Are You Listening?

By: Jon Fisher  @jonnfisher

I can count the number of good listeners I know on one hand. I know a lot of great talkers and conversationalists. But people who will listen and ask questions without their own agenda are truly hard to find. Sadly, it’s a trait that is no longer valued.

Just look at college for example. Constantly, students are being told to perfect their elevator pitch and to always be prepared to tell their personal story. While this is great for acing a job interview, it does not teach students one of the most important parts of relational success. And even when we do stop talking and take the time to listen, we often fail to hear what the other person is saying. Steven Covey, a well-known American author and speaker, states that “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” From personal experience and recognizing my own faults, I’d have to say this is true.

Being a good listener is not only key to building deeper relationships, but also exposes us to new ideas, perspectives, and subjects we know less about. A common attribute of highly intelligent people is their willingness to ask questions. Look no further than Socrates and Albert Einstein, who are recognized as two of the brightest minds in history. Einstein claimed that he had “no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

This curiosity and willingness to listen is especially important for brands in regards to their approach to social media. In order to build a successful social media strategy, a four part blueprint should be followed:

  1. Strategy – analyze customers, competitors, collaborators, and your company
  2. Plan – prepare your content, campaigns, and the platforms you will use
  3. Programs – create profiles, response management, community building
  4. Measurement – track mentions, followers, engagement, response rate

This is referred to as the social analytics cycle. Within the blueprint for social success, measurement is essential as it shows the brand what is working with its target audience and what isn’t. In this step, a brand should be asking three questions. First, what are my best channels? Second, what are my best and worst posts in each channel? And lastly, which content resonates best with my followers? This kind of social listening is how brands obtain social intelligence. In other words, it’s where brands find actionable insights to make impactful decisions for their business.

Social listening is what causes Taco Bell to introduce a taco with a fried chicken shell or Hidden Valley to come out with Buffalo ranch dressing. On top of this, it’s what assures them that these moves will be game changers. If Chipotle can find a way to be “killing it on Instagram” (credit to our guest speaker James Brown, not the pop singer) with burritos, any brand can have a successful social media presence. It just takes being willing to ask questions and listening to what your social media is telling you.

Like the old adage says: talk less, listen more. And you might just learn something.

This Article Has 3 Comments
  1. Jeff Lockie says:

    The world will always be in the need for more listeners no matter what. Listening is one of the most essential, yet hardest skills any great leader can have. Leaders who listen to the people around them are always the most successful, and as you stated, help brands as well.

    But, my question with listening to consumers has always been this, when do you stop listening and start ‘telling’ consumers what they want? What I mean is that if Apple always constantly asked consumers what they wanted, they would have never released the iPhone, as consumers never knew it was even possible (i.e. how can consumers want something they do not know can exist). If Nike and other leading apparel brands always asked consumers what they wanted to wear, how could they be on the front end of creating new trends and directions?

    I agree, listening is a required skill for brands, but the question still remains…to what extent should brands listen? And to what extent to they rely on their own innovation and creativity to shape consumer demands?

  2. Kristin Peixotto says:

    Great Post! I would agree that people often undervalue what good listeners bring to the table. Listening is especially important for companies. Most companies want to talk at you and have their own way of doing things. By listening it sets the company apart from the pack. For example, some airlines are responding to negative customer experiences and using it to enhance customer service.

    However, I do agree that you can’t please everyone. But listening to your audience can be a great form of product research on things to improve or new uses for products.

  3. Mahina Husain says:

    Learned about social media and got a couple life lessons. Good job! I agree that people these days are slacking in the listening department. There are too many people with their heads, hearts and ears in their phones to know what is happening in the world around them. At the same time, it is because of social media usage that we have this problem. So I guess props to the marketing departments because you are doing your job. The importance of companies to listen to listen to their consumers is higher than ever. Airlines, restaurants, grocery stores are all at risk of being cast in a negative light because of something posted online. It is important that they take the feedback and do something about it.

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