When I was a kid, one of my whimsical grown-up fantasies was to have the job of taste tester. A school film documented the daily lives of the fast food and ice cream taste tester, whose one job was to master the heart of flavor one bite or sip at a time.
It didn’t sound like a bad gig. Neither did the short-term prospect of getting invited to a focus group to try a new product. I would share my opinion. Maybe I would receive a complimentary gift card in the process.
As I grew older, I abandoned taste testing dreams for bigger and better professional ambitions – writer, teacher, nurse. I averted my eyes from the young men and women clutching clipboards in the mall food court, sensing any sign of weak prey that would be willing to spend 30 minutes answering questions about dish soap in a tattered, vacant mall parcel.
Enter social media – the best thing to ever happen to eager, enthusiastic, tech-friendly consumers like you and me. To have your opinion heard about a product or service, you can simply log on to Facebook or Twitter. Social platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are hot spots for enter-and-win contests and deals that you can seek and find on your time – not while you’re trying to buy your mother’s birthday present. These days, the social network is taking consumer social listening even further, with sites like Influenster willing to send you free products in exchange for your opinion.
Every time I market a product, I can’t help but think of Melissa McCarthy’s Saturday Night Live skit, “Taste Tester”. The enthusiasm that McCarthy’s Hidden Valley Ranch-loving character displays about “the product” is (sort-of!) what every brand wants to see and hear. In today’s market, all businesses, big and small, are engaging in the process of social listening and the power of social engagement to empower their customers and improve their products and services.
Watch: [ Taste Test – Melissa McCarthy – SNL ]
Why Does Social Media Work for Consumer Listening and Empowerment? And Why Should I Care?
My three-year-old nephew will never even have to dream of arriving at a towering skyscraper building to climb the elevator to a delicious, inquisitive consumer focus group. Soon, the Internet will wipe out any reason for gathering consumer data in person.
Social Media is the harvesting spot for information about your brand, business, and industry. Social media marketing tactics easily fit and apply to all businesses regardless of size and industry – but you need to focus your strategy tactics to achieve what your business and brand needs (ROI). Try engaging in one of the following social activities:
- Ask social consumers who follow your brand pages to write about your product online, allowing them to receive, try, and keep the product in the process. This allows you to gather valuable, real-time information from consumers around the world while also strengthening brand affinity. The bonus? Their blog or forum posts will also likely have comments within them, giving you further insight into how your product is received in the marketplace.
- Search your brand’s name within the social communities your business is on in order to see what’s being written about your brand. If it’s not what you wanted to hear, you may have an opportunity to reach out, fix it, and win a customer back.
- Employ hashtags to launch campaigns that allow you to better monitor your brand, and even specific products, events, and services. Social sites like Twitter and Facebook are hashtag-friendly, but some are not, so make sure you check each platform to make sure.
- Empower your loyal customers to share their enthusiasm for your brand online. If you know you have a raving fan, ask them to leave a review on your Facebook page or a nice comment on your YouTube video. Offering discounts and small freebies in exchange is always nice, too.
- Cultivate brand ambassadors. Engage with fans of your social media pages by replying to their comments, sharing their comments, and learning the best practices for recognizing loyal fans on each platform you reside on.
When the consumer says they like the product on social media (and comment and share), everyone wins. Try the practice of social listening and social engagement for your small business – I would love to hear about your small business victories!
You May Also Like: 10 Reasons Why Social Media Marketing is Essential to Today’s Small Business
Need Social Media Marketing Services? Please Contact Us.