In a recent post on “Blazing Your Social Media Engagement Path”, I touched on the value of listening to your target consumers. Their words can bring tremendous insight to your organization about their needs and frustrations around managing their health and the health of loved ones, young and old.
Start Thinking about the Value of Listening Online
Consumers are talking in discussion forums, on Facebook, through tweets and blogs. They have the power to impact their social network while sharing their thoughts, experiences and ideas. To tap into this insight and influence, companies are using an online listening platform which gathers, filters and reports on these consumer conversations. Companies are acting on this new information strategically and tactically through their product, program, marketing and customer service groups.
In addition to these very public venues, companies are investing in private online communities and inviting consumers to share their health experiences using words, photos and videos. Not all online community platforms are the same. There are only a few platforms that enable the consumers to brainstorm, vote and prioritize ideas for new products, services and programs. Companies are leveraging this cost effective online research space by describing new concepts, presenting product screen shots and prototypes and even mocked up marketing materials to ensure that their offering is properly positioned and messaged. And they are getting this input and feedback within hours instead of days for immediate response to meet market needs.
Although businesses are often tempted to get started and figure it out from there, they can significantly benefit from beginning with an online listening plan which can be refined every step of the way. Once their goals are identified, it is easier to evaluate public and private online venues, potential technology platforms, determine resource requirements and define success metrics and measurements.
Online Listening Goals
Part of the planning process entails understanding best practices. While defining your online listening plan, consider these ‘use case’ goals:
- Increase Consumer/Patient Satisfaction. Listen to the words and the tone that these consumers are using. What are they complaining about? Is there a misunderstanding that you can clarify? Are they having difficulty finding resources that you already offer? Can their stories be shared internally for training purposes?
- Improve Consumer/Patient Education. People are actively discussing their health issues online. Many industry experts recognize the anxiety that they feel trying to understand their health problems or interpret their options. Which health issues cause the most confusion, concern and cost? Which patients are having the most “risky” problems (e.g. medications, treatments)? What are their biggest challenges? Are there more effective treatments, less costly options that consumers need to consider?
- Co-Create with Consumers through an Online Advisory Board to Design Offerings for Engagement
- Enhance Online Products. Within a private online community, your target customers can provide input and feedback on your proposed offerings. Which features are “need to haves” versus “nice to haves”? How can you identify and define the functionality that is missing such as mobile? Within the context of their life, how can your product be enhanced to help them maintain control over their health?
- Develop and Market Compelling Programs. The online private community can also be leveraged to “capture the words” of your target audience, shaping both your program design and the marketing of that program. How are these consumers articulating the value they see in the program? What changes would they make if they were creating the program?
Benefits of Listening Extends Throughout your Company
As you devise your own list social media goals, think about which departments within your company will benefit. One best practice is to assemble a cross- functional team to participate in the planning and realize the gains of your online listening efforts.
It all begins with the first step of listening. Engaging consumers is the next step.