Using Social Media For Competitive Advantage

Social listening is quickly becoming a vital tool for marketers looking for valuable insights about their customers, products, and services. A recent McKinsey article highlighted the importance of monitoring ‘weak signals’, described as the little snippets of potentially crucially information that may normally get lost in social media streams. These ‘weak signals’ can provide valuable insights to help companies gain and maintain competitive advantage. The article mentions some key principles companies can use to make the most out of social listening and social signals.

Firstly, it is important that those at the top of an organisation are engaging with and responding to what is being said on social media. The major benefit of social listening is that it is happening in real time, and closely monitoring these conversations means you can begin to act on the insights almost instantaneously. Competitive advantage can then be gained by being the most reactive to social signals, making sure you use the insights before a competitor does.

Secondly, having the right people taking care of social listening is also key. It is perhaps obvious, but in order to be as reactive as possible, you need to be closely monitoring different social channels at all times. In addition to this, those tasked with monitoring social signals need to have an in-depth knowledge of both social media and the business in order to find the most valuable bits of information that could form the basis of strategic action.

Finally, social listening should be cross-functional. That is, the insights gathered should be used by all departments to maximise its impact. For example, information on how customers are using a product or service could be used by the Product Development, Marketing or Sales departments in different but equally valuable ways. Using the insights effectively is all about communicating them to the right people as quickly as possible, and therefore every department should be closely involved with the social listening process.

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