Listening has always been important, but now in the world of social media where conversations are amplified, repeated and spread at a much faster rate than ever before, listening has become even more critical. Many of us, particularly freelancers, don’t have teams of people responsible for customer service and support to help make sure that we are listening to our customers, potential customers and industry experts. We have to find the time to listen to what people are saying about us and react appropriately.
Josh Bernoff wrote about the modern listening problem and compares it to those speaker phones where you can’t talk and listen at the same time. On those not-full-duplex speaker phones, you are either talking or listening, but not doing both at the same time. In the social media age, we need to be both listening and talking, but many people are only doing one or the other. On Twitter and other social web sites, we talk about what we are doing and listen to other people talk, and we do it simultaneously.
I tend to automate as much of my listening as I can using various monitoring tools. These are two of my favorite ways to monitor and listen to what people are saying, and we’ve covered both of them in more depth in previous blog posts.
- TweetDeck: I have several different searches that are set up in TweetDeck, and I get real-time notifications when someone mentions my name or several of the projects that I’m involved in.
- Yahoo Pipes: More sophisticated monitoring with Yahoo Pipes looks for mentions of a list of keywords across many different social media sites, blogs, Twitter and more.
Now that you can find the conversations and have started listening, the hard part begins: finding the time to respond. Depending on the volume, this could be a small task or a huge effort. I do a pretty good job of finding and listening to feedback, but when I get busy, I sometimes find it difficult to carve out the time to respond. If I respond right away, I won’t forget to respond, but responding immediately can really disrupt my work flow. If I put the responses off and do them in batches, I am probably more productive, but I run the risk of missing opportunities or forgetting to respond. The key for me is finding the right balance to respond quickly, but without disrupting my ability to be productive and efficient in my other work.
How well do you listen and respond?