Social Networking Platforms are Valuable Listening Posts


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I was in Junior High School during the early 1970s recession and I can still remember my parent’s struggle to keep our small family business from closing. In the late 70s I enrolled in college and completed my undergraduate degree just in time to enter the job market during the recession of the early 1980s. According to a study by Yale University’s Lisa Kahn, college graduates who entered the job market during that time period made significantly less money for at least a decade, compared with those who graduated in more prosperous times.

I’m really not complaining, although I will add that I went back to school and completed my MBA just in time for the 1987 stock market crash. Is that funny or what? OK, my timing seems to be a little off, and my children have heard all my … “the snow was always deeper” … type of stories. Still, how is your organization listening and learning to what’s important to today’s cautious consumer?

In my post “How to Engage the 2009 Customer Mindset” I mentioned that sensitivity to total price, intolerance of poor customer service responses, and a focus on quality and trust was very important. I still stand by those recommendations, but when your customer’s appear to be hunkering down for the long-haul how do you find out what they really value?

Consumer needs and preferences are shifting. That means marketers should take extra care as it relates to adjusting their marketing mix and one of the best ways to know what adjustments are needed is to listen. Is your organization listening?

Social networking platforms are valuable listening posts and provide a rare opportunity to quickly learn what consumers really value. While reading their words you have the freedom to focus on what’s truly important to the writer. Whether the dialogues are in a group discussion on LinkedIn or referenced in 140 character tweets on Twitter; take time to listen and understand the conversation.

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Alan See
Alan See is Principal and Chief Marketing Officer of CMO Temps, LLC. He is the American Marketing Association Marketer of the Year for Content Marketing and recognized as one of the "Top 50 Most Influential CMO's on Social Media" by Forbes. Alan is an active blogger and frequent presenter on topics that help organizations develop marketing strategies and sales initiatives to power profitable growth. Alan holds BBA and MBA degrees from Abilene Christian University.


  1. Alan

    It’s hard to disagree with your recommendation that we listen in to social network chatter that is brand- or organization-relevant. It’s patently good sense.

    The oldest ‘technology’ for doing this is human labor. I could sit at the PC and spend time searching for relevant content on Twitter, Facebook, bebo and other sites but is this optimal use of my time? There are over 1000 social networking sites around the world. Which are most relevant?

    There are, of course, a number of CRM 2.0 technologies available. Do you have any views on which ones work well for listening purposes?

    Francis Buttle, PhD
    The Customer Champion

  2. Francis,

    The old human touch does work pretty well! In fact, I attended the SummitUp (#SummitUp) conference in Dayton this week and had the opportunity to meet many of the people I’ve interacted with on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Listening to customers, prospects, employees and friends … face-to-face is certainly most valuable. Relating to your question on which technologies to use in order to “listen through social networks” I find myself thinking that the answer is “it depends.” The reason is because I would certainly want to make sure I was listening closely on Twitter (Twitter Search, TweetBeep, SocialOomph, etc) if I thought my audience was using that channel. Of course there are other social media monitoring tools that can be leveraged including services from Radian6 and Vocus. I also like Digg, FriendFeed and Dilicious for listening purposes. The recent announcements between the major search engines (like Google and Bing) with Twitter and Facebook now mean our corporate ears are likely to be in hyper growth mode.

    Alan See

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