To uncover and understand consumers’ opinions, emotions and behaviors, companies now regularly listen to conversations in social media about brands, products and services. But doing so raises new questions related to online eavesdropping and digital privacy. Do consumers know companies are listening? Do they find it acceptable? Which kinds of comments do they want companies to respond to? And looking at the big picture, does pervasive social listening turn companies into an online Big Brother?
J.D. Power and Associates (JDPA), in association with NetBase, conducted a survey in December 2012 in order to answer these questions. While the survey results differ by age group, they reveal a striking level of ambivalence about social listening:
- Surprisingly, 32% of consumers of all ages and 38% of Millennials (18–24-year-olds) have no idea companies are listening to what they say
- Over 40% think listening online intrudes on privacy, even though this is “social” media
- Nevertheless, nearly 50% say companies should listen to improve products and nearly 60% want companies to respond to complaints
On the one hand, many consumers feel that they should be free to talk about brands without the company listening in. On the other hand, just as many know that companies are listening and expect them to respond to both compliments and complaints posted online.
The take-away for CMOs, digital marketers and others responsible for social media strategy is that you need to be telepathic – which you’re not, so the next best plan is to:
- Don’t just listen, understand – first
- Consider the context of updates and conversations
- Engage with the intention of delivering mutual value
- Demonstrate how listening doesn’t intrude but instead builds relationships
Do those things and consumers are much more likely to understand and appreciate the upside of social listening.
ps – The above content was taken almost verbatim directly from the study. You can download the entire study here.