Pssst… Your customers are talking. Are you listening? 2

Are you listening?

Are you?

Let me rephrase that. Are you listening… socially?

Are you “listening” to what people are saying about your company, your products or services, your market space, and your competitors? Are you using that intel to understand your customers, who they are and what they want? Are you leveraging it to help you make genuine connections with them, and to give them what they need?

Or: Are you immediately using it to fuel analytics? Or worse, just not listening at all, but using social media solely as another one-way broadcast medium?

But let’s give you the benefit of the doubt. Let’s say you’re at least paying attention to what’s being said online.

According to my former Peppercomm colleague Sam Ford in his new book, Spreadable Media, there’s a difference between truly listening and simply monitoring:

“Listening implies an active process of paying attention to what someone else is saying. Most companies don’t do nearly as much of that, primarily because it’s more complicated to do. It requires developing an understanding of the actual people you’re communicating with and not immediately turning them into statistics.”

More than half of small business owners spend less than three hours a week online. At midsized organizations, the task of monitoring is often relegated to low-level staff or interns. So how much listening — much less monitoring — is realistically happening at SMBs?

Yet active social media listening is one of the most important marketing activities a business can undertake. Used properly, it can inform highly effective strategies and be used to truly connect with customers. It is the magic bullet of social marketing.

And it takes patience. It takes a willingness to spend the time to find the places where people are talking about things that relate to your business. It takes a sympathetic yet attuned ear to cut through the clutter and truly understand what’s being said, by whom, and in what circumstances.

So. Are you listening?

Lynn Esquer/SocialproseLynn Christiansen Esquer is a principal at SocialProse Media. Email her at


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