Step Two: Listen Close

Step One: Get in the Game
Here’s a second step in using social media, or at least in changing the prevailing mindset of business to something more community-centric with bigger ears.

Now we’re not ones to go ‘round spreadin’ rumors
Why really we’re just not the gossipin’ kind
Oh you’ll never hear one of us repeating gossip
So you better be sure and listen close the first time…
– Hee Haw 

One way to interact in business is to broadcast your product, your sales, your specials to the masses via radio, TV, internet, fliers, print and billboards. And maybe with that you “listen” through the statistics of the actual sales cycles and through surveys. That’s oversimplified, but the basic broadcast out and listen a little paradigm is probably still the widest known/used model for business today.

But the new way of doing things with social media, with word-of-mouth, with a community means a shift from 80% out/20% in to possibly the reverse, 80% listening/20% broadcast. Or at least making a point of making LISTENING and MONITORING bigger parts of your intentional business model.

People are already talking about your niche. They know widgets, they are talking about widgets, and they know a good widget when they see one. The old way would be to shout to the masses, “We have the best widgets in town!!” and maybe have a customer mailout from time to time. The new way would be to listen for “here’s what we like about widgets” and “there’s something that would make these widgets better” – things like that where people are already talking. Listen, monitor, and in some cases join these conversations.

What’s more welcoming and empowering to a consumer? “Come buy our widgets!” – or on the other hand, “So, we hear what you’re saying about widgets. What do you think about XYZ as a new way to use widgets?” The first throws out information, while the second draws out information in a conversational manner. The second gives some power to the other side and recognizes another perspective with the possibility to learn together.

The first way – sorry, this is coming through as a simplistic either/or, and it’s more complex than this – generally speaking is an US to them, a LOUD to soft, a HERE WE ARE to who are you kind of mentality. The new second mindset is more of an US thing, a Conversational thing, a WE ARE TOGETHER thing, again, simplistically speaking.

LISTENING more than SPEAKING allows the business time to grow, to learn, to see trends approaching, and to build community around the common interests of the many rather than only the profitability interests of the one.

SPECIAL ADDED NOTE: This is not just about business. This is anything in social media – your own Twitter feed, your Facebook wall, your YouTube channel. And anything else – your class, your church meetings, your meetups downtown for dinner. Listening goes further than running your mouth. Most people would rather talk, and letting them makes them feel good with the side benefit of then being more open to listening to you, too. Follow this piece of advice and your friends will thank you and me both.