Friday, February 26, 2010

Ever Been Told You Should "Listen" To Social Media? It's Not The Best Advice.

The last night I was in San Diego for the OMS conference I'm sitting with a table full of people and we are tired and burnt out so we are giggling like 6 year olds about how many times we've been told to "listen" as part of a social media plan that day.  The conversation went something like:
"Hey, have you thought about listening to social media?"
"yeah..... that is a good idea!  Or maybe, before that I should listen first!  hahaha!"
It was literally about 20 minutes of pure immaturity which you'll see after a few days packed full of learning and business.
After I left though I was thinking about why that was so damn funny.
Is it because "Listen" is such a simple command that it's hard to imagine giving it out as a plan?
Is it because you can't really audibly "listen" to much on the internet - it's really just reading?
Or is it because it's only half the idea, like telling someone to "get in the car and go"?
I think it's the latter.
With so many people urging us to listen I think it has become a bit oversimplified.  Are we telling marketers to listen to EVERYTHING that's being said about their brand or industry on the internet?
I would amend that instruction to "listen with a serious filter".  You don't have to just turn on your computer and read Twitter or Facebook posts or blogs all day.  It's a waste of time and if you don't know how to filter the information you won't be any wiser after reading all of it.  As you "listen" online, you need to immediately decide which stuff is just noise.  Brands aren't going to be able to work with their community online if they pay attention to all of the noise as well.  Look at it this way - a local grocery store sends out coupons to everyone in the neighborhood and wastes a ton of paper because most of the recipients aren't going to be interested.  With listening online, you could send every person who even remotely mentions groceries at all a coupon.  Better?  Yes, slightly but still wasting a lot of time grabbing those grocery conversations.  Most brands have 1 or maybe 2 people trying to manage their social media and marketing and print and now they are expected to deal with every person online talking about groceries.  What if that grocery store could reward those people who really like their store?  Not people with a grocery blog but people who are genuinely their fans?  Wouldn't that be a better use of their resources?  Sephora thinks so.  They have figured out who goes on their mailing list for coupons (sort of fans) and who are their Beauty VIP people (people who buy every pot of sparkles on the shelf....  me).  They reward them differently and as a result, people like me who used to go there once in a while now are avid fans.  They brought me into their community.
So should you be "listening" online?  Yes you should.  However, you need to listen with a filter for people who can be in your community, not just every person talking about a certain topic.

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Blogger Todd said...

Great post. We were beat over the head with "you can't just jump in" and "step #1: listen". But,more important than just listening is who you listen to and what you get out of it. You shouldn't just listen for the sake of listening, you should listen to see how you can better help your community. Listening can be a really powerful tool to customize and help your customers but you have to been in the "listen for the sake of doing" mindset as opposed to just listening.

February 26, 2010 at 12:02 PM  

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