Listening – it’s a skill we’re taught early in life, but it’s the skill that companies can overlook or disregard when developing an online program.
With the diffusion of influence on the Web, which shifts gatekeeper status from traditional media to our personal circles of influence, having the context for the discussions about your company or product on the Web gives you a better understanding of what matters to those groups.
There are two types of listening that are foundational to engaging with online influencers.
Active Listening– Taking in the nuance of a blog or forum to understand the point of view of the community that has formed there. It’s the documenting of what topics interest, as well as those that don’t, the community’s members. Active listening will also help you determine the level of influence a particular community will have on your message. Active listening happens throughout a campaign, but the initial role of active listening is in developing the focus areas of an online program.
Passive Listening – This is listening for context. The insights we get though passive listening are gained by making sites and forums part of your daily reading. This is where your RSS feeds come into play. When you’re not focused on listening, you can gain another dimension of understanding of the online discussion.
The diagram below outlines the listening process. It’s shown in a linear format to provide context for listening on a longer continuum, but listening is part of a circular process that is ongoing and includes outreach and evaluation.
Are you listening?