The Problem With Listening









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The biggest innovation of our time is not the ability to send brand messages directly to consumers through Twitter and Facebook. It is the ability to hear what they have to say in real time.

From a brand strategist’s perspective, there is a major problem with this realization. Why, you ask? Because of the harsh reality that we often tend to suffer from representative fallacy. That is, we think that because one person says something on a blog, there must be millions of others who feel the same way. This may or may not be true.

Turns out a majority of the original content shared on Twitter comes from a 0.04% of the actual user base. This hyper-engaged, extremely vocal minority is an important constituency, but keeping that group within context is equally important.

In other words, just because Radian 6 can tell you what’s being said, that really isn’t enough information to warrant bold shifts in direction. Sure, you’ll probably want to address an individual complaint if your customer voices one, but be careful about drawing exaggerated generalizations solely based on what you see in the sentiment analysis.

You’re not going to like the real answer, which is that it just ain’t that simple.

Today, smart social media strategies and decisions are based on what I call intuition, which involves a combination of your own gut instincts, real-time consumer insights, behavioral data, syndicated research, and a thoughtful eye toward making sense of all of these sources.

Striking the right balance and combination will be unique to each brand. Nobody can do it for you, but we can surely help you figure it out.