Uttercast: More Emphasis Needed on Listening


A notion about business approaches to social media struck me yesterday during a webinar hosted by a client, Powered (www.powered.com). Chris Barger of General Motors (www.twitter.com/cbarger) said, in effect, that social media is above all a listening platform.

With all the preaching about interaction- speaking with your audience- it was refreshing and even a little startling to hear Chris make that statement.

Most "Social Media 101" missives do put listening up there, but I now think that perhaps we do not give it enough emphasis over talking (messaging).

It does make sense. Even in the go-go "pitch-pitch-pitch" world of PR, the more listening (and reading) we do before reaching out, the more successful we are.

Do we need to put more more emphasis on listening, even if it means talking less?

Mobile post sent by DougH using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3


  1. Listening is one of the most important aspects of an online community – I could not agree more.

    Granted offering areas for members to interact with one another (or with your company) is great, but what is done with the information that is posted? How do you sort through the information (posts) to find relevant information, or information that you can leverage to improve your product, marketing campaign, communication, company, business…..?

    This is one of the most important aspects of our Moderation services. When we consult with our clients, we let them know what information that we can provide them in a report so that they can distribute that information to their internal teams. That way not only is the community being heard, but the companies Community team is becoming a source of very valuable information.

    Offering community – $xxx (platform fee’s)
    Participating within your community – $xxx (employee hours)
    Receiving invaluable information direct from the source – Priceless

    Mike P / @nhscooch

  2. Mike, I know how deep you folks at Mzinga are into the community management, and I think your example underscores the point at a very practical level because you help your clients listen.

    We all say “listen.” We all probably need to do it more.

  3. Hi Doug,

    Although listening is critical, I think that listening without a strategy is a very wrong thing to do.

    I wrote about it in our blog, taking the examples of Obama and of Dell who by “just listening” have ended up being lobbyed respectively by the marijuana and by the linux communities. (Obama had to close his listening site).

    Here is the link: http://blog.ecairn.com/2009/01/22/dell-ideastorm-and-obama/

    Strategy, Segmentation and Targeting are to me critical aspects that many people/company forget when they jump in the “Social media listening” activity.

    I think it’s a wrong advice to clients to tell them they can just open a collaboration platform – even excellent ones – or find a few keywords and listen. They will get a biaised view of the world based on the most vocal and the most organized community and they can get lobbied.

    There is no shortcut but to know how communities are structured and then listen, engage, ignore …ie do what you think make sense for your business.

    At that point one can benefit from community platforms, listening solutions aso.


  4. Doug,
    I couldn’t agree more. From being in sales and seeing to many people taking all the time and not taking a breath to listen cost them $$ in their paychecks. It’s hard to tell someone that they need to listen more when most sales people in the industry I was in, were hard headed.

    I will say again, I agree and thanks for a great post via Utterli.


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