Monday, April 06, 2009

Listening: expectations, realities and incentives

Now that we have tools to make everyone a publisher, a distributor and a marketer, many of those of us who employ those tools are raising our expectations.

When we publish we expect our voices to be heard by companies, organisations and brands we are publishing about - where-ever and when-ever we publish.

If we publish a moan about service we are coming to expect that service provider to hear us.

And we expect action, real change, as a result. (image courtesy

But for them to even listen requires the employment of good listening tools and expertise (and many businesses have not tackled this first step) AND quite fundamental shifts in thinking.

They have to raise how they value what customers think and say to new, empowering, highs.

They have to see you as much more than their customer. Few have taken that leap.

So, often the power the citizen thinks they weild (and should be weilding) when they use social media to publish, lacks the effectiveness they hoped for and intended.

Their friends will hear them ( and that will hurt your business of course) but the intended receipients remain deaf to the message.

Two fundamentals about social media:

  • We want to be heard
  • We want to make a difference.
With these two notions we can start to build tools to connect more silo'd businesses and orgs with the citizens of the networked world in a way that brings value to both parties.

It's in the interests of the business because listening and responding to people who care about your products and services brings huge value for:
  • R&D
  • A/B testing
  • Marketing
  • Market Research
  • Reducing Churn
  • Recruitment
  • Etc (please do add your etc in a comment below :-)
And it's in the interests of the networked citizen because we want to be heard by the org to effect change.

Outward facing orgs are ready to reach out. Great listening tools and a willingness to engage with the conversations they discover give them their launch pad.

More inward facing orgs, those a little more disinclined to relinquish control, have a workable alternative:

Create and maintain a set of social tools around yourself where those who care about your products and services can interact one with another and with you.

Create a conversation-about-you portal; complete with an aggregation of related conversations-about-you RSS feeds.

If you build it, they will come? Perhaps. Some. But you will also need a listening strategy to find those who care.

And their incentive to have their conversation on your portal?
  • They want to be heard
  • They want to make a difference
Guarantee that and they may come. Dell ideastorm guaranteed that.

And to improve the value exchange still further, offer rewards for contribtions that do make a difference.

Make it so the people who publish and distribute and market where and when they like, see value in publishing about you to your face.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?