Susan Ganeshan, Chief Marketing Officer at newBrandAnalytics, is passionate about helping businesses increase revenue, gain operational intelligence and competitive advantage by teaching her clients to listen to social intelligence and bolster their online reputation. Susan recently spoke with Modern Marketing Today on the value of social intelligence and shared a few best practices for organization’s looking to boost their social reputation.
Can you tell us a little about newBrandAnalytics?
newBrandAnalytics helps service-focused industries extract intelligence from online conversations in order to drive customer loyalty. In other words, we help companies dissect all social media insight on the web and transform into operational intelligence. Using this intelligence, companies can improve their business in the long run and increase ROI and revenue based on new or updated product offerings. We work with businesses in a variety of industries including hotels, restaurants, retailers, and government agencies.
Why is social intelligence important?
What’s happened in the past few years in social is really interesting. Smartphone usage has skyrocketed and people are using their smartphones for more than simply web browsing. People are using apps like Yelp and OpenTable to review services, businesses, restaurants and hotels. In fact, research shows that 71% of people will search for a businesses or product before purchasing or visiting.
Social reputation is important and it’s vital to protect it. Online review sites are springing up everywhere and are widely visited—and information about your business and brand are on the review sites. Statistics report that four out of five people will change their purchase decision based on a poor review. Conversely, we’ve also found that 87% of customers will make a purchase decision based on the recommendation of a friend or online referral. Social content spreads like wildfire. If someone tweets about you, anywhere from 250-25,000 people will read that tweet. It’s no longer a question of if you should be following social intelligence and your social reputation, but how much effort you should be putting towards it.
What kind of value or actionable insights can be obtained from reviews, tweets, etc.?
First and foremost, it’s not enough to simply watch your “star rating”—you need to be listening as well. People often write reviews that are not necessarily reflected in the star rating they give. For example 29% of 5-star ratings have a negative comment in the feedback. If you’re not listening, you’ll miss ways to improve based on feedback. You have to spend time in an industry specific way understanding what the person is saying and categorizing the feedback. For instance, an online review of a restaurant might say, “I loved the burger, loved the soda machine, but it took forever for them to serve the food.” If you’re only paying attention to the five-star rating, you’ll miss out on the feedback about the slow service. While a single incident is no big deal, 10 or 20 is an opportunity to improve.
Additionally, social intelligence offers feedback that won’t be revealed from managers or customer comment cards. The average tweet about a business has 1.7 useful insights, while the average review about a business has 10 useful insights.
What results are being seen from social intelligence?
Various industries use social intelligence to make strategic business decisions in a number of ways. Whether making large-scale decisions like how to spend a small budget or selecting a location for a new retail store, or even small decisions such as brand refreshes or uniform updates, social media plays a significant role in the decision-making process.
We have seen restaurants roll out new menu items to great success. One great example of that is Five Guys. They were hearing a lot of negative feedback about the size of their french fries. Customers were saying that the portions were too large. After listening to the tweets, Facebook posts and online reviews, Five Guys decided to roll out a small fry option. They first tried it out in a few locations and after receiving phenomenal feedback, went nationwide with the new menu option. Likewise, Ruby Tuesday took away a rather longstanding menu item, their cheese biscuits. When social media lit up with disappointed customers, they decided to bring them back.
Hotels have limited budgets, but know that they need to constantly renovate and update in order to satisfy customers. At one hotel, a cumbersome check-in process was impacting their guest loyalty. Based on social intelligence, they made the decision to revamp their lobby instead of rooms in order to improve the check-in process. Now, the online reviews about the hotel’s lobby and easy check-in process attribute to the guests’ initial impression of the hotel and have improved guest loyalty.
How are companies using social intelligence to increase customer loyalty and drive revenue?
When people post a review or comment online, they’re intent is not necessarily to communicate with the company, but the world in whole. Businesses need to engage with reviewers, both positive and negative. While negative reviews are clearly helpful to diagnose issues, a positive review, when handled appropriately can actually benefit you as well. Our research has shown that a 1% increase in engagement with a reviewer will get anywhere from 11-25% increase in sentiment. People will decide to use your business rather than turn away. Engagement with customers doesn’t have to be a big production. Even something as simple as, “Thanks for you feedback, sorry about your experience” will show that your business is attentive and caring.
What can businesses do to get the most insight from social intelligence and keep from feeling overwhelmed by the amount of feedback they receive?
The most important thing they can do is automate the listening part. A human can’t discern trends or remember that six months ago there was an issue that is happening again. Automation helps understand long-term trends. And while we recommend automating the listening part, be sure that you don’t completely automate the reply and engagement side of the equation. Our solutions allow people to quickly get to the replies they want to get to, and show them what the reviewer’s main topic was about. We help shortcut the response time.
A best practice we advocate to avoid feeling overwhelmed is distributing the workload. This tip tends to make many business leaders uneasy. The common thought is that all social communication should be handled by one person in order to ensure consistency and accuracy. But it’s important to remember that the replies are not permanent, especially when using social media like Twitter. But distributing the workload is the way to deal with volume of feedback. We recommend the responding representatives be high-level executives like managers. Trust and train them and give them the appropriate messaging. And above all, teach them to not just reply, but offer useful information back to reviewers. This will help build your organization’s online reputation.