The Crisis in Listening

January 4, 2017 Anne Servidad


Wanting to be heard is a basic human need, whether it’s in personal or professional relationships. So why should interacting with a brand be any different?

In 2015, Professor Jim Manamara of the University of Technology Sydney found that the average large organization spends 80% of their resources on sending out messages to their audience, but only 20% on actually listening to them.

Social and digital marketing has changed the marketing landscape so much that brands are no longer talking inside a vacuum. Conversations are now a two-way street. By listening to what your audience is saying, whether it be their ideas or concerns, it enables you to understand what they need most.

Unfortunately, most companies are happy to selfishly scream out loud through campaigns and ads. It’s like being stuck in a room with someone who won’t let you get a word in. At some point, you just zone out. In fact, this report by McKinsey shows how aggressive selling makes it less likely to get repeat business.

This is why listening to your consumers gives you an edge over your competition. Yes, it is a painstaking process, but it gives you an ROI positive strategy for the long term.

Big money campaigns can be deceiving. It might give you the boost of awareness in the short-term but there’s a much bigger market ready to get captured.

With social listening, you’re able to add value to your consumers through insights that they willingly give you. It helps you connect with an audience that wants to be brand loyal and is just waiting for the right one to fit their needs.

On top of creating loyalty, listening is also a great way to learn. By listening to your customers you’re able to react more quickly to an ever-changing market and stay a step ahead of the competition.

social-listening-cisionIn a white paper by Cision,  Listening: Turn Real Time Media Channel Insights into Communications Action Plans, they tackle the issue of creating engaging and shareable content for an audience—one of the biggest issues that marketing teams in many organizations face today. The issue is narrowed down to one simple factor—listening.

The white paper outlines three things you can do to listen to your consumers:

  • Respond: Find out what your audience’s needs are and give them the relevant information
  • Evolve: Use insights and data to constantly adapt to your audience
  • Activate: Drive data from real-time data

By following one of those points, it’s easy to form the basis for social listening with your brand and put them into actionable steps.

Service or product issues/requests: According to The Social Habit, a research study on social media, 32% of respondents said that they expect a response from a brand within 30 minutes of sending a message online. This gets complicated since people often don’t tag the brand and simply call them out by name. By putting only 20% of their budget into listening, big brands are ignoring customers and giving them negative experiences, making them less likely to be repeat buyers. The Harvard Business Review attempted to quantify this data, finding that 74% of people who rated their experience as a 9 or 10 out of 10, were more likely to continue staying loyal to a brand.

Needs identification: Consumer needs are always changing and evolving. Something that worked today might not work as well tomorrow. Monitoring the conversation allows you to be proactive. As the Fort McMurray wildfire raged in the summer of 2016, the region’s municipality were able to stay on top of the crisis. By listening to displaced residents, they realized that people were concerned about food going bad in their fridges with the power out. The city acted on it by removing 10,000 fridges filled with rotten food that could have attracted pests and diseases, saving its residents a lot of trouble.

New opportunities: Social listening can also create new opportunities beyond marketing as fast-food chain, Arby’s, found out. The restaurant’s marketing team always have their ears to the ground and have made some good campaigns from the insights they gain from social media. Arby’s, famous for their roast beef, found that their customers were also talking about other meats that they offered. So they came up with a poster to raise awareness about everything else on the menu. Some customers mistakenly thought that this was a new sandwich and Arby’s quickly capitalized on it by putting the Meat Mountain sandwich on their menu.


The gap between sending out messages and listening to customers shouldn’t be as large as it is. Brands now have a responsibility to engage with customers who expect quick customer service and relevant, value-generating content. Simply by listening to your audience you can:

  • Identify trends and adapt to gain new customers and retain old ones
  • Test different kinds of messaging that work on different audiences
  • Find and engage with the best influencers for your brand
  • Build more detailed personas of your target to help with marketing and communications plans
  • Carve out niche in saturated markets by adding value to customers

Strong messaging ultimately comes from listening to your consumers. It allows you to create something that resonates with them and creates brand loyalty through authentic interactions. It allows you to stand above your competition.

The post The Crisis in Listening appeared first on Dx3 Digest.

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