Without question, the first step in launching a social media program for your business is getting online and listening. You will quickly discover that you can legitimately listen to millions of conversations about every topic under the sun – well, the sun too. The opportunities offered to businesses by social media make me feel the way Romeo (the little black dog) feels when he goes to the dog park.
Think about that for a minute. No matter where he starts, Romeo can identify an interesting scent to follow all over the park. Then he picks up another scent and follows it. Along the way, he stops to meet new canines in the neighborhood and to enjoy playing with old friends. He would be very happy there all day.
What we can learn by just listening in on social media sites is amazing! For people like us (the team at Little Black Dog Social Media), social media sites offer endless entertainment and an infusion of insight into markets and ideas. Without those insights, we would be far less effective at what we do.
Some of the insights and information we gather by listening include:
What people are saying about
- our business
- our clients’ businesses
- our clients’ competitors (and ours)
- particular industries
- specific locations
What our competitors are doing regarding
- new product/service development
- customer engagement
- business strategy
How other companies handle
- customer service
- customer retention
- lead generation
- crisis management
- market research
The list could go on and on; but, you get the point. The wealth of information available via social media is constantly amazing.
Yet, if social media offers the opportunity to listen to our customers and prospects, as well as our competitors, why is listening played down by most companies? Indeed, why is it typically treated as a secondary activity by some of the leading social media companies and thought leaders?
As to why social listening is overlooked by businesses, the answer seems simple: it takes too much time. Few businesses – especially small businesses – can afford to pay someone to monitor conversations on social media all day.
As for the social media services community, we are dumbfounded by the number of customer engagement charts and social media marketing charts, as well as the articles and white papers that either ignore listening or seem to add it as an afterthought. Many of these companies put listening last – after you engage the customer.
If, instead, you turn those models around and spend time listening first, you know what people are saying. You also know the tone of their conversations and the vocabulary they are using. You have at least some insight into their needs and pains. How can you engage people in a meaningful conversation without that basic insight? We don’t think it is possible.
If you have any curiosity about how Romeo (the Little Black Dog) feels at the dog park – or how we feel about social listening – we encourage you to do some listening, too. You might be surprised by what you will learn. If you are too busy running your business, give us a call. We do the listening for our clients.
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