Listening is Never Enough

Listen, learn and then take action.

It is often said that if you do only one thing in social media – it should be listening.

In other words, monitor the web and social media channels for conversations about your brand, your product and the issues and news that are important to your company.

Coincidentally, Todd Defren, PR blogger extraordinaire, wrote a post about this very topic today.  Todd wrote that monitoring tells marketers where to put their resources and where to stop putting their resources.

Fair point.

But monitoring social media channels is never enough.  In fact, once brands start to listen they realize that they really don’t have the option of being wallflowers anymore.  I’ve run into this problem repeatedly.  When brands start to listen – to discover all of the threads of conversations about them online – they come to three realizations rather quickly:

  • They no longer control the conversations and perceptions about their brand
  • That there are a surprising number of advocates and “badvocates” leading the brand discussions
  • That it is extremely difficult to listen to conversations about your brand and not to join in

Listening is smart.  It provides valuable intelligence.  But ultimately you want to use the information you discover to take action.  And the best action on social media channels is participation.

So monitoring is really only half a strategy (granted – the first half).  Monitoring will allow a brand to benchmark their position.  It provides the foundation for a social media framework.

To really benefit from social media, a brand needs to follow listening with execution.

While you can’t control all the conversations about your brand – you can participate and help shape your reputation and the perceptions about you.  But to participate you need social media assets.  You need content and platforms.  You need to figure out how to tap into the advocates and use their passion for your brand.  You need to listen to why the badovates are complaining about your brand.  What can you do to correct it?  How can you turn the badvocates around?

Listening is good, but participation is even better.


Todd Defren’s post “If You Only Do One Thing in Social Media”

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4 Responses to “Listening is Never Enough”

  1. George,
    True and to me, monitoring leaves the marketers outside, like an observer, a spy ;-). Participation puts the marketers inside, where opinions are shaped and experiences shared. The difficulty I see out there is that marketers are monitoring ‘everything said about my brand/product and so on’ and are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of it and the noise. Participation is almost impossible then so they prefer setting up fb/twitter and follow a ‘come to me’ strategy. But that’s not enough. Participation requires to identify the ‘who matters’ for your brand and focus on them first because they’re the hubspot of the network where a brands audience gravitates.

  2. Listening + Strategic Participation is indeed a winning formula. Brands can no longer sit back and allow themselves to remain as mere social mannequins but rather must actively participate in the conversations taking place. The rewards are numerous.

  3. Great insights, Laurent.

    Hi Jose:
    There are rewards, but also dangers. Brands need to be aware and plan for both.

  4. George, I agree. Awareness and planning are indeed important.

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