Gleaning Business Intel from Social Media

Katherine Bennett - July 29, 2011

It seems like social media has exploded over the last few years, yet there are many businesses that aren’t quite sure how to use it as a benefit. They’ve tinkered with coupons, giveaways and sign-ups. They’ve even asked people to like their page or follow them on Twitter. Although they’ve tried these different strategies, they still aren’t seeing the great results that they’ve heard others talk about. Social media is not a quick sales fix, it’s about communication. More importantly, communicating with your audience.

Many businesses fail to use social media as a communication tool to connect with their audience. Consumers are willing to give their feedback about a product or service, but someone has to be taking notes. To better utilize social media, ask your target audience to share their opinion about your business product or service. It’s not rocket science, and it could help your business improve an existing product or service. Let’s say for example that a restaurant has recently introduced a new spicy food dish. At first it’s a huge hit, but then the orders for this new dish start to fizzle out and the restaurant owner is wondering why? Instead of discontinuing the dish, the owner starts a social conversation inviting consumers to give their feedback. As the feedback comes in, the owner realizes that customers are disappointed because the spicy food dish isn’t that “spicy.” This feedback helps the owner improve the dish and customers are invited to test the improved version. By simply communicating, the restaurant owner has solved the mystery of why the spicy food dish orders fizzled out.

It sounds simple, but businesses can miss out on opportunities if they aren’t listening. In fact, service and product revenue can be increased from simply reading consumer’s social media communications within your community. Let’s say you own a company that services computers. The business is doing well, but you are wondering where improvements can be made.  As you read through posted comments and tweets, you notice a recurring theme. Customers want extended hours on weekdays, so that they can drop their computer off on their way to work. In fact, many have changed their weekend plans or haven’t even brought their computer in because your weekday hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. This forces them to come in during their lunch or rush through traffic to get to your business before close or look elsewhere for help.  What’s the solution? Your business shortens up its weekend hours and extends its weekday hours.

Social media can be a great asset to your business, if it’s leveraged correctly. If your business will learn to pay attention, your audience may be providing new ideas and business solutions.

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