Shut Up & Social Listen

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Shay Wright – Enjoy!

At any given moment, there are literally millions of different conversations happening online, and some of these conversions could actually be related to your specific product or brand. Are you listening to these conversations? If you are, are you listening for more than just mere words but actual insight and useable feedback? These conversations can offer vital information to further improve your business, product, and online reputation. The key to gaining this important insight, however, is often to simply shut up and listen.

Listening station

photo credit: Beverly & Pack via photopin cc

Listening requires patience and understanding of the customer’s point of view, and many companies don’t like this. They prefer to do more talking, and they are so overly anxious to get their message out that they end up missing the mark because they have not taken the time to really listen to their customers.

Listen For The Right Reason

Nobody likes the idea of some nosy company listening in on their conversations about a particular product or brand. If you’re listening in just to feed your ego or slam anyone that says something negative about you, you are in it for the wrong reason. When it comes to social listening, first ask yourself what your motivation is. If your motivation entails anything other than striving to better understand your customers in order to serve them better, you are in it for the wrong reason, and your social listening efforts aren’t going to lead yield the results you had in mind. Listen for the right reason, and your time spent listening will be some of the most effective time you spend.

Benefits of Social Listening

While social listening does require some time and patience, the benefits of social listening far outweigh the time and effort involved.  Below are a few of the many benefits that social listening can bring.

1. Tool For Testing

The great thing about the Internet is that it is a great way to get a quick reaction and immediate feedback from people. You can test the waters without investing a lot of additional time and money into something that people might not be that interested in. Put your product or content out there and listen to how people respond before deciding how to proceed with it. You may decide to throw out your idea altogether or even go bigger than you originally planned.

L.L. Bean often uses its online audience to test out new merchandise for its stores. Online test marketing can help large retailers like L.L. Bean determine just how popular a product will be before placing it in stores across the country.

2. Find Your Audience

With the right social listening tools, you can find out where your targeted audience hangs out. There are a lot of niche communities where you might find a plethora of people interested in your specific product or service. If you find out where your targeted audience tends to hang out, you can listen to their conversations, better under their points of view, their wants and needs, their likes and dislikes, etc. And when the timing is right, you can later join in the conversation or carry out a marketing campaign in that specific community. You have to take the time to listen first though.

3. Find Advocates

Never underestimate the value of your true brand advocates, and you’ll find out exactly who they are by doing proper social listening. If you come across someone that talks about how great your product or service is, enlist this person in your cause. Brand advocates can become some of your most valuable assets.

4. Content Ideas

If you are doing a good job of social listening, you often discover common questions or concerns that your audience has in relation to your product or service. You can then use this information to develop content that solves their questions and concerns. If a lot of people are confused about how to use a particular feature of your product, write a blog post about it and reference it, when appropriate, in online conversations.


Keep in mind that just because a conversation is happening around your brand doesn’t mean you have to jump in the conversation right away, as tempting as it might be. Take the time to listen first, and then use the information you gather during the listening process to respond to your audience in the most effective way possible.

Some great tools you can use for social listening include Google Alerts, HootSuite, Social Mention, and Fresh Web Explorer.

shayContributed by Shay Wright. Shay loves to read, write, and discuss pretty much anything Internet marketing related and is currently working as a Senior SEO Specialist as – the leaders in search engine optimization and other Internet marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes.

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  • Stephan Hovnanian

    Excellent post, Shay. Don’t forget to add Google+ to your social listening. Even if you aren’t active on the network, those negative (and positive) posts can show up in search faster than on some other networks. Since people go to the search engines to find something to buy, this could spell disaster if an influential G+ user writes something negative about you, and you aren’t responsive. I wrote a blog post about social listening on Google+ if you’re interested.

    • shaycw

      Nice Stephan! A post just about listening on G+. Lots of great points in here, and I like the the good and bad examples you gave at the end. It’s amazing the power and influence that one person can have with so many followers. Thanks for the great share!

      • Stephan Hovnanian

        Appreciate it. I don’t think enough businesses are using Google+ for listening, simply because there aren’t enough integrations with their existing tools. But it cannot be overlooked, that’s for sure.

  • Craig McBreen

    Hi Shay,

    Content marketing is about romancing the customer over time, right? To love thy customer you have to listen and refine as you go. It’s the only way to build up a firm foundation of useful content.

    So paying attention is very important. It’s how you find what truly ails your customer, so you can help them blow past that big, fat problem.

    Great advice and practical tips here, thanks!

    • shaycw

      I really like that Craig. Content marketing is certainly all about romancing the customer over time. Listen and refine as you go. If you don’t, you’re kind of like the guy that just talks about himself all night and never takes the time to figure out what his date’s interests and hopes are. We all know how that turns out for him. You’ve got to listen online as well.

    • Stephan Hovnanian

      Awesome perspective Craig!

      • Craig McBreen

        Thanks. Shay got me going 😉

        • shaycw

          Thanks Craig and Stephan for the great comments and insight. It’s always great to get a little interaction on the posts you write!

          • Stephan Hovnanian

            So true…I love it when a comment thread gets going, these days we all have one-way conversations with each other through social shares, tweets, etc. Putting it all in one spot so we can talk about the post, on the post itself, is valuable (and usually leads to additional insights to make the post even better)


    Great article. The idea of listening is at least as old as the fantastic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Things have changed from the days of Henry’s Model T but the importance of listen has not. Way to go bringing this vital business practice into our modern world of online marketing!

  • Colin Burnett

    yes! Glad that someone has come out and said we should listen more at times.

    I particularly like using Social media for testing…

    Keep up the good content…

  • MaeganA

    I definitely agree with this article. Learning from other people is an important tool for determining an effective strategy. When someone gives you an advice learn to listen and weighs things out. If it can help your company, I mean why not. :)