You have a hear­ing problem.”

At least, this is what my spouse will tell me fre­quently.  How­ever, I would argue that this state­ment is false, and that my con­di­tion is more of a lis­ten­ing prob­lem.  The Merriam-Webster def­i­n­i­tion of the two words shows a clear difference:

To Hear:  To per­ceive or appre­hend by the ear

To Lis­ten:  To hear some­thing with thought­ful atten­tion : give con­sid­er­a­tion

I hear the sounds and know when some­one is speak­ing to me, but some­times I do not give the sounds the con­scious con­sid­er­a­tion it requires to lis­ten and inter­pret what they are try­ing to say.  This, as you can imag­ine, has got me into trou­ble on more occa­sions than I would like to admit. Now, how many busi­nesses are doing the same thing and are caus­ing unnec­es­sary strain on their rela­tion­ships with their cus­tomers?  Many have invested in social-antennas and are tuned in to hear the social con­ver­sa­tions, but this is not lis­ten­ing!  In fact, why do we call these tech­nolo­gies ‘social lis­ten­ing’ plat­forms.  They are ‘social hear­ing’ plat­forms and require human inter­pre­ta­tion to lis­ten and give thought­ful atten­tion to what is being said.

Now, even when I lis­ten care­fully, I can still get into trou­ble if I don’t acknowl­edge what has been said in some way.  Even just the occa­sional ‘uh huh’ will go a long way, but I have found that it is even more effec­tive if I respond con­tex­tu­ally to the con­ver­sa­tion and present my point of view on the top­ics being dis­cussed. All of the con­ver­sa­tions and data col­lected by ‘social hear­ing’ plat­forms (Adobe Social included) will be for not, if the com­pany does not lis­ten and then respond and engage with their com­mu­ni­ties effectively.

Two Approaches to Lis­ten and Engage Effectively

There are essen­tially two approaches to engage with your social com­mu­ni­ties:  Proac­tive Mes­sag­ing, and Reac­tive Mes­sag­ing.  Although nei­ther is con­sis­tently more effec­tive than the other in terms engage­ment and action, when both are lever­aged as part of an organization’s social engage­ment strat­egy, they con­tribute to an opti­mal mix of rel­e­vant and orig­i­nal content.

A proac­tive approach to com­mu­nity engage­ment entails cre­at­ing con­tent and edi­to­r­ial cal­en­dars that are pub­lished to social com­mu­ni­ties on spe­cific days and times.  These are well thought out, well financed, vet­ted by focus groups, and typ­i­cally part of larger multi-channel mar­ket­ing cam­paigns. These cam­paigns will often have large invest­ments of time and resources, and there­fore it is crit­i­cal that we under­stand the return that they are pro­vid­ing, mea­sured in both engage­ment and conversion.

A reac­tive approach to engage­ment would involve the act of min­ing com­mu­nity feed­back for what is rel­e­vant to them at the moment, and cre­at­ing or adjust­ing con­tent quickly to cap­i­tal­ize on the ever-changing sen­ti­ment and inter­est of social com­mu­ni­ties. These cam­paigns typ­i­cally have lit­tle invest­ments of time and resources, but still have the poten­tial to be very impact­ful.  The ideation for these cam­paigns comes as a result of keep­ing a steady pulse of the social chat­ter and min­ing com­mon themes that emerge.

How does this apply to You?

The major­ity of the com­pa­nies that I have worked with are pre­dom­i­nantly engag­ing with their social com­mu­ni­ties via ‘proac­tive mes­sag­ing’.  I recently worked with a large national tourism agency.  They were run­ning a cam­paign that cor­re­sponded to the pre­mier of a major Hol­ly­wood block­buster that was filmed on loca­tion in their national parks (we’ll use Indi­ana Jones and Moab, Utah as an exam­ple).  As part of a larger multi-channel cam­paign and using the hash­tag #indi­ana­jones­moab, they hoped to real­ize the ben­e­fits from the increase in inter­na­tional atten­tion as the movie pre­miere drew near . Adobe Social can pro­vide this agency the abil­ity to mea­sure the effec­tive­ness of their cam­paign as it relates to reach, sen­ti­ment, and even site click-throughs and engage­ment.  Mon­i­tor­ing earned (organic) posts, on social chan­nels would be a good way to keep a pulse on real-time reac­tions to the cam­paign, and help gauge over­all reach. In order to do this, they should be mon­i­tor­ing terms related to the campaign.

For exam­ple, within Adobe Social they could monitor:

  • indi­ana jones + moab
  • indi­ana jones + utah
  • indi­ana­jones + moab
  • indi­ana­jones + utah
  • #indi­ana­jones­moab
  • etc.

This will lis­ten to both owned and earned media and help quan­tify poten­tial reach, and over­all sen­ti­ment of what is being said. Key met­rics for Proac­tive Mes­sag­ing cam­paigns would be men­tion vol­ume, reach, sen­ti­ment, com­mu­nity growth, and impact on deeper on-site engage­ment met­rics.  As this was the first cam­paign being mea­sured in Adobe Social there was not a lot of data to allow for suc­cess bench­mark­ing, but they can use this as a stan­dard bench­mark for future campaigns.

A proac­tive approach to Social engage­ment should not be used exclu­sively as it can limit learn­ings and real-time opti­miza­tions that can occur as a result of Reac­tive Mes­sag­ing. There­fore, this tourism agency should also be mon­i­tor­ing indus­try terms that have a loca­tion qual­i­fier attached to the indus­try term, for example,

  • moab + vacation
  • moab + biking
  • moab + hiking
  • etc.

When mon­i­tor­ing at this level, they will be able to iden­tify emerg­ing themes that can be lever­aged for future cam­paigns or quick, rel­e­vant mes­sages to their social communities.

For exam­ple, when look­ing at men­tions for dif­fer­ent activ­ity cat­e­gories in Moab within Adobe Social, social men­tions con­tain­ing ‘Bik­ing’ related themes account for nearly 30–40% of vol­ume.   Did they know already know this?  Is this a new trend?  How are they  incor­po­rat­ing this and other learn­ings into their con­tent mix?

Using this data to help reac­tively engage day to day, lets your audi­ences know that you are lis­ten­ing to them, and ensures that your posts/social con­tent are rel­e­vant and current.

How are you engag­ing your social com­mu­ni­ties?  Are you using insights to drive your strategies?