It’s the tail end of 2020 already, and the economy is re-opening even though the COVID-19 pandemic is still at large. However, business recovery does not come without its share of challenges. The good news is that through technology, there are available social listening tools that can help businesses bounce back and hopefully cement a place in their markets.
How COVID-19 affected businesses
Needless to say, various industries took heavy blows when the pandemic hit. According to McKinsey, it could actually take more than five years for the most affected sectors to return to the level of 2019 contributions.
Aside from dealing with a steep decline in demand for some products or services, there are new customer expectations and preferences as well. There are also a lot of operational and logistical concerns that need to be adjusted due to health and safety measures.
For example, one of the hardest-hit industries is the food sector. The McKinsey research shows that almost 40 percent of small businesses in this sector are currently only hitting break-even, if not total losses. Additionally, the shift to food delivery means an increase in operational costs for packaging and transportation.
However, COVID-19 also prompted businesses to invest in digital tools in order to keep moving forward. As a result, the pandemic has accelerated the global growth of digitized customer interactions by an average of three years. During the onslaught of COVID-19, the most successful companies were those who leveraged on digital tools. A survey in 2017 showed that almost half of executives ranked cost savings as an important factor when it came to digital investments. Currently, more than half are now either investing in technology to gain traction or remodeling their businesses around the digital transformation.
With 2021 coming up shortly, and with COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down in some areas, businesses will continue to attempt re-entry in order to avoid completely shutting down. The survival of businesses will depend on how they can use digital tools, specifically social listening tools, to facilitate market reach and revenue share.
What are the benefits of social listening
Social listening is the process of tracking your social media channels for mentions, conversations, and discussions about your brand or industry. It involves using the data to discover opportunities for growth.
This is different from social media monitoring which focuses on metrics like brand mentions, hashtag use, and competitor mentions. Social listening is taking action and looking beyond the data to understand the sentiments of the market. For example, you can have 10,000 mentions in one day, but 8,000 of those may be coming from negative feedback.
Here’s what social listening can contribute to your business:
- Increase engagement with new and existing customers. Social listening can help you build stronger relationships with potential and current clients. How? This includes actively responding to inquiries and mentions on social media and handling issues before they blow up. Additionally, according to Oberlo, 71% of customers who have a positive experience with a company on social media are more likely to recommend your business.
- Manage public relations in times of controversies. With the right social listening tools, you can pinpoint the reasons behind positive and constructive feedback. That way, you can face these head-on. With 3.5 billion social media users, you can already reach a large chunk of the market when you address controversies or promote positive outcomes.
- Establish a more sensitive approach and culture. Social listening allows you to know more about how your target market is doing during these times, so you can schedule your sales or promotions accordingly. For example, during the start of the pandemic, a lot of businesses in the health sector took advantage of the sudden increase in health consciousness. At the same time, financial businesses like credit cards or telco bills decided to waive their bills for a time, resulting in an increase in customer loyalty.
- Get a leg up higher than your competitors. Listening to what others have to say about your competitors can help you gain insights into where you stand. This will also provide you with real feedback and data from your target market and how they react to your competitors’ strategies.
- Discover and generate continuous leads. Social listening tools can also pull in new business opportunities for you because social media platforms are effective for brand awareness. Check this out—according to one Hubspot blog, 50% of consumers say that seeing user-generated content like reviews or videos will most likely increase their chances of buying that product. That’s why a lot of businesses use social media to build their brand and then integrate it with their other channels.
Using social listening tools as you re-enter the economy
Here’s a quick guide on three concrete actions that can help you get off to a good start.
- Expand your listening criteria and specifics. Understand that your target market’s preferences and behaviors have changed as a result of the global crisis. A Forbes article shares that Nina Bradley Clarke, a podcast host and a managing director of a beauty brand, said that staying up to date about what her clients are experiencing right now has helped her strategically position her business. It’s important to adjust your strategy according to the situation of your market. Do they have the luxury of shopping on a regular basis? Will your product or service be beneficial to them given their current status? Intensive social listening will give you the answers to these questions and more.
- Collaborate with industry movers and influencers. With a presence on social media and in the online world, in general, continuing to increase due to online classroom and work from home setups, partnering with influencers can bring a lot of business opportunities for you. According to the Data Marketing Institute, a whopping 70 percent of teenagers, for example, trust influencers more than the usual celebrities.
- Expand your reach by exploring new platforms. Again, due to the change in a lot of setups, you have to expand your marketing channels to make it easier for your target market to find you. If in your social listening you discover that a large part of your market spends a lot of time on Instagram, then you should start establishing your IG presence.
Social listening has radically transformed the way that businesses do market research. It has allowed businesses, big and small alike, to know more about their market’s preferences and behaviors. Investing in social listening and adjusting strategies accordingly will definitely be an integral part of your business recovery. It can very well be the difference between a successful bounce back or simply cutting off your losses.