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Measure What Matters: Online Tools For Understanding Customers, Social Media, Engagement, and Key Relationships by William T. Paarlberg, Katie Delahaye Paine

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Chapter 6. How to Use Numbers to Get Closer to Your Customers

"Do not get trapped into prior thoughts. It's perfectly okay to change your mind as you learn more."

Dr. Donald A. Redelmeier

While in many ways social media has made all aspects of business more difficult, there is no denying that it has also brought with it enormous benefits in terms of our ability to get feedback from our customers and our marketplace. Before the advent of bulletin boards, wikis, and social networking sites, businesses had to rely on occasional market surveys to understand what their customers were thinking.

Now, listening in on customers' conversations is as easy as setting up a Google alert. With a few keystrokes, you can hear everything that anyone is saying in cyberspace about your brand, your products, and those of the competition. And, assuming you keep track of that feedback in some kind of a structured way, you can also perceive how the market reacts to your statements and actions over time and modify your business strategies appropriately.

To be clear, listening to the marketplace and listening to your specific customers require slightly different techniques, both of which are outlined in greater detail in the following pages.

Listening, Learning, and Responding to the Marketplace

The first and arguably most difficult step in starting to listen to your marketplace is determining a universe to monitor. With some 600 blog posts and 36,500 tweets published every minute, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. ...

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