What Does Listening Sound Like?

Let me take you back for a moment … You are there at your bedroom door. You are what? Six? Seven? Eight years old?

The voices down the hall are muffled, barely audible. But they are familiar. Something stands out for you. Your name.

There is laughing.

Actually, there must be more people there than you imagined. Maybe it is a party. Didn’t they invite you?

Disappointment settles in. You do love a party!

And there it is again – your name. This time, no laughter. It’s quiet. Much quieter now – but the whispers wind their way down the hall.

You crack the door and feel the cool night air brush your face. The whispers rush past you, tickle the hairs in your nose like a torrent of pixies.

These conversations rush around you. They build. It sounds like excitement. It sounds like you are part of something. It’s strangely invigorating. You reach out – speak – say hello.

And then it happens. A pinch. A sting that reverberates across your nervous system. Why did they do that? What happened?

Social media isn’t child’s play

While social media has a playful aspect – it is anything but simple. It can be volatile, unpredictable and move with incredible speed. It is a space that has been colonised by consumers – and it is clearly the consumers who are in control of whatever conversation is taking place. Brands, in this analogy, are children – learning their way, soaking up experiences and making mistakes.

The unfamiliar familiars

The thing to remember with social media is that while you are AT the party, it’s not a party that is FOR you. Everything is familiar – but slightly displaced:

  • Your friends are not friends
  • Your followers are not necessarily interested in you or your brand
  • You are essentially eavesdropping which means you need to orchestrate a way in to the conversations taking place – don’t just arrive empty handed
  • People may be talking ABOUT you, not TO you

The temptation to launch into a conversation may be tantalising – but to do so without preparation, without some planning and without some goals or measurements in mind can be disastrous.

To help you get a sense of what goals and measurements you may want to consider, I have included Amber Naslund’s excellent presentation on listening, learning, social media and metrics.

Make sure you listen before you leap!