Brands and conversations: listen quietly but act decisively

Posted on: January 16, 2011

Matt Rhodes writes that brands who begin engaging in social media monitoring may be tempted to join in every conversation, but that the right response to a ‘mention’ is often to ‘do nothing’ (however frustrating this may be).  He explains clearly two cases when a brand or organisations’ representative should post a response:

  1. Where an actual customer service complaint is being expressed
  2. Where incorrect things are being said about your brand, products or organisation

… but argues that wading in and responding to other types of brand mention is rarely wise and can be counter-productive. 

I agree with the thrust of this advice and have documented here a positive example of keeping quiet in the face of criticism – and how it resulted in genuine advocates responding to show the organisation in a very  positive light.

But saying nothing does not mean doing nothing. This is where the notion of reception comes in: taking what is heard and converting it into a tangible business response – perhaps in the research and development, sales or marketing functions.

Essentially an organisation being privy to what people are saying about it only generates core benefits when it can be reflexive enough to act upon that commentary, not necessarily (or usually) by joining the conversation, but by other means.

In the case of Pepto Bismol, what P&G learnt via social media conversations directly drove a digital advertising strategy focusing on the (pink) colour of the medicine, driving in turn a 7% increase in sales. This shows the value of listening quietly but acting decisively: it’s not just mentions or ‘sentiment,’ that count – but also, more importantly, what is done with it.

Image via Arroz do céu


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