Do you have a sec? I'd like to discuss something with you.
No seriously. Stop talking...for just one second. I want to tell you something...
I think most companies using social media today are really bad listeners.
And I think that they've made a strategic decision to be that way.
Great. Thanks. I'll be brief.
I'm not talking about the "social media monitoring" kind of listening here (the passive kind). I'm talking about the "I ask you how you are doing, and then sit and pause to allow you to answer before I tell you about how I am," kind of listening (the conversational kind).
This is a subject pretty much unaddressed in anything I read about social media strategy. And I've yet to read a social media case study that begins with a company asking themselves, "what do people want us to say to them?"
Most social media strategies assume an inherent control and ownership of the conversation on the part of the company entering the social space.
"What do WE (on high, the "producers") want to tell YOU (down there, the "consumers")?"
Social media strategy, in this context, simply becomes a matter of determining...
Us, us, us.
Talk, talk, talk.
Noise, noise noise.
Seriously, shut it already.
Conversations are TWO sided. (Yep, always have been, go ask your mother, she'll totally back me up on this.). You don't actually own them...you never have.
And the ones that happen in social media are no different.
When it comes to "media" - social, interactive, broadcast -- the rules have, quite simply, changed. And that means our strategy needs to change too.
When people were given the opportunity to talk back (they weren't waiting for our permission), we immediately switched from an environment that we could navigate with a carefully constructed strategy, to one that we must negotiate with a sense of grace and adventure.
In social media, we must be both strategic and flexible -- hold on and let go -- and that's no small feat. (No wonder all of us are struggling to write a game plan for it.)
While we weren't looking, our "consumers" redefined their role on the playing field -- Clay Shirky calls them, "the people formerly known as the audience."
And, if that's true, then perhaps that makes us "the people formerly known as marketers."
If the people have changed, them maybe that means our job need to change too.
What if our job as marketers isn't to get people to want the things we have?
What if our job as marketers is to help people have the things they want?
What if people have been telling us that this is what our job was for some time now, but we were too busy talking to listen?
I’m a consultant, strategist, author, educator, and speaker with more than 30 years of professional experience. I’m passionately curious, fairly sassy, kinda dorky and seriously good at what I do.