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Social Listening – How to Manage the Customer’s Voice Online?

May 10, 2021

Customer-to-customer interactions through social media

Inbound and inbound marketing are concerned with company-to-consumer interactions. Social media is a powerful tool that allows people to create and share information and ideas worldwide. Many examples exist that have shown the impact of those types of information and often creative content. 

Customer voice and social listening

So, one of the first difficulties related to the management of the customers’ voice online is to set up systematic listening measures successfully. Customers’ voice raises another challenge for companies, namely the response to comments made online: whether in terms of speed, content to be transmitted, or engagement to be demonstrated. For example, communications that directly mention the username of your brand should generally be quickly processed because internet users who address companies in this way generally want their problem resolved. 

Social listening and issue resolution

The customer listening system includes the analysis of direct messages and mentions of brands or the company’s product names and the mentions of events specific to product categories. So what we have here in the first situation is an issue resolution. In terms of two dimensions, we have the extent of customer listening – or the scope – and we have the interaction goals’ main objectives. So when a user directly messages the company’s account – brand or after-sales service – they often expect a quick, efficient and straightforward resolution of the issue. The interaction then focuses on problem-solving. 

From problem-solving to proactive response strategies

At the second level, it is a matter of examining all conversations that include the names of the company’s brands and products. In this case, Internet users do not address the company directly to solve the problem but will tend to use branded hashtags to improve the visibility of their message. The response strategy to be implemented must then be proactive: the company then must respond to messages posted on the internet spontaneously.

Finally, the approach may also include listening to customer’s voice at events related to the product category or of interest to the company and its products. In this situation, the company must anticipate market trends and the detection of prospects or opportunities. The objective here is to link the brand to potentially positive events for the company. Thus, a company must respond to positive feedback to increase the future engagement of satisfied customers.

What is critical in social listening and effective response strategies?

According to a study conducted by Lithium Technologies in 2013, more than half of Twitter users expect a response to their tweet in less than one hour. However, in an analysis of the response behaviors of large U.S. companies, researchers show that companies respond to only 47 percent of the 5,000 Twitter complaints examined in this study. Moreover, in the event of a response, companies react on average after seven hours; only a quarter of these responses were published within 18 minutes of the internet user’s first tweet. So, in respect of this expectation of less than one hour.

The importance of response speed

In a study with more than 800 respondents, other research has demonstrated the importance of responsiveness in digital environments. The faster the company responds, the more the internet user will consider the company trustworthy and capable of caring about the well-being of its customers. On the other hand, while the slowness of response to negative messages can lead to dissatisfaction, the speed of response seems to be a leading factor because it does not automatically increase Internet users’ satisfaction. It is therefore in the interest of companies to respond quickly to complaints to avoid impatient internet users talking about them to their entourage or looking for other communication channels to share their frustration.

Quick responses to contain the message

The advantage of having a response strategy is twofold. First, complaint management prevents the customer from expressing himself to other individuals via other forms of online word of mouth or from changing companies. Second, it allows the company to protect its reputation and maintain a good image towards future customers, who consult and read content generated by others before making decisions.

Communication style and tone in social media response strategies

In addition to speed, the literature raises and dresses the question of communication style or tone, particularly from whether or not it should be adapted to the specific context or platform. Companies usually have two response options. First, maintain the same tone, regardless of the context- and platform-specific communication codes permits the company to adhere to the brand identity. Or, second, the firm could adapt its language to each environment. What we refer to as Communication Accommodation Theory provides a framework for interpersonal interactions. So, while maintaining institutional communication can strengthen brand consistency across platforms, adjusting and adapting language according to context potentially demonstrates its proximity to customers. For example, researchers show through experimental studies that adjusting the tone of a message according to a person is the preferred strategy to promote customer trust in the brand. It reflects the company’s goodwill and quality of interaction and effort by the internet users.

Social media response strategies and the integration of Artificial Intelligence

The third aspect here is the importance of nowadays chatbots. Remember when I talked about markets are conversations: it’s human tone. So at the same time, it is chatbots or the automation of those interactions that are happening right now to make sure there is 24/7 service. So, chatbots as well are addressing and communicating with Internet users in human-machine interactions. However, even if artificial intelligence is moving at light speed, those interactions can still feel, can still lack understanding. Or can still lead to some frustration from the consumer’s side. But, of course, it is a way as well to assure speed and tone. So overall, it is important to be reactive – quick – and act in proactive ways.


In the comprehensive MAA course “Digital Marketing & Analytics,” you will learn more about social listening and effective response strategies in social media, in addition to many ways how to manage interaction with customers through social media and how to measure social media effectiveness and profits. 

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