LISTEN – A simple, but often overlooked topic

As marketers, we are very focused on “doing”, to create that next award-winning campaign. But without really knowing what people are saying about your brand or understanding what values consumers see in your products/services, it will often lead you back to a one-way dialogue. More importantly, it does not address the real business need.

Below are some common questions which I’ve come across in conversations with clients, esp. those who are new to social media.

Q: Why is social media monitoring more expensive that our news monitoring service?
A: Compare the number of newspapers and magazines to the number of websites, blogs, forums, portals, pages on social networks; it requires much more time and effort to find the relevant info from the sea of data. Machine-generated results can only give you so much info and not insights. At the end of the day, you still need a human to analyze the data and provide you with the right advice to help move your business forward.

Q: What if we find negative comments / people complaining about my products / services? What should I do?
A: What if a customer called your hotline to file a complaint?  What would you do?  You would first understand the problem and then address it.  The reality is that you cannot make everyone happy, but you need to try.  What you can do is prioritize and address those that are most important or have significant impact on your brand’s reputation.

Q: I prefer to allocate money to run a campaign rather than a listening program.
A: You should invest in both, but listening should always come first and become a routine just like your news monitoring.  Listening not only serves as a monitoring tool, it can also provide great insights to brand perception and consumer sentiment (without paying for a focus group or a research house to conduct an audit). Most importantly, it can help you address an issue before it turns into a crisis.

So why do we need to listen?  Because everyone good conversation starts with listening.  And social media is all about good conversations and engagement with real people.