Fully aware it’s ironic to blog about listening - here I am, “talking” about “listening.” Still, it seems a worthy topic right now - the value of the oft-neglected art of closing your mouth and opening your ears.
As your role grows in scale and influence, so too must your ability to listen. But listening is one of the toughest skills to master — and requires uncovering deeper barriers within oneself.
The role of a "chief listener" evokes images of fuzzy sweaters, chamomile tea and sitting around with a patient ear. Instead, try sifting through unstructured data and building complex queries.
In 2009 Katie O'Brien was looking for an agency partner to help her launch a major digital effort. The global digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry's issued a brief to a traditional digital shop and a traditional PR agency, Edelman. The plans they brought back were, in Ms. O'Brien's own words, "night and day." The biggest difference, she said, was that one understood social media better than the other -- and it wasn't the digital agency.
We’ve heard a lot about listening over the past several years as marketers have sought to make the most of the social web. But are we really listening? Former President Calvin Coolidge once remarked that, “No one ever listened themselves out of a job.” Customer feedback today is easier than ever to come by, and experts and observers have encouraged companies to engage in a real dialogue with customers instead of just talking customers’ ears off. As Umair Haque of the Havas Media Lab wrote back in 2008, “listening beats talking.” Companies claimed to have gotten the message, unveiling elaborate listening programs, such as Starbucks’ mystarbucksidea website. More recently, the Wall Street Journal has taken note that business “are listening” to customer reviews and other feedback on sites like Yelp, City Search, and Urban Spoon.
The strongest brands in America, according to a new study, are not American. They are German and Japanese luxury car brands: BMW; Mercedes; and Lexus. But the U.S. brand with the greatest "social currency" is one that has existed a mere ten years (and it's not even an Internet or tech company): JetBlue.
Social media might be old. It might even be a dead buzzword. That’s why you need to paint a picture that’s more meaningful and encompasses what “social media” as a label really is. Some of us have been thrust into social media simply because the online landscape showed potential for online conversations. Others have been there for over a decade. Regardless of the many years of experience you have in the online space, the ideas behind social media and social media marketing are applicable to everyone. Let’s take a look at some lessons, takeaways, and tips.
“I listen to a customer call every day. Every single day.” Dell Global Chief Marketing Officer- Paul-Henri Ferrand. I am impressed: I have met hundreds of heads of marketing and never has any of them told me they devote this much time to actual customer contact. Most marketing directors I meet speak of their customers as an abstract quantity, or perhaps an undiscovered exotic species. This probably explains why most heads of marketing are have a disproportionate reckoning of the importance of their brand in their customer’s life. Not Paul-Henri from Dell. He seems different. He is French and charismatic (which helps) but more than that- he talks with conviction and ambition about the the transition towards a ‘new Dell.’
The older I get, the more I become convinced that the average person in our "sound byte society" has the attention span of a gnat. Worse, I fear that in making this assertion, I may be describing myself. I've traditionally been a bit of a cynic for the latest fads. My elders drilled it into me that you "stick with something that works." Yet despite being the immediate past president of the Marketing Research Association (MRA) and a staunch advocate of classical marketing research methodologies, I'm actually starting to buy into some of the "buzz du jour" about social media as a viable tool for measuring fan sentiment.
Here's the rub: We've got too much sizzle in the system right now. Social media garnishes every marcom conference and discussion, and I'm already bolting myself in my chair before the unstoppable tweet tsunami from the SXSW crowd over the next 10 days. We're obsessed. Join the conversation! Engage the conversation! Hell, spike the conversation!
The Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) recently produced a playbook that contains more than 35 case studies of putting listening to work, written by Steve Rappaport, the Advertising Research Foundation’s Knowledge Solutions Director. The playbook is about listening to customer conversations and seeks to answer four questions that ARF members and many industry folks are asking:
What Makes Your Advocates Feel Like Rockstars? Lavishing them with freebies? Flying them all over the country? Throwing monthly parties for them? Maybe for a while. But not only is that not sustainable, it’s not good business, either. So here are some simple ways to engage with your fans and make them feel like the rockstars that they are.
