The room spins as you march in a circle, laughing to a lively tune. As your mind wanders from dizzy repetition, you return to reality with a start: The music has STOPPED! Throwing yourself backward toward a chair, you meet the ground with a rude thud. With a sheepish grin, you slowly look up to see satisfied smiles on either side of you. Game over: You’ve lost. You weren’t listening. You took your seat one beat too late and two feet too low.
The rise of social media has morphed modern business into a grand game of “Musical Chairs.” And when the music stops, there will be business functions that no longer have a seat in the circle. The teams that are still welcome will be those that took the time to listen with care.
In Musical Chairs, listening is the difference between a lengthy run and an early exit. Some may ask, “ What does this have to do with ME? I’m a writer, not a listener!” True enough: Listening may NOT be a job requirement for a pure “writer.” But are we on Team Techcomm truly only writers? Have we not grown into communicators? And is it NOT essential that a “communicator” to be a GREAT LISTENER? Surely we can all recall a time we’ve been cornered by one who only talked and who wouldn’t anyone get a word in? Would we call that person a good communicator? Certainly not. In fact, I could argue that listening is at least half of communication, and it just may be the better half.
Since the rise of Web 2.0, our customers have been speaking: all day, every day. The time has come for us to listen. They are expressing their opinions in blogs and on social networks. They are asking specific questions about how to use our products. They are documenting our products on user-generated content forums.
We have a chance to remain in the dance. There is still an empty chair, one yet unclaimed, and it can be ours. So if you’re so inclined, here are a few free social listening tools you can use to get in the game. I’d LOVE to know of others, so if you have suggestions, please share them in the comments.