Social Media Listening

by Bradley Jobling on February 22, 2014

You’re new to the room. The conversation is already in high gear. There is a small group of people in one corner, a larger one in another. This is your first party in this new place. You understand the great potential for meeting people, for finding and a date, or for entering on to this new scene. What do you do?

Two things come to mind.

The first is to find the group closest to you. Enter into their circle and tell a joke. A smile and a laugh makes everyone feel good. It’s a party after all and who wouldn’t want to feel good. What a beautiful splash a joke would make into this soirée. Carpe diem as they would say in Rome or at an Ivy League school.

There’s also option two.

Size up the room. Look at what people are wearing. Check out the expressions on their faces. What are they eating or drinking? Are they loud? How do they interact? What exactly are they talking about?


Several things can happen based on the way you approach this party. In the first you can jump into the circle, tell fantastic joke, and have everyone rolling on the floor laughing. You’d be the new life of the party with your choice of company for the evening.

You could also jump into the circle, tell your joke find out that it offends this particular group. All has gone horribly wrong. Even if the joke was funny, you could have pushed aside the reigning king or queen of the conversation, who of course won’t taken that all to well. While it is possible to recover from this stumble, is it wise to take this chance in first place?

Social media and your company’s entry onto the social media landscape is similar to this first party. As in the scenarios described above, a couple of things can happen. Before jumping into the circle, it’s important to size up the situation, listen to what is being said, and then compose your social media strategy based on your findings.

Social media listening is becoming a discipline in itself. In simple terms it’s a tool that searches social media platforms and blogs for words or phrases, compiling what is found in a dashboard or email. Syntax and Boolean terms can help define and clarify the results. With these, a company or organization can discover what is being said about their product or industry on the Internet both quickly and conveniently.

Is this useful?

While the social media listening tools aren’t cheap, costing from a few hundred dollars a month to thousands, Eric Michelson from Canon USA says they are worth it. Aside from preventing marketing conversation gaffe, Eric says that listening can catch customer service issues early preventing product mishaps or even lawsuits, saving the company money.

As much as this makes sense, most companies aren’t using a social media listening tools. They can be expensive. The human effort behind managing the tool and turning its results into actionable data requires effort. But these still may be cheaper than faulty product launches, misunderstood marketing messages, or negative publicity.

Are you using a social media listening tool at your company or agency. If so, which one? Please share your experiences.

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