The Art and Challenge of Listening

As more companies look to embrace social media, one of the biggest questions is “How do we get started?”

The immediate reaction is to create a strategic plan, but perhaps the best and easiest place to start is to simply listen to what’s being said about your company, brand, products, services, industry and rivals.

It’s a great way to discover the amount of activity, the kind of conversations happening, the tone of these conversations, and, as important, whether there is an opportunity jump on the social media bandwagon.

A company may learn there are lots of conversations going on so it makes complete sense to leverage social media. It may learn the competition is using social media well or not that well, which will have a huge impact on the approach a company might take to social media.

The company could discover that no one is talking about their products, competitors or industry, which means there is either a huge window of opportunity, or that doing social media makes no sense because it’s not resonating with target audiences.

The best thing about listening is it doesn’t need to involve a big investment in money or people. Instead, companies can use a variety of tools – some free and some paid – to listen over a period of time so they can decide whether social media makes sense.

After doing a listening “audit”, a company should have enough information and intelligence to figure out next steps. In other words, listening is a pragmatic and cost-effective way of taking a step toward social media as opposed to jumping into the fray only to discover there’s little or no return on investment.

For more thoughts about the value of listening, check out John Jantsch’s post on Duct Tape Marketing.

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