No I am not talking about the weird person hides in the bushes. I am talking about the person who monitors conversation boards, review sites, blogs, and the many other social media channels where people are talking about a product of interest.
Yes I am aware that the subject has been covered countless times by individuals who are “qualified experts”; however, I think my personal experience with this strategy will provide a unique point of view, because in this instance I was not the person who was doing the observing. Instead, I was the one who was being observed. Didn’t see that coming did ya?
The goal of this piece is for you, the reader, to take a journey with me through the eyes of the consumers that you are stalking.
I’m talking to you too Mr. Skeptical Marketer. I know this task is time consuming, but I hope I can shed some light on just how valuable it can be.
Now I am going to digress a little and give a short background story that will lead into the personal experience I had with this strategy.
Whenever I write a review about a business on Yelp, I rarely ever avoid writing about any noticeable flaws or nuances at the particular restaurant, bar, or store that I happen to be scrutinizing. The more detailed my reviews are, the more credibility I have in the eyes of those in the Yelp community. The same goes for any other social media website, whether it be site dedicated to blogging, social news, user reviews, etc.
When I lived in Dunwoody I frequently visited this one particular tavern because it was close to my house, and some of my buddies tended to hang out there on a regular basis. Despite usually enjoying the nights I had spent at the tavern, for the most part, I really hated the patio area because of the seating arrangements. The patio was set up with three or four picnic tables that appeared as though they had been stolen from a public park, because of the decayed wood and tacky graffiti written all over them.
So of course I addressed my contempt for the picnic tables in my review on Yelp. I also made it clear in the review that despite some of the good times I had at the place, I probably would not go back, considering I had recently moved away from the area around the time I wrote the review.
I was amazed when not even one day had gone by, and the owner of the tavern contacted me through Yelp and informed me that he had recently replaced the picnic tables with “appropriate patio furniture.” He even posted a few pictures of the tavern’s new patio setup on his business’ Yelp profile.
Because the owner took the time to reach out to me, he made me feel like my opinion actually mattered. He showed me empathy and a genuine concern for what I thought about his business.
As a result, I went out of my to not only raise my rating of the tavern one star, but I also retracted my comments about the tacky patio furniture. I even made a special trip out to my old stomping grounds later that week to check out the changes.
The owner of the tavern not only won back one of his customer’s beer indulging patronage, but he also managed to change the opinion of an individual who is highly influential to their peers in this particular social media community.
We could all learn something from the tavern owner.
He simply conducted his own marketing research, which by the way cost him nothing but time, and took a chance in messaging some random guy who thought the picnic table patio furniture sucked.
I am willing to bet that this tavern owner is totally unaware that there are hundreds of marketing professionals in the world who spend all day trying to figure out how to how to accomplish what he did. Face it. All the guy had to do was use his common sense, and address a negative perception about his tavern, in hopes that it would correct the problem.
Kind of makes the whole process seem less difficult, right?
So back to why I love Peeping Tom’s like this guy.
Come on, it’s not that hard to like a person or company that reaches out to you and values your opinion.
CONCLUSION…….Listening to what someone has to say is never going to put you in a losing situation. You are really going to win them over if you give them feedback about their opinion, empathize with them, and attempt to resolve the issue or correct the situation.
I’m talking to all of the owners, managers, and marketers out there when I say this: Quit being passive. Get out there and give some attention to those movers and shakers in all of the social media communities. Listen to what they say. Address their concerns directly. Make them feel important.
Like I said before, this can be done through a number of different online communities or social media channels.
If you ever happen to find yourself in a situation where the reputation of your company or brand has been severely damaged by individuals with sinister ulterior motives (e.g., former employees,) then you will probably have to take a different approach to handling the negative publicity. Jeff Quipp wrote an excellent article in SearchEnginePeople.com that details where and how you can bury those negative posts that cannot be removed or resolved.