In terms of successfully running a business, one of the most important assets that you have available to you is and will always be the opinion of others.
From the moment your business becomes more than “just a dream you had in your garage one morning” to a living, breathing thing, opinions will be all around you. Your friends and family members will have them. Your employees will have them. The rest of your management staff will have them. It is your job to listen to all of them.
But ironically, the one opinion that is both A) the loudest, and B) the most often ignored is also the one that matters most of all: that of your audience.
Make no mistake: from the moment they become aware of your brand and what it is you do, your audience will begin a conversation that will essentially play out in real-time. They’re opinions, they’re preferences, they’re reaction – all of this matters a great deal for your long-term goals.
Your audience is very much speaking with you. It’s time to start listening to them for a number of compelling reasons.
The Communication Chamber of Social Media
A number of recent studies have been conducted that show people aren’t just having conversations about your brand, your products or your services on the Internet. They actively want you to play a larger role in these conversations, too.
Consider the following statistics:
1) Nearly 1/3rd of millennials say that social media is one of their preferred ways for communicating with a business.
2) The average social media user has about five accounts with different sites, meaning that one loyal follower (or dissatisfied customer) could be having a lot of different conversations about your brand in a lot of different places.
3) According to one study, social media plays almost as big a role in the purchasing decisions of consumers as television.
4) Another study found that a failure to respond to customers via social media channels can lead to a massive 15% churn rate increase for existing customers.
So what does all this tell us? First, social media continues to be one of the dominant forms of communication on the planet, particularly when it comes to the way customers connect with businesses and vice versa.
People are already having conversations about your brand, your products and services on social media – and they want you to start paying attention, too. They have opinions and they want to make sure that you’re hearing them. When they’re NOT sure, it could actually affect your long-term relationship with those people in an appreciable (and decidedly negative) way.
Increasing the Value of the Conversation
Even if paying attention to the conversations that your users are having on social media wasn’t valuable in that it is the “right thing to do,” it’s a decision that will also bring with it a wide range of different benefits almost immediately.
Remember that according to HubSpot, visual content is 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than just about any other type of content. Do you have an excellent presentation you’ve just created with a tool like Visme (which, full disclosure, I am a founder of) that you want to make sure is perfect for your target audience? Put it up on Facebook or Twitter and find out.
While it’s true that 100% of your audience isn’t going to see a piece of marketing collateral like a presentation in this way, a good chunk of them likely will. Put that presentation online and see what the reaction is.
See what types of comments you get or questions that are asked. Use all of this constructive feedback to make last minute adjustments before you roll that content out to a larger audience, allowing you the rare opportunity to actually make two first impressions instead of one.
Maybe people are telling you that your presentation is too long and some judicious editing is in order. Maybe they tell you that a nice background could really spruce things up. Regardless of what suggestions you get, consider them carefully to make things even better.
Even going beyond this opportunity for a kind of instant feedback/course correction opportunity, bringing your audience into the conversation and showing that you’re willing to listen has even MORE benefits.
A) According to Ambassador, 71% of consumers who said that they had a good social media service experience with a brand were likely to recommend that brand to others.
B) Likewise, people in that “sweet spot” age range of 18 to 34 are the most likely to follow your brand on social media – to the tune of about 95% when compared to other groups.
So if you play your cards right, you’ve got an opportunity to get young people in particular emotionally invested in your brand in a way that makes them more likely to share their love of your company with others. Do you really want to pass that up?
In the End
Your business may have been started in a vacuum, but it certainly can’t start that way – especially once you reach the point where you’re trying to grow and evolve from “what you currently are” to “what you always hoped you would one day become.”
While it’s true that you need to surround yourself with the right people who will provide expertise, insight and opinion during this time, it’s equally important not to ignore the one voice that matters most of all: that of your audience.
These days, feedback is immediate – if you know where to look for it. If you make a wrong move, rest assured that people are more than willing to take to Facebook or Twitter and tell you about it. If there’s a problem with your product, if you’re doing a great job, if there is a feature that people would like to see in terms of your product or service – this information is at your fingertips.
You would be doing yourself, your business and your customers a disservice if you chose not to listen to them.
Have you read?
Successful startups: Important qualities that will get you to year five by Payman Taei.
11 Startup Mistakes Every Entrepreneur Makes and How to Avoid Them by Shane Barker.
The Strategy of Executing Strategy by Jyoti Kainth.
Top Quick Wins to Boost Your Morning by Tom Jager.