The social media revolution was – is – all about talking. It’s about putting your ideas out into the world to see how they connect and collide with others’.
But if the social media revolution is about talking, the social media revelation is about listening. (See what I did there? Eh, eh?)
Social listening is a hugely important piece of successful online engagement because it has everything to do with understanding our audience(s), developing a sense of empathy, and speaking to our customers in a language they can relate to. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the step that’s easiest to ignore. Why is that?
I think we ignore it because it’s genuinely hard, and it’s often overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost. For what should we be listening? To whom should we be listening? On which channels?
These are difficult questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Yet, to butcher an Oscar Wilde quote, social listening is too important to be taken seriously. So let’s have a little fun with it, shall we?
Interactive Social Listening Exercise
The following is an exercise to get you and your team excited about social listening, and ready to think about it strategically. It might also make your colleagues blush (win-win!).
Step 1: Listen
Gather your team. Anyone involved in social media, communications, marketing, etc. Play them this song (“Overnight Celebrity” by Twista – free player embedded below). Resist the urge to giggle as your colleagues squirm and contort their faces out of confusion.
Step 2: Analyze
Explain to them that they’ve just heard “Overnight Celebrity,” a song by one of the fastest rappers on the planet, Twista. Ask: what did you hear? What was the song about?
Step 3: Organize for listening
Break the group up into three sections and ask them to listen for the following things:
Group 1: listen for every time Twista says the word “girl”
Group 2: listen for names of brands and other celebrities
Group 3: listen for items you may find in a home
Step 4: Listen again
Play the song again (yes, again), asking each group to write as they listen.
Step 5: Analyze
When the song is over, refer to the lyrics of the song, posted here. Which group did the best? Which got the most results, which got the most accurate results, and which got the most interesting ones?
Step 6: Reflect
How did it go? How did people feel about this exercise? How did this new framing change the way everyone understood the song?
Step 7: Take the conversation to the next level
How does this experience compare with listening on social media? Well, Twista, as mentioned above, was once known for being the “fastest rapper” – so it’s hard to just hear the song and try to get the big idea. But when we focus our listening, we can “hear” better. The same is true for social listening.
Step 8: Consider this question
How do we focus our listening?
Note that answering this question has a lot to do with why we’re listening in the first place.
There are lots of reasons to “listen” online. A few are:
Brand management: understanding how, when, and why people talk about us
Community engagement: understanding our people and what they care about
Content curation: finding good “stuff” to then contextualize and share
Ask: why are we listening? Which reason takes priority? What comes second? How do those reasons tie into our greater goals and strategies?
From here, take the conversation home. Think about what you need to listen for, and why. And don’t take yourselves too seriously. Let the playfulness of the activity spill over into this discussion; know you can – and should – adjust how you listen.
Folks have a lot to say on social media and it’s up to us to listen. Let’s learn to listen well…and not get lost in the lyrics.
This is a guest post and awesome exercise from Miriam Brousseau. By day, Miriam is a social media strategist and coach, working in a joint position with The Jewish Education Project and Darim Online. By night she is half of the “biblegum pop” duo Stereo Sinai (the other half is her husband, producer Alan Jay Sufrin). She loves learning to be a mom to an awesome baby boy, devouring all things Alice in Wonderland, Star Trek (Next Generation, mostly), and Oscar Wilde, and dangling stuff in front of her cats. She tweets as @miriamjayne and blogs at mjbrosseau.tumblr.com and, more recently, at miriamswhiteboard.tumblr.com.