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Listening Should Be Your First Social Media Strategy

Yesterday while participating in a panel discussion at the SBDC FastTrack session at GSU, one of the attendees asked whether her firm needed a social media strategy. I shared with her the same explanation we’ve been using for several months: you don’t need a social media strategy; you need a marketing strategy. If a social media application is the right tool to help you achieve your marketing objectives, then use it. But remember, the tool you select today may not be here tomorrow or be the best solution next week, next month or next year. Your focus needs to remain on the marketing objective not the tool.

So this morning I came across Josh Bernoff’s contribution, entitled Customer Service is Marketing, and realized now I could make a good case for telling yesterday’s student yes. No caveats about plans or objectives. The answer just solidified in my mind as yes. But the execution of that strategy may be different than what she expected.

Listening should be your first social media strategy. Listening to what your customers have to say. Listening to what your competition is saying. Listening to the buzz and hum of happy, unhappy and just undecided folks talking about your product, service, market, geography or basic primal need that you fulfill should be your first step in a social media strategy.

Bernoff reports that Best Buy pays 2500 frontline Blue Shirt employees to listen – and then respond when it makes to help out the customer. I’d been made aware months ago that Comcast had a similar program, a guy or team of guys who monitor twitter for unhappy users and then jump in to resolve their problems. The Comcast Twitter guys are apparently so helpful that some folks go there first, instead of their phone or web support line.

But before you start engaging, or thinking about who you have or need to hire to engage, just listen. Listening is a fabulous marketing tool. And if you experience a vast sucking noise while monitoring the buzz on one or more social mediums then you have to come to one of two conclusions: your customers and prospects aren’t using this medium OR just perhaps, there is a great big opportunity to activate a program here because apparently your competition hasn’t discovered it yet.

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