An overnight success ten years in the making, social media is as transformative as it is evolutionary. At last, 2010 is expected to be the year that social media goes mainstream for business. In speaking with many executives and entrepreneurs, I’ve noticed that the path towards new media enlightenment often hinges on corporate culture and specific marketplace conditions. Full social media integration often happens in stages — it’s an evolutionary process for companies and consumers alike. Here are the ten most common stages that businesses experience as they travel the road to full social media integration.
If you oversee a brand and your goal for 2010 is to start listening to people via Social Media, don’t read this post. Bookmark this post and read it in six months. If however, you’ve spent most of 2009 listening then please, by all means, read on.
In order to compete in this new economy, chances are you've already pared down your operations. You've also probably adopted "flat revenue" as the new measure of growth. Even typically profit-focused Wall Street is looking at sales growth to see how people are spending money again. I have news, growth is the only real measure of growth. And with your operations streamlined, now is the perfect time to grow.
Amid some 200 analysts, investors and media last week, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent made a confession. "There was a period when our company did lose its way," he said. "We were too internally focused and not focused enough on the changes taking place with our consumers and customers. In essence, we were too busy looking at the dashboard and were not sufficiently paying attention to the world outside of our windshield." While Coca-Cola remains the dominant beverage company in the world, and controls nearly 51% of the global carbonated soft-drink business compared to Pepsi's 22%, according to Beverage Digest figures, it had, perhaps, been too focused on soft drinks at a time when other beverage categories were on the rise, said Bill Pecoriello, CEO at ConsumerEdge Research.
For the last two years I’ve hosted a very unscientific poll/survey to find out what companies over the past year have shown that they were listening. The goal was to get an sense of who stood out among the minds of readers as an organization with open ears. This year however, I’ve decided not to do a survey for 2009, at least not in way as have the past two years. The reason for this decision, comes after spending a large amount of time advising clients on their online monitoring and reputation management plans. I’ve come to understand more deeply that there are many different levels and reasons to listen.
Just about every week I see an article or have a conversation with a client about the potential risks of social media and how to manage them. Quite frankly, there are many ways that social media can go wrong and cause problems for a brand, and as someone who shares advice on using social media for marketing - I can readily admit that. What I haven't seen as much discussion about is how social media could be used to protect your brand. Not fighting back after a crisis happens, but proactively as a tool to prevent people from hijacking, corrupting or negatively impacting your brand. What if you were to see social media as a way to prevent these effects instead of a potential conduit to increase them? Here are a few ideas for how you might use social media to protect your brand.
As we look ahead to 2010 in the world of social media, we should first stop to appreciate how far we’ve come in this journey to new found relevance and presence. Social media served as a great equalizer. The technology and the corresponding networks that freely connected us, democratized the ability to publish and share content, weave more meaningful relationships, as well reset the ecosystem for establishing and wielding influence. Perhaps most notably, Social networks made the world a much smaller place. As such, it also set the stage for the emergence of a new caliber and genre of influencers and communities that support their mission and purpose. On any given subject, these authoritative networks can incite change and galvanize action to govern, change, and direct market behavior.
If monitoring conversations and knowing what you're listening for is the first ingredient in good online best practices, knowing when and how to respond is much more than good etiquette. It's become an integral aspect of brand management and can mean the difference between a flop - or worse, a crisis - and a deposit in your company's reputation bank. It's easy to dismiss Twitter's usefulness as a tool. That is until you figure out that on Twitter you can find mentions of your brand and you can actually connect with customers directly and provide a first line of response. Chances are, that in 140 characters, you won't be able to do much more. But don't underestimate the importance of that public gesture.
