Gathering consumer feedback in order to target the needs of your customers is a crucial element of running any successful business. And, while offering the best services and products will always be important, cultivating a dedicated set of customers ensures that you can count on repeat sales. Here are some interesting statistics:

More than 57 percent of Internet users admit to looking themselves up on Google or another search engine. Meanwhile, 70 percent of adults have searched for information about others. Forty-four percent of online adults have searched about professional services. Approximately 71 percent of savvy social media users in the 18-29 age group have adjusted their privacy settings to limit what information is available online.

These same consumers are determining the success or failure of your online reputation management efforts.

Optimizing a company’s current online identity requires positive interactions with your audience. Prospective customers consistently seek out information on Yelp, Citysearch, Zagat and any number of review sites. Therefore, online reputation management is a vital tool in the success of your business.

Since the advent of social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook, it has become more convenient for business managers to truly connect with customers while discovering valuable information about their purchasing habits. In turn, this has resulted in the emergence of social media listening. Social media listening is the act of observing an individual, business, product or service on the Internet. Social media listening can be used by you and your business to improve trust, loyalty and most importantly, sales.

Before the emergence of these communications tools, companies were limited when trying to determine how customers felt about specific services or products – or their brand as a whole. Now, something as simple as a comment on Facebook, a Twitter reply or a review-site rating can relay a treasure trove of information in a matter of seconds. If your business has just launched a new service or product, social media listening is an intelligent way of determining customer reaction.

Social media has created the opportunity for people to showcase their opinions to a worldwide audience. Consumers can relate their pleasure or frustration at just a moment’s notice. This content can be extremely valuable for all businesses in terms of fully understanding both current and prospective customers. Use these tools to make an early assessment about what works and what doesn’t. The data available at your fingertips can help you figure out what their overall experience might be. If you intend on remaining in business for a long time, observing communication on social media is a necessity.

Fully understanding the specific strengths and weaknesses of your business can result in increased website traffic, fans and followers and social shares. Listening to your audience will help your communications staff write relevant content.

At 3Ci, we encourage our clients to use their voice and stay connected to the audience through social media. By establishing positive relationships with your current and future customers from the outset, you can mitigate the presence of any negative mentions about you or your business online. Otherwise, embarrassing and inaccurate results could compromise your online reputation, as well as your sales revenue and customer retention. Call us if you find that your digital presence is not what it needs to be.