The Art of Social listenin

The future of solid
customer relationships..

Hands up who has a love-hate relationship with social media? Not enough likes on a page? Nobody really following what you’re posting? Competitors grinning with yet another satisfied customer?

Not only do you have to run your own business and worry about online portals undercutting, but now you’ve got to join the internet parade by taking a thousand selfies before 8am and post pictures of beautifully laid out products to every known platform out there, and who’s actually liking this stuff anyway? It’s enough to make you chuck your phone in the bin.

If this resonates, even slightly, then quiver with rage no more because help is at hand from Maybe* - a global conversational commerce platform that is based in the Cotswolds.

If you’ve not heard of them yet that’s probably because they spend the majority of their time promoting other companies and, alongside good old-fashioned face-to-face contact, social listening platforms like Maybe* are the future of customer understanding and relationship building, particularly for local independent stores.

Maybe* was created by Polly Barnfield OBE (who received her honour for the development of the platform Give as you Live, which raised close to £10m for charities) and she says of Maybe*: “Social media is growing every day, in the last 14 years we have amassed 3.1 billion social media users, so Maybe* was born because I could see a need for retailers to embrace the new wave of customer that is heavily attached to social media platforms.

"Millennials, for example, use retail space in a completely different way to other shoppers. They would never leave the house without their phone because they’ve always had one, so I thought why not incorporate that into shopping, why not find out what they really want by using the platforms they tap into so that both customer and retailer wins?”

We confess when we read about Maybe*, here at Retail Rocks magazine, we couldn’t see how this level of social listening could apply to independents, so Polly steered us in the direction of Keith Scarrott shoes and its owner Sophie Scarrott who told us how

working with Maybe* had resulted in the following stats:

Black Friday to Cyber Monday compared to the same period

from 2017:

- Total sales across all channels up 994%

- Total orders up 592%

- Average order value up 35%

- Online store sessions up 209%

"The best bit is that it’s mainly new business not existing customers." says Sophie, "That’s what excites me."

Additionally posts on social media, about a forthcoming Keith Scarrott sale, led to the first queue around the block since it opened in 1975 and new products were created for a market that Sophie didn’t know existed until she used the platform. (See more about Keith Scarrott in the next article).

“There can be some misunderstanding about what social listening is” says Polly. “It’s not just monitoring likes or engagements on posts - it’s about looking at every social media platform in a number of ways so that this can be placed in a retailer’s marketing or product development strategy.

"For example, the beauty of digital is that it’s so much easier to gauge how people are reacting when they see adverts online, in comparison to traditional print methods where you are reliant on guess work most of the time or whether it’s been placed in the right publication or the advert format is appealing.

“Here we can use analytical tools to know exactly what will work. We’ve not only used social listening to create effective adverts, we’ve also used it to see what potential customers think about products being developed and as a result those new products can be created to fill a needed gap in the market or can be tweaked to become more customer-friendly.

"There are many ways to use social listening effectively, for every level of business from small traders right up to entire cities.”

The Maybe* platform has such sophisticated AI software that it takes nanoseconds to collate customer information via a chatbot in Messenger which Polly and her team found gets a much better result than any other way of surveying as it’s quick and user-friendly.

This was obvious with the recent opening of well-known chain Urban Outfitters in Cheltenham. By using the Maybe* platform, they had a queue of over 500 people as a result of a targeted Facebook post that had over 4,000 reactions, comments, and shares.

A unique Messenger scan code was created that shoppers could use whilst waiting in line, to deliver a fun experience, and at the same time collected contact information and tracked attendance. A bespoke chatbot also added over 1,500 contacts to a Messenger list and over 400 new email addresses. Event feedback could then can be shared over social media so that Urban Outfitters continued the relationship with their customers after they’d left the shop.

Maybe* is now recognised as a valuable tool not just in the UK but also globally. A few weeks ago Polly and her colleague Nigel Jobson (former Head of Group Property at Superdry) were asked to attend MAPIC, the global retail conference, to present results of a survey that took the views of over 45,000 people across the world to see how they felt about retail - shopping centres in particular. The team at Maybe* was able to filter the results and give feedback to the biggest names in retail about how people use social media to shop. From that presentation alone Polly had over 50 immediate requests from large retail corporations who potentially wanted to sign up to the system.

Here are just a few of the survey findings:

  • when in a shop looking to buy something, 59% of shoppers pull out their phones to look up product info or reviews;
  • in the UK, 30% of digital advertising will be spent on social media channels equalling £15.42 bn by 2020. This is more than is spent on TV however it’s not being used properly because:
  • brands send 23 promotional messages for every one response given to their audience however 77% of social media users felt more positive about a brand when their post has been replied to.

“Social media is a conversational channel and everyone is a publisher with opinions and options” says Polly, “So joining the conversation in the right way at the right time is imperative”.

For businesses with limited budgets, but a need to increase customer awareness and engagement, the great news is that social listening can be accessible to everyone, you can sign up for free and listen to what’s being said about retail, then for around £45 a month you can get more detailed, focused information about your own business and its specific needs.

Retailers in the Cotswolds have the advantage of a beautiful location, people would happily take the trip just to buy a pint of milk here, but as retail is a highly competitive industry platforms like Maybe* and a ton of social media experts like SocialB, Pineapple White and Social Honeycomb available it’s time to embrace online exposure in a clear, planned way that suits your business so that selfies don’t take over your life and the internet becomes your best promotional friend.

If you would like to collect the data from the Maybe* global survey
(and take it yourself to see how the chatbot works)

click here