Jeremiah Owyang has published an exceptionally detailed article tracking the different ways to engage in social media during a product’s lifecycle.
The article has a raft of good ideas in it including this insightful quote:
1. Listening: The most important step
This is one of the biggest problems for communicators today, just like a real conversation, is learning to listen. Any savvy party goer knows to listen before jumping into a conversation at a cocktail party. Marketers, MarCom, Integrated Marketing, Advertising, PR, have forgotten (or never knew) that by listening to the needs of the market will help them to create more effective messages and then evolve into a conversation.
Listening is the most underdeveloped skill in business today. Whether it is listening to our customers or listening to our coworkers, finding people who can listen well is difficult.
Listening to a market is a different skill set (rss, bulletin boards) than listening in a meeting, but both rely on true listening—active listening.
Active listening requires you to not only have heard what is was said, but to listen intently enough that the people speaking know that you have heard and understood them. Only after someone knows that they’ve been heard will they be able to engage in a conversation.
In social media, it isn’t sufficient to simply monitor the conversations. You need to understand and internalize the values, concerns and fears of the people involved.
The first time that a marketer speaks in a social network, it will be readily apparent those involved in the network whether or not the marketer truly gets what they are about or not. Marketers need to take the time to listen and to make sure that when they engage in the conversation that their audience knows that they have been heard.
I was pleased that Jeremiah listed listening as the most very first thing on his list. The rest of the list is just as insightful so read the full article.