By now, most consumer marketers know they could be using Facebook (Facebook), Twitter (Twitter), blogs, and other social media platforms to boost brand recognition, engage customers, and drive sales. But getting a social media marketing program started – and keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the industry – can be daunting. The good news is that with the right technology tools, social media marketing programs can be managed at scale and can help the entire organization (not just the marketers!) find out what customers are saying, sharing, even feeling about your brand or business. When thinking about the technology tools you need to launch, measure, and optimize your social media marketing and online customer engagement programs, it helps to organize your efforts into categories: listening and monitoring tools; editorial, publishing, and content syndication tools; and conversation measurement tools. There are hundreds of tools out there, but here are some of the more popular and effective ones that can be put to work for you.
As Facebook passes 300 million active users, it is quickly becoming the favorite engagement-marketing and communications platform of brands. While the robust social platform brings with it abundant opportunity, it also brings new challenges. Brand marketers and their creative agencies are more than ever operating in new territories, forced to rethink their tactical marketing approach and understanding of what metrics matter in this space. On Facebook, consumers and brands are friends. The notion of consumers as friends is inviting to brands, yet most marketers are still somewhat unclear what this really means and how they should approach this friendship. As such, the remainder of this article aims to unlock some of the secrets to a successful friendship between a brand and a consumer on Facebook.
Watch this video by Bruce Nussbaum, BusinessWeek's innovation editor and veteran employee with the company. It's a fascinating illustration of the shifts in business we are seeing in real time. Media outlets in particular have been on the front lines of this shift. As I've said many times before, the Web and its latest social iteration has introduced ultra deep and pervasive niche content and experiences which directly compete with many business models. There is a unique online destination for everyone, no matter how specialized the interest. The network economy is the opposite of mass—it's niche, fragmented and content distributers are feeling the heat.
This is the marketer's and researcher's dream. Reconciling the natural tensions that challenge and befuddle brand planning: * Feelings & Facts * Sentiments & Statistics * Qualitative & Quantitative * Focus Groups & Surveys * Subjective & Objective * Why & What * Art & Science I'll admit, when I first heard about Google, Facebook, and Nielsen studying, decoding and monitoring language and chatter on the Web and "listening to conversations," the consumer part of me got a little bit of the creeps (Big Brother idea). On the other hand, the market researcher part of me was excited about the all the possibilities.
When thinking of any Social Business Design problem, it's important to realize that there are three areas which will define all of the challenges which will need to be resolves in order to move any business toward a more open, collaborative model which benefits all constituents (employees, customers, partners). These areas are: People Process Technology Right now the industry is focused on technology, which is understandable since advances in it have enabled us to do so much more with less. However, I wanted to focus this short post around a subset of people. It's a thing commonly referred to as "corporate culture".
Where do you start? That’s the question I get often when I’m asked how to help a company market using social media tools. The people who contact me are smart. They tell me things like, “Yeah, they said we should start with a blog, and we said, ‘like the blog we already have?’” But what comes next is rarely a simple choice. I wanted to take you through some thoughts on what the basic building blocks of social media might be for a business (in the context of marketing, but then stretching a bit further out). Remember, roadmaps don’t work really well until you have a solid goal or destination in mind. None of this matters unless it feels right to you, regardless of my advice. You know your company’s boundaries. You know what your comfort levels are. Proceed at your organizational pace.
I am an early adopter of social media and set up my listening post 5 years ago to scan for people, trends, and ideas related to social media and nonprofits. Listening and engaging with people has been critical to any success I’ve achieved as a social media practitioner – whether I’m blogging or fundraising for Cambodian children. For the past five years, I’ve been teaching social media workshops for nonprofits and lately doing deeper dives on the techniques of listening both for nonprofits and in my role as Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Packard Foundation. This is a four-part series about listening for nonprofit organizations summarizes the insights I’ve learned about listening.
Nokia is trying hard to be seen as an open organization. This website is a good example of a company that's opening its people and process up for public view. If you happen to be interested in working for the company, a huge fan of Nokia or work in a related field, this can be good stuff to see. In essence, it's material for a very limited core audience.
