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For years, marketers relied on focus groups to deliver feedback about new products and campaigns. Effective, sure, but these focus groups didn’t convey the sentiment of a brand’s total audience or give real-time feedback.

Today’s marketers are fortunate in the sense that we have numerous tools at our disposal that enable us to connect with our audience AND hear what they’re saying about our products. Having the right listening tools is only half of the equation … it’s what you do with the feedback you receive that’s the most important. In a Social Media Examiner article, American Express found that 46 percent of US Internet users it surveryed had turned to companies’ social media sites to vent their frustrations about poor experiences.

 

So, how do you manage real-time brand conversations and structure a corporate listening and response team? Here are three simple steps your company should be taking to make sure you’re responding appropriately to your audience:

  1. Outline a response plan: Whether positive or negative feedback, this is your opportunity to gain a customer for life (and better your brand in the process). Create an internal response plan for responding to social media feedback, and empower your employees to take action.
  2. Build a team of “listeners”: Listening is key — make sure you’re monitoring your channels throughout the day in order to catch real-time conversations.
  3. Share customer feedback: Let your brand advocates know you care by having visible conversations on your social channels. Share your takeaways from customer feedback, good or bad.

Now more than ever, customers have a key role in determining the success of your products. By listening to their rants and raves, you can put exceptional customer service in the forefront and build a brand your audience loves. It all starts with listening and responding.