(Buddha in a cave, on the way to say the world’s largest Buddha, Lei Shan- China)
Oftentimes you’ll hear social media folks talk about the importance of listening before getting involved in social media. I was thinking about this a little bit and I don’t think listening applies to everyone, or at least as a first step. In fact I think “listening” is an extremely broad term that essentially means “research before you act.” I didn’t “listen” before I joined social media and I know a lot of other people and small businesses didn’t’ as well.
Let’s quickly define what “listening” means. Listening basically means doing a bit of monitoring and research to see who is talking about you, you’re brand, or your product before you get involved in social media. This might mean using something like google alerts or twitter search to find relevant discussions or if you’re a large brand, it can mean using a tool such as radian 6 or techrigy to get some more detailed info about relevant conversations happening online.
Does listening make sense for everyone? Like I said I didn’t listen to anything or anyone before I joined the social media space. In fact the first thing I did do was “join” the social media space and only then did I begin scouting out people, sites, and conversations. For a large brand such as Dell or IBM I definitely think that listening should be a first step; afterall there are already plenty of conversations going on about those brands. However, if you are a small business or an individual I don’t think listening makes too much sense as an actual separate first step for engaging in social media. As a small business or individual you don’t really have the luxury of listening; you need action.
I think listening and engaging can be done in parallel, and in fact I encourage that it be done this way. This doesn’t mean skipping over a bit of homework and reading up on a few tips/social media best practices. This means joining various social media platforms and engaging with people from day 1 and listening while you do so.
Is this the right way or the wrong way? I don’t know, but it certainly is a “way” to get things done I think for individuals and small businesses in can be quite effecient and effective. What are your thoughts? Does listening make sense for everyone?