Listening and Learning…From Social Media and Everywhere Else!

A recent study from PRWeek and communications agency MS&L, reported in, indicated that almost 70 percent of marketers say they’ve never made a change to their products or marketing campaigns based on consumer feedback on social media sites.

Now this number may be shocking, until you learn who the survey was distributed to. The poll was conducted among 271 U.S. CMOs, VPs of marketing and marketing directors in June.

Now I’m a baby boomer myself, so I intend no disrespect. But, my own recent experiences with various social media sites, as well as research and interviews I’ve done for articles on social media, and conversations with others of my age and older, would suggest that  many senior-level executives simply aren’t using social media.

And, in fact, the study goes on to further reveal that 43 percent of those responding said that lack of knowledge and expertise prevents them from using social media – and 39 percent said that they’re not convinced of social media’s value or ROI.

Okay. So, it’s not surprising to find that they’re not listening. (Kind of reminds me of the philosophical question: “If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there, does it make a sound?”)

If a customer, prospect, employee or other stakeholder says something about your company or its products and services in cyberspace and you’re not listening…

Guess what? – trees are falling in the forest, and there’s a pretty good chance that your stakeholders are talking about you in cyberspace (depending, of course, on who your stakeholders are and their level of adoption of these tools).

I don’t pretend to know the answer to the tree question. But I do believe I know the answer to the cyberspace question. Regardless of your industry, your geography, your product, your service, your customers, your prospects or anything about them, you need to be listening. It doesn’t matter where you’re listening – in fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re not listening to social media. IF… and this is a BIG IF… if your stakeholders aren’t using social media. But if they are, you’d better be there.

And you’d better be other places as well. Having formal mechanisms in place to identify listening posts, gather information from those listening posts and use that information as input into process and product/service improvement activities is critical for any business. Whether this means evaluating snail mail letters you may be receiving, monitoring and tracking the content of phone calls, evaluating in-person interactions with customers or, yes, using social media, if you’re not attuned to what your market is saying about you, you’re losing out.

But don’t take my word for it? What are your customers saying?

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