Social Marketing Starts With Listening (Forbes)

A colleague asked me the other day: “What do you say when clients tell you they don’t have time to listen to social media conversation?” 

It’s a good question.

But it’s one I’d answer with a “why wouldn’t you want to listen?” 

After all, a lot of time, money and effort is dedicated to trying to figure out exactly what customers want. Companies spend millions of dollars in customer research to influence product formulations, tweak service offerings and get a leg up on competitors. 

Social media offers an inexpensive, quick way of gathering marketing insight. You can keep tabs on customer needs, wants and concerns. You can get an intimate view of how competitors are connecting with customers. And you can check out the influencers who give your brand a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down.” 

Perhaps more important is the key reason to listen: Social media is a conversation. It’s not a presentation. It’s not a broadcast channel. Why? Because there’s never been a medium that so easily and quickly allows your intended audience to tune you out … if you make it all about you. 

Before you engage in social media, you should listen. Check out the social media channels where your industry is being discussed. Learn the vernacular: You may call it the “KR9M945-2E55,” but your customers and prospects call it just “the turbo.” Additionally, you may think that the most important venue is your favorite one to engage, but after you listen, you learn that no substantial conversations are occurring there. 

It’s just like a conversation that you have in any other venue. You don’t immediately walk into the room and start screaming your message. You don’t go on and on about yourself the whole time without finding out what’s important to your friends, colleagues or family members. It’s listening and engaging that make these social situations rewarding.

Listening is a skill we learned at an early age. And it’s a skill we should embrace in the corporate world when engaging in social media (engaging being the operative word). 

Read the original article at Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/sites/gyro/2011/08/25/social-marketing-starts-with-listening/

 

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