Listening implies an active process of paying attention to what someone else is saying. According to Fast Company magazine, most companies don’t do nearly as much of that as they should, primarily because it’s more complicated to do.
Companies often believe they are listening because they are engaging in extensive online monitoring of digital communications and social media, and are aware of the conversations happening about their brand. However, listening requires more. Listening necessitates an active process of paying attention to what is being said, and developing an understanding of the people you’re communicating with.
As Sam Ford, coauthor of the new book Spreadable Media, writes:
Companies that hear and don’t listen often:
- know that a shift in perception has happened but have no strong idea as to why
- realize that there’s been a rise of interest in the company but little about what larger trends are driving that new interest
- can track what happened with a crisis after the fact but have little chance of seeing a crisis coming
- miss out on new business opportunities because they are tracking only what people are saying about the company and not understanding patterns in the lives of their customers beyond mentions of their brand
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