Many companies use social media to cull customer feedback today, but is your approach working effectively? Did you get more “likes” on your question than actual answers? If so, you’re not alone. We may not know the power of a “like,” but so many of us are out to get more of them that we overlook the information that would be much more beneficial. When you ask for feedback and get a “like,” you aren’t really learning anything.

How can companies turn social media into a feedback-rich environment? It’s all about the set up. How you ask your questions matters at least as much as what you ask.

Diversify Your Methods

Asking for feedback on social media is a good way to get a sense of what some customers want, but if you really want to advance your company, you need to reach a broader audience. In order to do this, you’ll need to employ multiple feedback methods.

Keep asking questions on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t be afraid to test out full-length surveys or SMS-based info tools. The fact is, even though we’re a very social media-oriented population today, the majority of US adults prefer to use SMS for communication. Take advantage of that fact. Unless you have an awfully narrow audience, you’ll need to seek people out where they live, or at least where they socialize, and that means using more than just Facebook.

Consider Your Questions

Where you ask your questions matters, but what about how you ask them – the precise language you use? How you phrase your questions plays an enormous role in how and whether people answer them, so spend some time formulating and testing questions.

Look at sample surveys to get a sense of how other people ask questions and consider whether or not you want to ask open-ended, multiple choice, or scaled questions. There are dozens of ways to ask a given question, but they don’t all work equally well.

Don’t forget that customers consider open-ended questions as something to put off for when they have more time. For this reason, consider using survey creation tools available on Facebook, Twitter, and through sites like SurveyMonkey to encourage people to engage. These may not offer the depth of information you’d like, but some information is better than none at all.

Aggregate – Then Disaggregate

As you ask questions, pay attention to how the data from all the different sources come together. Look for key words and conversations across platforms and compare them to what customers are saying on single platforms. This gives you insight into your particular demographics, what drives email survey users versus Twitter users. This kind of information is just as valuable as knowing what drives c-suite professionals versus new startup owners, even if it seems comparatively trivial. It will direct your marketing.

All the information you’re tracking regarding customers’ social activity should be aggregated in your CRM system, like that offered by SAP. A good CRM program offers deep customer insights, resolves issues early in the sales process, and enhances your sales focus. Without context, your data lacks value. Put it to work.

Ultimately, you need to be engaged in high-value behaviors if you want to have the necessary data to drive your business forward, but you also need to be using smart software to break down that data. It’s all about collection and division, seeing what’s happening beneath the surface. That means focusing on pulling information you can use out of your data so that you can drive smart future decisions. If your software is doing its job, you can do yours.

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