Are You Listening?

Social Media ListeningIn a previous post, we argued the case for an outside-in ‘Customer Led Approach to Social Media’. The first step in being customer led is to listen!

Embedded in this post, you will find a recent Conference Presentation we made on the topic of ‘Social Media Listening’. During the presentation, we asked whether there was something fundamentally wrong with the way in which social media was being used? Are too many organisations using it as just another PR/Marketing channel for broadcasting messages AT rather than engaging WITH customers. Is anyone listening anymore? Our on-going research in this area would suggest not.

Key points made during the presentation were as follows:

  • The rules of the marketing have changed. Social media should be about talking WITH rather than AT your customers. That is why it is called SOCIAL media
  • New organisational ‘mindsets’ are required. Companies need to ‘become social before doing social’. Ask yourself, how social is your own organisation?
  • The basis of a good conversation is to listen first. Online conversations are taking place relevant to your business and brand. Are you listening? Our ‘maker’ gave us two eyes, two ears and one mouse for a reason
  • To avoid being on a ‘Road to Nowhere’ with social media (or worse, a ‘Road to Hell’), your organisation should develop and implement an agreed Social Media Strategy – one that is fully aligned with and supportive of your core business goals and objectives
  • The foundation for a successful Social Media Strategy is to listen first!
  • There are five simple steps to implementing an effective Social Media Listening System:

Step 1: Agree what conversations you need to monitor – about your brand, product, industry, sector, customer segments, geography?

Step 2: Identify where the relevant conversations are taking place online – on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs, Forums, News Sites etc?

Step 3: Agree the tools you will use to monitor these conversations. A wide range of Social Media Monitoring Tools are available ranging from no or low cost tools (Google Alerts, Yahoo Pipes, Social Mention, Topsy, IceRocket, Blogscope, Blogpulse and ViralHeat) to more expensive tools such as Salesforce Radian6, Alterian SM2, Sysomos Heartbeat and Meltwater Buzz. Using a combination of free tools, it is possible to develop a Social Media Listening System customised to the specific needs of your company.

Step 4: Think strategically and develop ‘actionable insights’ from the information gathered.

Step 5: Agree your ‘Response Policy’.

Used effectively, a good Social Media Listening System can deliver a wide range of business benefits including:

  • Improved market knowledge and intelligence
  • Customer insight and understanding – who is saying what relevant to your brand, where online and the sentiments (positive/negative) being expressed
  • Identify networks and ‘key influencers’ with high social media impact
  • A source of ‘content inspiration’ for your own social media channels
  • Reputation management – timely identification of potential reputation issues
  • Improved sales, marketing and New Product Development through listening first
  • Improved Social Media Performance Monitoring (‘buzz’ measurement)

As usual, comment and feedback are very welcome. Is your organisation listening? Does it have a Social Media Monitoring System in place? If not, why not?

Take care. Presentation is below.

Jim, Alan, Vincent

Related Posts


  1. Niall
    November 27, 2011 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Very wise words. Listening is the key. People are very quickly driven away by being talked, or even shouted at, and not listened to. Why do you think the results of your research show so few organisations/businesses doing this when it seems like the sensible thing to do?

  2. Jim Hamill
    December 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Thanks Niall and sorry for the delay in getting back to you – been away recently.

    I think the main reason why so few companies ‘listen’ is down to a ‘mindset’ issue. Traditional marketing and PR encourages us to talk AT our customers rather than talking WITH them. Long held attitudes take time to change.

    Thank you for your interest in our blog.

    Take care

    Jim H

Leave A Comment