At the excellent MarketingProfs B2B Forum a couple of weeks back, I had the pleasure of attending “Marketing 2.0: Integrating Social Media into Your Marketing Mix” a session hosted by IBM’s Sandy Carter. Carter’s presentation offered a variety of valuable social media insights and strategies on three interesting projects at IBM. The lessons learned from one case study in particular stuck out as worth sharing.
In A Simple Presence Framework, I gave you a potential set of steps for building a platform (or a collection of sites and software to use) to carry your online presence. In Make Presence Management Work for You, we’ll show you some thoughts on how to use it. This is written from the perspective of managing an individual’s presence needs, but you’ll see where the corresponding points for a business would be, as well.
Gaining the awareness, the attention, and ultimately the trust of a community online is a challenge many people are working to accomplish. Whether for your own personal interests or for a business-related use, we look to build relationships using these tools so that we can have conversations with the right people. But where should you start? What comprises a good methodology for using the platform? What’s the proper etiquette. Here are some starter moves to consider when building a presence framework for business communications purposes.
Nokia set up an intranet soapbox last spring known as Blog-Hub, opening it to employee bloggers around the world. Posting under aliases such as the Hulk and the Needle, the workers can be savage as they flame their employer for everything from its purchasing practices to the speed of mobile-phone software. Rather than shutting them down, Nokia managers want them to fire away.
You're a marketer who's hip to the idea of social media: You have a blog for your company or client, you know Facebook inside and out, and you can Tweet with the best of them. So you've got the communicating part down pat. But the big question is, Are you listening? If you have customers, chances are they're talking about you to their friends, to their coworkers, and to anyone else who will listen.
Can a company blunt its innovation edge if it listens to its customers too closely? Can its products become dull if they are tailored to match exactly what users say they want? These questions surfaced recently when Douglas Bowman, a top visual designer, left Google.
I think Twitter and Facebook can both play a role in a branding strategy. Having said this, I also think that just as users think about Twitter and Facebook differently, so too should companies as they go about their branding efforts.
Have you heard what’s hot lately? It’s the latest marketing trend. Using social media to listen to consumers, that is. The spotlight has recently shone on companies like Jet Blue, UPS, and Southwest for having used social media to learn about their customers’ problems and to respond to them quickly. Such attention makes sense. After all, participation in Twitter, Facebook, and other social media is growing exponentially and popular brands like the National Basketball Association have amassed huge social media audiences – why not pay attention to all of that’s being said to and about your brand?
Marketers have made great strides in recent years to better understand and connect with moms. But in trying to perfect the message, many have forgotten to listen to the very consumer they are trying to woo. According to M2Moms, 60 percent of moms feel that marketers are ignoring their needs, and 73 percent feel that advertisers don't really understand what it's like to be a mom.
In this new "enlightened" era of joining the conversation, it appears that the ship has set sail once and for all on the debate as to whether or not brands should participate in online conversations. But today I'm going to talk about avoiding the conversation and I'll offer five diverse perspectives on when it's (arguably) better to remain on the sidelines and observe in silence.
For decades, Harley-Davidson has been singled out as one of the strongest brand names—in an exclusive circle of cult brands including Apple and Mini. But how does the marketing arm of the Milwaukee, Wis.-based manufacturer drive sales leads into its 650 independent U.S. dealerships? And how has the brand parlayed its audience’s rare offline devotion into an interactive marketing success story? To address these questions, Brandweek sat down with Randy Sprenger, manager of electronic advertising and direct promotions, Harley-Davidson, where he’s been leading campaigns for the last 10 years.
Listening is about being still. And patient. And generous. It’s a difficult trifecta to achieve. Think about the last time almost anyone you know gave their absolute attention to you or someone who was talking to them. You have to quiet your mind entirely, and be willing to be influenced by someone else’s thinking and thoughts. You need to put aside any desire to rebut or argue a point, and be completely open and non-judgmental. Very hard to do.
A debate appears to be brewing in the retail community about whether chatter from social media sites should be viewed as a potential direct marketing research goldmine or as sketchy territory.
