Social Fresh West 2014, billed as the “secret weapon for social media success,” wrapped up in sunny San Diego last week. This much anticipated conference brought together some of the brightest marketing professionals, thought leaders, and trendsetters in the social media space.
The presentations were intentionally brief, focused and engaging, featuring marketing and media experts like Elani Tavantzis of Lilly Pulitzer and Oracle Marketing Cloud’s own content and social media director, Chris Moody.
A common theme that emerged throughout this two-day gathering was how important it is to constantly listen to your own customers, rather than just follow the best practices or rush to adapt the “latest/greatest” new practices. To build your business and enhance your brand, you have to simply listen to and customize to your customer.
As social media marketers, we are challenged daily between following what we know as “best practices” in our industry vs. what would be best for our customers and for our brand. So how do marketers find what’s best for their brand? One answer: social listening.
Here are three case study examples profiled at the conference for their social best practice takeaways:
HP and the Power of Social Listening
One of the speakers who embraced the power of social listening was Paula Berg, digital media manager at Hewlett-Packard. She followed the words of her leader, CEO Meg Whitman: “Good strategy is as much the art of exclusion, as it is inclusion.”
Berg decided to turn directly to their customers to ask what and how they wanted to be “fed.” The answers she got were contrary to known best practices for social media, the daily feeding schedule of posts. HP customers were most concerned with the steady cadence of posts. They clearly stated that they didn’t want or need to hear from them everyday. Rather, they wanted their content all at once, condensed and concise.
HP created their own online magazine, Hpmatter.com, where customers could turn to once a month to get their dose of content.
Berg noted: You are your own brand expert in addition to these takeaways:
1. Strategy is as much about inclusion as it is exclusion.
2. Your audience isn’t average.
3. Nobody knows your business as well as you do.
4. Ask your customers if you need to. Listen carefully.
TV Land Learns Social Listening Lessons via Trial & Error
Sue Funke, social media brand manager at TV Land, faced a similar problem – what do you do when what is known to be the tried and true best social media practice gains no traction or engagement?
TV Land tried posting a still frame photo from one of their shows each day on Facebook and saw zero or negative engagement. They tried a variety of content scenarios with relatively low or negative engagement on both Facebook and Pinterest. They listened to their own customers and decided to try posts of lyrics to TV theme songs or popular songs from the show era. The results were incredibly positive. For Pinterest, they created images with quotes from the scripts of their shows and saw improved engagement.
Funke and her team learned through trial and error what their customers wanted to see that triggered their social engagement. Listening to your customer and not going with traditional wisdom of proven practices in the social media and marketing space is invaluable. What floats the boat of customers for one business or brand doesn’t work for everyone in the social media sphere. Sometimes posting a fun photo simply isn’t enough – you have to be able to connect with your customers.
Arby’s Uses Social Media to Listen to their customers for Ad strategy
Josh Martin, the director of digital and social media at Arby’s, relayed similar experiences about the power of listening to your customer through the real time interaction social media provides.
Through social media, the Arby’s team noticed their customers talking about loving their sauces. By providing this real time customer feedback to product development and the brand marketing team, the “Saucepocalypse” campaign was born. Several posters were created that told stories of the apocalyptic impact on people not having their sauce.
Arby’s had a repeat experience in picking up similar comments through social media about meats other than roast beef. This valuable feedback came from their own customers when they launched their “Meat Mountain” campaign poster showing all different meats other than roast beef. Their customers mistakenly thought it was a new sandwich and through social media, indicated they were anxious to try it. Thus the birth of Arby’s new $10 Meat Mountain sandwich.
For more takeaways from Social Fresh, follow the event discussion on Twitter with the hashtag #SocialFresh. How are you actively implementing your social media listening into your engagement plans?