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Social Media Listening Is Sound Business Practice

How many times have you had something, whether it was in your personal or professional life, go wrong because of poor communication? If you are honest, there are likely more than you would like to admit. Having those kinds of experiences doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with you. In fact, it’s just more evidence of just how human you and the people you communicate with are. You see although we are given two ears and one mouth rarely are they used in the right proportion. The results are often something you have to clean up but could have been completely avoided had you, or the other person, slowed down just long enough to really listen.

Listen, Understand, Act
Photo credit: highersights

Why is listening so hard for people? My theory is pretty straight forward and can agree or disagree. I think it’s difficult for most because it means you have to focus on someone else and not yourself. It’s an unselfish act and people, as a general rule, are remarkably self-centered. It’s a chore to concentrate on someone else’s stuff and it’s an even greater act of strength to care.

The results are never good when poor listening has taken place. Sure, they may work to some degree or may seem “passable” but they are never as good as they could be if we simply took the time to truly listen.

You’re probably wondering why I am going over ground that millions have tried to define and refine over the ages. Hasn’t this subject been rode hard and put away wet already? Yes and no. Yes, in that many have talked about it. No, in that since we experience new instances of the poor outcomes due to poor listening to this day there must be some unanswered or unattended questions on the subject. Honestly, it’s a subject that deserves attention. We don’t want to give it attention because it sounds too basic.

And that’s where the mistake happens. We don’t like hearing about the basics because they are boring. They are not sexy enough. They are not cool enough. Too bad the basics are what makes winners. Few if any champions in business or sports got there by doing the basics poorly. With that knowledge we are still horrible listeners and the results speak for themselves.

So how could we get better? Well, in the online space it’s much easier than we make it out to be. You see, the field of online monitoring and listening actually concentrates more on the interaction that is created because that is sexy. Someone says something and you can respond. But what if you are just responding to say you responded? What if you didn’t really listen or you thought you listened well? If we are not truly taking the tine to truly listen then all we are doing is taking our poor communication skills and transferring them to the online space. What good is that?

So what should we be doing? Listening, listening then more listening. Notice I didn’t say anything about responding. Most companies don’t even listen, so jumping to listening AND responding is running before being able to crawl. It doesn’t work.

So how do you listen effectively in the online world? In the only way feasible due to the sheer enormity of the Internet–use automated tools. Are they perfect? No, and if anyone tries to tell you that they are then they are lying. While not perfect, though, they are much better than not listening at all. So much so that those who are getting in on the listening game are starting to see that there is a true competitive advantage to listening closely to the online space. It’s more than listening for mentions of your brand. In fact, that is just one rather small aspect of online listening. Real online listening impacts all of these areas and likely more depending on your business:

  • Legal
  • Investor relations
  • Human Resources
  • Sales
  • Product development
  • Market research
  • Competitive intelligence
  • Executive reputation
  • Board of Directors reputations
  • Purchasing
  • Accounting

The list goes on.

So are you a listener or are you just acting like one? Are you taking the time to listen and absorb the online space for all that it offers or is it too boring? Here’s one thing you may want to listen to. If you are not listening to the online space, well, you may be in for the consequences of poor communication like you have never seen before. Is that the kind of risk anyone should assume?

That’s not what I am hearing.

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