Social Media Marketing: Listening and Participating


White_paper_listening_and_participa Social media is providing marketers with an array of tools and opportunities that offer an unusual entree into understanding the good, bad and ugly of how customers use and perceive brands, your company and even your employees. In today's world, it is increasingly critical to understand your specific customer needs and to build business relationships both on a local and global basis.

Those strategies become more challenging, however, as the landscape grows more complex. New media strategies present a means of closing the communication gap brought on by time and distance. Valuable global relations are being created through tools that range from text messages to microblogs, podcasts, vlogs (video blogs), social networking communities and traditional blogs. By leveraging these new technologies, people exchange ideas and information, and discover common experiences that transcend cultural differences. Listening and participating in ongoing conversations enables organizations to develop a stronger emotional engagement with customers, prospects and other stakeholders.

So begins my white paper, Listening and Participating, that was recently published in Montgomery Research's new online publication Perform, the marketing 2.0 authority. Thanks to Patricia Witkin for the opportunity. 

In addition to building relationships, I also explore how social media is impacting the business of doing business.

Although the customer purchase decision is complex, and social media is but one influencing factor, information gleaned from listening to digital conversations can have an impact on how an organization conducts business and, in turn, can set internal cultural changes in motion:

  • From a C-suite perceptive, the challenge becomes how to integrate this new type of information to support customer focused business decisions.
  • From an operational perspective, the challenge becomes how to develop internal processes that will quickly pass the right information to the people with authority to take action.
  • From a marketing perspective, the challenge becomes how to leverage the information to develop a better customer experience that supports the brand identity.
  • From an R&D perspective, the challenge becomes how to use this type of customer insight to create new products and services that tie back to the brand.

The paper concludes with a few suggestions on how to get started and a gentle reminder that at this point the cost of ignoring social media may be greater than the investment in the strategy itself.

In summary, a successful social media strategy is one that involves two elements: listening and participating. Step one is to develop a continuous, action-focused listening strategy that tracks your customers' conversations. Step two is to engage your customers with simple and genuine "people talk."

The bottom line is that people want to do business with people they know and like, and consumer-generated media strongly influences the way your brand is perceived and how purchase decisions are made. Whether through Facebook, YouTube, blogs or another new media entity, your company forfeits a critical competitive advantage if it is not an active participant in the conversation.

I thought the article was too long to post so for your reading pleasure here is a Download PME1_WP_Bloomberg.pdf of the full article.

If the saying, you are known by the company you keep, is true then I must be doing something right because the other authors in the "New Brand Dialog" include celebs such as: C.B. Whittemore, Geoff Livingston, Lewis Green, Brian Solis, Chris Kenton, Ken Pulverman, Paul Gillin, David Binkowski, Ross King, Guy Kawasaki, Keith Piques, Dennis Morrow and Cory Van Arsdale. C.B has a great recap post at Flooring the Customer that links to the authors.


Trackback url:


Thanks for submitting a really worthwhile paper, Toby. It was a pleasure working with you & the other social media luminaries to make it happen. Keep that dialog going!

Posted by: Patricia on Jun 4, 2008 11:42:47 AM

"In summary, a successful social media strategy is one that involves two elements: listening and participating."

Well said Toby. C-level executives who don't already understand this are unlikely to adopt social media and social networking tools. And if they do, they likely will fail on execution.

Posted by: Lewis Green on Jun 5, 2008 11:09:00 AM

Could this be the underpinnings of your book? You know, the one you ARE going to write! Right?

Posted by: Paul Chaney on Jun 9, 2008 12:45:51 PM

Social marketing has helped me a ton. At first you make some effort, then people will request being added once they come thru friends, Google and what have you, so I definitely recommend using it.
But what it all comes down to is what people see on your actual site when they get here.
So your own site is what you should put most of your effort into.


Posted by: Firetown on Jun 10, 2008 8:42:29 PM

nice ..
good job...
nice blog

Posted by: kabonfootprint on Sep 11, 2008 8:08:51 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.