I’m curious about this new phenomenon called “listening.”
In the April 5, 2010 Advertising Age, a sub-head of a larger story says “As social media continues to grow, marketers place more emphasis on listening to consumers instead of just asking them questions.”
In the last three years I’ve heard one of my clients tell me they listen to their corporate customers and as a result they provide better client service; really? I’ve stated that blogging makes you listen differently. (I still concur with myself.) Now this headline about marketers who listen versus ask.
Social media has adjusted the balance between marketer and consumer. Where before consumers were preached at by integrated marketers, now they are sending messages in the reverse direction. The balance of power has shifted, and listening is indeed a new phenomenon, although now a different one-way street.
Online buzz provides much of the fodder for companies and organizations to grasp the conversation via monitoring and tracking and, hence, listening. Perhaps social media defines listening as new consumer-driven positive or negative content about brands being created every minute via word-of-mouth marketing with no pattern, no campaign, no budget, and no director in charge.
Although I understand the point about the need for more listening, shouldn’t this be an innate, basic skill? Isn’t success embroiled in listening?
Strategic listening requires comprehension and action. One can hear, but without full comprehension, there’s no action, and potentially failure. For a story to suggest listening is now being emphasized because consumers are armed with social media tools implies to me we’ve not been listening too well of late.
What’s your opinion about how you listen? Is social media forcing improvement of listening skills, merely pointing out how poor our skills were to begin with, or making listening temporary until another something comes along?