Listening: The new metric

A conversation is a two-way communication, and listening Big Brother-style is just the first step. Early adopter brands that started the social media marketing trend nearly two years ago are now moving on to engagement or 'active listening.'

A conversation is a two-way communication, and listening Big Brother-style is just the first step. Early adopter brands that started the social media marketing trend nearly two years ago are now moving on to engagement or ‘active listening.’

‘The new CMO’s role will be one where, as opposed to treating the community like a market on the other side of the wall that you throw messages at, [he or she] is getting out into the community and living amongst the customers, potential customers, the media, the advocates, the critics, everyone,’ says David Alston, VP marketing and community at Radian6. ‘You live in the community, you build relationships.’

The Fredericton, NB.-based social media monitoring company tracks all the product, company, brand and competitor mentions floating out there on the interwebs. ‘The reason people tweet or blog or comment is they want to make their opinion known, so it’s all sharing,’ says Alston. ‘The problem is, for our clients, just for the keywords they want to monitor, we’re ingesting over 6 million conversations a day in the public [realm], so over 2 billion a year.’

Radian6′s platform makes monitoring all those conversations easier for global agency clients like PR firms Weber Shandwick and Ogilvy PR as well as social media firms like Shift Communications in the U.S. Brands from Pepsi to Dell to Molson to Cirque du Soleil and non-profits like the American Red Cross and March of Dimes are also on the roster, and demand is growing.

‘From an awareness perspective I would say just about any company out there now knows that they need to be doing something with social media; they just haven’t figured out what yet,’ says Alston. ‘Unfortunately in a lot of cases brands are also still thinking it’s up to them to decide when their brand joins social media, because the traditional thinking is, ‘until I do something I’m not in it.’ In social media you’re in it because your consumers put you in it. For some brands it’s going to hit them like a tsunami because they haven’t been out there riding the wave with everyone else and joining those conversations.’

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