On Thursday morning, I attended an interesting panel discussion hosted by Converseon, titled “The Road from Listening to Activation.” Even better than the delicious crepes that were served was the insightful conversation that took place among the panel of social media, or what they prefer to call “social intelligence” experts. Moderated by Rob Key, CEO of Converseon, the panelists included:
- Jon Burg (@jonburg), Emerging Channels Specialist, Digitas
- Craig Daitch (@cdny), SVP of Activation, Converseon
- Andy Von Kennel (@avkthinks), SVP, Growth Director, Rapp
During the discussion, as well as throughout Social Media Week, it has become clear that the question is no longer “What is social media?” For most companies, the past year has been primarily focused on social media checkboxes. Twitter account? Check. Facebook account? Check. Company blog? Check. However, as suggested by panel moderator Rob Key, “it is time to stop talking about what social media is and start talking about what social media does.”
As discussed by the panel, the true value of social media begins with the art of listening. Mining conversations can (and should) be used to develop a strong activation strategy between brands and their audience. Here are some highlights and key takeaways from the panel discussion:
- Listening requires more than just mining conversations. It is important to analyze what people are saying about a brand or company and why they are saying it. As stated by panelist Jon Burg, “the web is the largest focus group” and we should be taking advantage of all it has to offer.
- Social media is not just a PR issue. Nearly every comment made about a brand in the realm of social media is a direct result of the company’s efforts, whether it is related to sales, marketing, public relations or finance. Therefore, it is important to have all departments of a company involved and listening to what is being said on these platforms in order to keep customers satisfied.
- The term “social media” is limiting. When many C-level executives hear the words “social media,” their minds often go directly to Twitter or another type of technology that they have not yet fully grasped the concept of. However, there is a deeper level to social media that can be uncovered by just listening to the conversations that happen on these platforms.
- Social intelligence is what produces results. While the idea of listening (using social media) is built on technology, it is the human intelligence behind this technology that makes a difference. One of the panelists gave a great example of this concept, explaining that there is a difference between “I love Toyota” and “I love anything but Toyota.” Knowing the context and source of what is being said on social networking sites cannot yet be determined through technology and requires human analysis and insight.
- Know your audience qualitatively as well as quantitatively. While metrics and web analytics are certainly important, they do not allow you to get to know your audience on a deeper level. Knowing a person’s history and level of engagement in social media platforms helps companies to decide what issues need to be addressed. When negative comments are made about a brand, looking at the person’s following and previous comments can help determine the validity and potential impact of their claim.
- For most companies, listening is validation. With brand managers and CMO’s at war with the social media beast known as “ROI,” their primary purpose for listening is usually to prove to the CEO that they are doing their job. However, the most successful executives are those that are brave enough to use listening as a way to find out what they are doing wrong. By listening to what is being said on social media platforms, a company can gain deep insight into its customers’ feelings and pain points, allowing it to make the necessary improvements.
Is your company actively listening? Leave a comment below or send me an email!