Listening: Social Media’s Secret Weapon

Last night, the family and I went out for sushi at a local restaurant. The meal was delicious as it always is, but this time, unfortunately, the line for the potty at 3am was a very popular spot. Since this is their first offense and I have eaten there on many occasions, I am not going to jump to conclusions about the overall quality of their food (yet) or write anything nasty about them on or on Twitter (yet.) (I will send them an email informing them of the incident, however.)

My point here is what if I did decide to blog or tweet about my experience at their restaurant? How many people would I reach with my negative comments? Jersey Bites gets over 5000 viewers per month and I have close to 2400 followers on Twitter. That’s a lot of eyeballs.

While many brands have already adopted listening strategies to pick up on negative and positive comments in the blogosphere and on social media platforms like Twitter, many more have yet to discover this secret weapon at their fingertips. In my experience, restaurants have been very slow to adopt any online strategies past launching a website. Heck, I recently reviewed a restaurant and tried to email them a copy only to learn that they didn’t have an email address. I had to email the review to their web developer who in turn had to either read it to them or print out a copy and mail it.

Let’s just pretend for our purposes here that restaurant A where we consumed our bad sushi was up to speed on Social Media and did have a listening strategy in place. And, let’s assume I tweeted about my bad experience last night to my 2400 followers.

“Don’t go to Restaurant A. Their sushi made me sick.”

Restaurant A would receive an email notification of my tweet or view it online with one of the many listening tools available, and would be able to address the issue head on. In my opinion, given Twitter’s ease of use and immediate gratification factor, an unhappy patron would be more likely to tweet about a bad experience first before they ventured onto Yelp or Chow to leave a bad review. Restaurants may be able to avoid a negative review altogether by replying to this tweet apologizing for the bad experience, thanking them for the information to help improve, and perhaps even inviting them back for another complementary meal. I know it would impress me if I received a sincere reply to my complaint and I would be much less likely to bad mouth them any further or write a bad review online.

So, what are the listening tools a business can use to monitor what people are saying? Here are my favorites. There are quite a few more, both free and fee based, but for the average small business owner these are a very good start.

1. Google Alerts: Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

  • Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:

    • monitoring your company name, brand, keywords for your industry

    • keeping current on a competitor

2. Monitter: twitter monitor lets you “monitter” the twitter world for a set of keywords and watch what people are saying.

3. Tweetlater: Automated keyword alerts sent via email in digest form

If you have a favorite listening tool for Social Media, please share it here in the comment section so we can build comprehensive resource for everyone.