MTV doesn't play music videos. Magazines are dying. Radio is all about the $$$. It's no secret the old modes of music discovery have been thrown out the window. Thankfully, new music-finders are here:
At the start of the year, it all seemed to make perfect sense. PepsiCo decided that Tropicana, one of its biggest brands, was in need of a major brand overhaul. In January, the company told assembled journalists to expect an ‘historic integrated marketing campaign' and a redesign that would ‘reinforce the brand and product attributes' and ‘rejuvenate the category'. Then PepsiCo introduced its secret weapon. In swept Peter Arnell, chief executive of brand and innovation agency the Arnell Group. In a rambling speech, he described a five-month ‘journey' that had resulted in ‘dramatic' changes leading to Tropicana's packaging being ‘engineered' to ‘imply ergonomically' the ‘notion of squeezing'.
It’s never been so easy to voice your opinion in a public forum due to the rise of social communities, social media and social networking tools. Because of that, there’s a lot of hate out there. And it’s fascinating to me how people deal with the hate. And I’m talking about brands and personal brands alike. Do they immediately lash out the haters? Do they ignore them? Do they try to remedy the situation? It’s fascinating to see if people practice what they preach. Haters are interesting people. Because the thing about your haters is that THEY CARE ABOUT YOU. Enough to expose themselves and voice their opinion.
The Social Web is maturing at a blurring pace, packing thousands of years of behavioral and social evolution into the span of ten years or less. Social Media has amplified our individual voices and introduced an infrastructure that connects us contextually across a myriad of social networks. We're conditioned to participate and engage genuinely and transparently in order to foster meaningful conversations and ultimately relationships. I'd like to explore the other side of the discussion that rarely sees the light of day, if for no other reason than to serve as a reminder that we can always learn how to do things better.
There is often an ongoing discussion on Twitter regarding the number of folks you can or should follow. Chris Brogan has a great post on the subject where he discusses Dunbar's Theory, which states you can only really relate and keep up with 150 persons. I think that is a fair thought but I also think Twitter gives you tools to expand that number.
You can't turn around anymore without reading about social networks, hearing about them on TV, or seeing people Twittering while walking, driving, attending events or eating dinner. How can you keep up with it all? How can you possibly keep track of who's saying what to and about whom? Do you need one service or 10? Will free services work, or do you need subscription services? Here are some tools I use and recommend to help you keep track of your brand, your products, your industry, and even your social networks.
There aren't too many places where Walmart isn't dominant. The digital realm is one of the relative few, but not for long, as it ramps up a host of programs to vault the chain -- which has already distanced itself from value retailers in the offline world -- further ahead in the online one.
When you listen to your users, you get vanilla. feature creep. boring. It takes a dictator to create the iPhone and change the course of an entire industry. Imagine if Steve Jobs let other people add features to that device. So I’m surprised that Facebook, which has stared down its users so many times in the past, is folding on the most recent redesign flareup and reverting back to some old features. Just because, oh, a million people demanded it.
Twitter has multiple business models to choose from.
According to at least one early poll, the latest Facebook redesign is a flop. A week after the social network began rolling out the revamped home page, a "New Layout Application" on Facebook shows that few approve of the new version.
I assume most Social Media Insider readers would agree with the statement that corporate America needs to do a little work on this listening thing. But this column isn't just about not listening. It's about the fact that so often, if companies do, they commit a significant sin of omission, listening to customers who were either not invested in their brand very much or not invested in it at all. Worse, they do this listening in the contrived environment of the focus group.
I’m a huge proponent of professional listening as part of a business communication strategy. Lots of people will sell you ways to speak. They’ll give you lots of ways to get your message all over the place. Me? I’m passionate about listening as much as I am speaking. You know: two ears, one mouth, that stuff.
By now it's a widely accepted marketing maxim that a brand isn't simply what its marketing department says it is but what its customers say it is. And listening to what consumers are saying and distilling the most important information into useful business insights is an area in which most marketers rely on a fast-growing group of outside vendors for help.
Chris Wilson of The Marketing Fresh Peel asked his readers which businesses were listening in 2008. Here's what they said: