Key to communities : Learning to listen

Key to communities : Learning to listen

‘Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.’Rumi, 13th century

Social media and email are still mainly used to push messages out, creating a very one-sided dialogue. As Simon McDermott (Attentio) pointed outduring the March 2010 PLUGG conference on what we can learn from the Eurostar debacle, few brands currently have social media ‘listening’ in place and disaster often prompts companies to make the delayed investment.

In order for you to build a relationship with your preferred community via open dialogue, it´s vital that you first listen using these tools.

An efficient way to find out where the customers are is to ask customers you already have what networks they are on, what they talk about on them, and who they are talking to. Also find out what bloggers they listen to. This will give you a clear idea of the platforms that you can start with, as well as the bloggers in the industry that you should try to build a relationship with. Pay particular attention to what influencers such as Nalden are saying; their impact on the wider community is significant. You will soon see that there is a lot of conversation and passion about most products and brands.

Interior design company MyDeco, for instance, simply follows tweets around certain keywords. Who is talking about interior design, and why? Then, they follow the talkers to find out what their interests and concerns are. Matthew Brazil (6Consulting / Radian6 UK Partner) during the above PLUGG conference, suggests these stepping stones for fresh listeners: search for key terms to do with your brandusing free tools such as Google, Twitter and Facebook; post your brand name, product, services or names of key individuals in various locations so these can be found and talked about, and look at what effective communication strategies your competitors are using.

Only when you have located your preferred community and your digital ears are in place, you can start selectively responding and reaching out.

Written by Esther with the material from the forthcoming book of John Sadowsky


  1. Olivia Landolt 14 years ago

    Hi Esther,
    Thanks for mentioning 6Consulting in your post.

    Very much agree with you, engaging with customers within the network and channels is imperative. While twitter seems to be a dominant channel it would be wrong to assume that every organisation should be using twitter which is why listening and monitoring is so important.

    A lot of companies and businesses are feeling the heat and noticing the move to social. With that pressure decisions are often made on impulse. However rather than spending money and time on channels that don’t work and informed approach, as it the case with any business decision, should be considered, or else efforts might go completely unnoticed or worst case, backfire completely.

    Olivia Landolt
    Marketing and Community Manager

  2. Esther 14 years ago

    Dear Olivia,

    thank you for your comment; I thought the contribution of your colleague Matthew Brazil during the PLUGG conference very insightful. I agree with you that there are multiple ways in which to listen and monitor; in a short Blog post it is easy to oversimplify the situation. So thank you for your refinement. And yes, a holistic and well-planned approach is essential: this is also an important theme in John Sadowsky’s forthcoming publication and will appear in this blog very soon.

    Kind regards, Esther Vogelpoel

  3. Olivia Landolt 14 years ago

    Thank you Esther, I’ll make sure to pass on the kind comments. When is John Sadowsky’s publication due to come out, would love to give it a read.

  4. Tyler Crandall 14 years ago

    Hi Esther,
    Really fascinated by this information. Having just started a couple organizations on my own, out of the smoldering ashes of some former organizations, my experience has shown that communication itself must be the core issue if you intend any kind of peace and longevity in the community. Great stuff!

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