Apr 17, 2012

Stop Shouting! Listen. Build Your Brand Listening

I don’t know what it is, but for some reason when marketers turn to social media they feel compelled to shout. They just start pitching with promotions, calls to action, value proposition, events and retweeting their content. Pitch, pitch, pitch. It’s plain annoying.

But this is the reality of the situation. Businesses look at social media as a lead generation platform, and their immediate reaction is to push their content far and wide.

You can see this happening in your own industry. Do a quick survey of your competitors’ Twitter and Facebook pages, and look at their social streams. Analyze their posts. What percentage of their content is about themselves? I’m willing to bet it’s somewhere between 70% and 100%.

But that’s not how you build your brand with social media. As my grade six teacher, Mrs. Dixon, used to say, “You were born with two ears and one mouth. Use them in that proportion.” This is an applicable guideline for brands marketing on social media.

Breaking a 50 year bad habit

Listening and engaging with people purposefully is not natural for many companies.

Brands have been conditioned to rely on one-way communications for the past 50 years. Prior to 2000, the technology available to engage large audiences was limited to broadcasting. As a result companies crafted messages and broadcast them as far as they could through ads, TV and radio spots, billboards and quotes in articles.

As the Internet has evolved, marketers have tried to apply the same broadcast advertising principles to the Web: banner ads, pop-up ads, quotes, link sharing and even search engine optimization. All techniques to get eyeballs to see their stuff.

But one-way communication strategies are not natural. Broadcasting content may create awareness, but it doesn’t build relationships. You need a two-way dialogue to create engagement.

Don’t shout. Listen

Users are tuning out. Many people avoid following brands on Facebook and Twitter, because they are tired of being spammed out with promotions and self-serving content.

The people who listen are the most powerful people in the room. The same is true for brands.

Instead of doing what everyone else is doing, take a stance. Listen. Pay attention to what others are talking about. Monitor the social networks, and look for opportunities where your brand can contribute value purposefully.

Listening pays off for brands, because it helps form emotional connections with customers. People want to be heard. By listening and engaging purposefully brands will get more customers to like them, trust them and find them credible. Like, trust and credibility are not formed pitching, they’re formed through relationships.

What’s your take?

(Image credit: Beverly & Pack)

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