Monday, November 16, 2009

Companies Identify Major Business Benefits in Listening to Online Conversation

As control of a company’s marketing messages -- and, indeed, its very brand image -- continues to migrate from traditional media to social media, companies need to pay close attention to how they're being perceived in online conversations. They also need to take appropriate action, based on the insights they glean.

That’s precisely what a growing number of companies are doing, according to a new benchmark report published by the Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. In fact, the research found that, despite the substantial cutbacks that most companies have been forced to make in light of the global economic recession, 50% of all companies are increasing their investment level in social media monitoring initiatives. The research also found that the insights derived from social media monitoring and analysis can benefit multiple parts of the organization, including marketing, sales, public relations, customer service, market research and product management.

Aberdeen research reveals a number of striking performance disparities between Best-in-Class, Industry Average and Laggard companies. For example, Best-in-Class organizations are 2.6-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 93-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to generate consumer insights that drive new product/service development. They are also 3.3-times more likely than Industry Average companies, and 82-times more likely than Laggards, to improve their ability to identify and reduce risk to the brand. Best-in-Class organizations also outperformed Laggards when it comes to improving customer advocacy and decreasing customer service costs.

In addition to deploying the right set of enabling technologies, success in social media monitoring requires a combination of strategic actions and organizational capabilities. To that point, Best-in-Class companies are 42% more likely than Laggards to have a process for disseminating insights gleaned from consumer-generated content to key decision-makers and also twice as likely to have a process for applying the insights in the context of specific needs. Best-in-Class companies are 1.9-times more likely than Laggards to have dedicated operations resources devoted to social media monitoring, analysis and reporting.

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