I may be in the minority with this one, but I am one of those people who reads every bit of an instruction manual or directions before diving into the assembly of this or that product. Many (if not most) people tend to forego these things in favor of trusting their own inherent capabilities for putting together a bookshelf or installing a cable box or cooking dinner. And of course, ignoring the directions does not always result in dire consequences, but more often than not, the process would have been more efficient had you listened to the instruction manual.
Listening (or reading) is not only important for building a piece of furniture that doesn’t fall apart when you try to use it, but also for building a brand that has staying power. Seems obvious, no? But actual listening involves a lot more than you may think. For example:
1) As if I haven’t reiterated it enough, brands/businesses/agencies need to jump on the social media bandwagon – this is not news. But it’s not sufficient to just join all of these websites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, etc. Each one is different and comes with its own set of instructions and social etiquette. You wouldn’t post the same sort of update to Twitter as you would to Facebook and DEFINITELY not to LinkedIn.
In order to create a professional, polished and on-brand personality for your business using social media, it’s important to feel it out first. READ what types of things others in your industry are Tweeting, search for guidelines to using social media (do’s and don’t’s), LISTEN to what topics are popular in order to Tweet about relevant issues and therefore attract more traffic. Do some research like this before mindlessly Tweeting or Facebooking in order to avoid social media faux pas.
2) Another issue that’s near beaten to death is that a shift in media is currently happening. Old news, true, but we’re still figuring out all the repercussions for businesses in the industry. A definite consequence, however, is that the way companies (namely advertisers, marketers, etc.) interact with consumers and the public in general is changing. TV advertising is giving way to internet and viral marketing, and consumers are provided with many more outlets for discussing (and criticizing) products and advertisements.
On the one hand, this open discussion makes it easier for consumers to “see through” ad campaigns and not blindly believe whatever promises commercials make them. While this may seem threatening to some (read: lame!) ad agencies, it actually offers so much opportunity for companies to grow, adapt to the times, and LISTEN to their audience. So much is accessible via the internet – consumer discussion on blogs, news websites, message boards, Google alerts set up to notify you when your brand is being talked about, Twitter hashtags – businesses have a wealth of opinions at their disposal on these websites. By reading and listening to what people are saying about their brand, or about what they’re interested in, or about what ad campaigns they love/hate, an agency can be more effective and, ultimately, successful.
So, to sum up, listen, listen, LISTEN. Most people are bad at it. It’s the truth. They’re constantly thinking of what to say next (or, in terms of advertisers, how to scream their message louder.) But some practice, and a little patience for doing research can (and will) go a long way.