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Does "Listening" Make Sense for Everyone?


Posted by on April 26, 2009

buddha

(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?

  • http://www.davidspinks.com David Spinks

    While research and monitoring is a big part of listening, I don't think listening is limited those things. Many of these technologies are new to businesses and individuals and aren't necessarily intuitive when first using them. Twitter is a perfect example of a service that no one quite “gets” right away. If you just jump into social media and make a few mistakes, I think people will help and forgive you so I agree that listening isn't absolutely necessary as a first step. I do think it is important to spend some time listening though, as you will learn how people communicate and use these tools, giving you a better understanding of how to approach it. (ie. if a company doesn't understand how to use twitter, they might join and just start posting links to deals on their site. If they spend some time reading and listening first, they'll see how twitter should really be used.)

    Dave

    • Jacob Morgan

      hi david,

      i think listening encompasses quite a lot, more than it should probably and that's part of the problem, i think we need more defined stages. some people companies can afford to make mistakes, the problem is that some executives don't understand that so strategists are under a lot of pressure.

      thanks for the comment david

  • Jacob Morgan

    hi david,

    i think listening encompasses quite a lot, more than it should probably and that's part of the problem, i think we need more defined stages. some people companies can afford to make mistakes, the problem is that some executives don't understand that so strategists are under a lot of pressure.

    thanks for the comment david