both social aspect and also from a customer development aspect. So for example, our community manager has a list in Twitter called “Mention Friends.” These are the people who are always talking about us, always communicating with us. And we keep that list going at all times to make sure that we’re a part of those conversations. Not just about “Mention” or “social listening” or “media monitoring,” but about there whatever else they’re talking about on the internet.

We do the same thing from a customer development standpoint with a tool called Customer.io. We use the tool to keep track of the communications that we are having with these folks to make sure that we’re staying in touch and providing them with the information  they need.

TA: If it’s somebody that you’ve never come in contact with and they don’t tag your account, are there any suggestions how you can still join the conversation without seeming creepy or pushy or anything like that?

Shannon: It’s really all about adding value. Again it’s paying attention to the contacts.

Perhaps your brand mention was a small part of a larger conversation with another person on Twitter or whatever social network. Take the time to look back to see what they’re talking about and see how you can add value, which can mean so many different things.

Adding value might be offering your product or service immediately, but in a nice polite way. Like, “Hi! I see that you’re trying to solve this problem. I think we can help. Let’s talk.” Or “Can I ask you a couple questions?” Something like that. Or maybe you have a resource or know of an external resource on someone else’s blog, that would be really helpful to that person. “I see that you’re struggling with this, this really helped me…FYI here you go.”

TA: Using marketing automation and CRM software is intended to help your team connect with additional people in more meaningful ways.

Shannon: I agree with you 100%. It really is about remembering that your customers or potential customers are people. And you should talk to them how they want to be talked to.

TA: What have you seen companies doing that have impacted the bottom line by just social listening and then incorporating this into their social CRM approach?

Shannon: A lot of people talk about the funnel approach to marketing. And whether or not that’s your thing, I think it really comes down to touch points. And social listening provides that very first touch point for you. Rather than just waiting for people to come to you with a ticket or inquiry about what your pricing is, you can be proactively out there by listening and being a part of the conversation. And from there, you can foster those relationships using social CRM software. By just keeping the communications going and logging them and keeping track of them, making sure that you’re following up with the information that they made.

For example, one of our clients and friend, Close.io had a competitor who was acquired by Salesforce and this required the competitor to close a lot of their international accounts. Knowing that that was going to happen, Close.io used Mention to monitor the competitor’s name plus “alternative.” With that, from one single tweet, they were able to close the deal that was $585 in monthly recurring revenue. It may not be huge in the broader picture, but it’s a lot from one tweet. And so if you keep up that type of communication, that can add up eventually.

TA: Are there any other stories you can think of?

Shannon: Yeah I think it’s also important to remember that these conversations go beyond just social media and to the deeper web if you will as well. We have some clients who used Mention for some of their press coverage they didn’t know about. So for example, a startup called Hazel Lane was using Mention and found articles in LA Times and a few other really big newspapers and that they had no idea that they were included in. And from there, they were able to reach out and build relationships with these journalists and secure future coverage which is awesome.

TA: If I were to sum it up, people want to be met where they’re at and with social listening and using social CRM tools, some of these different strategies, you can achieve that.

Shannon: Just to add to your point. I think people use social media for brand awareness and community building, which they should. It’s the perfect tool for that. But you can go beyond that.

You could really use social media and social listening to drive revenue as well. And it’s all about defining your goals, focusing, setting up your processes correctly, and being more human.

To learn more about Mention and other insightful case studies, explore the Mention blog and sign up for their content newsletter.  Connect with Shannon on Twitter @ShannnonB.

You can subscribe to the TA Expert Interview Series via Soundcloud, in order to get alerts about new episodes. You can also subscribe to just the CRM category.

Clark Buckner is the Online Events Manager at TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that is dedicated to educating, advising, and connecting the buyers and sellers of business technology. Clark hosts the TechnologyAdvice Podcast, and also covers news and trends in the tech conference scene.

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