Listening is the New Black

Chris Brogan’s 3 Social Media Tips for Direct Marketers

Listening is the new black according to social media guru Chris Brogan speaking at DMA:2010. Translation: Grow big ears. This means marketers must pay attention and monitor what’s being said on the social web because it’s more than idle chatter.

For numbers-oriented direct marketers, think about how to apply social media metrics to the online conversation and convert it into information assets that map to specific elements of your overall business strategy. Use this data and related insights to engage your customers and show them that you’re really listening. In light of this intelligence, does your brand, marketing and/or customer service need to be modified?

Direct marketers traditionally focus on the purchase process immediately leading up to the sale. But in today’s social media connected world, it’s critical to pay attention to what’s happening earlier in pre-decision phase including need initiation and option consideration. In plain English, this translates into listening and engaging with prospects and customers when they first experess their needs publically. For example, social media savvy users like Chris Brogan and BL Ochman use tools such as Twitter to ask friends and followers for advice on products like video cameras and services like hotels. Where’s the cool hotel to stay at in New York City for the social media in-crowd? The answer is the boutique Roger Smith Hotel that offers bloggers a discount.

How do you apply this idea to your business? Here are three pieces of advice that Chris shared.

  1. What’s your firm differentiator? In other words, what do you do better than your competitors? Chris’s example was a local appliance store that was great at installing air conditioners. Therefore, they created videos to spotlight their work and posted them on YouTube and their blog. Why do customers choose you? What makes your firm stand out?
  2. Have you laid the groundwork for your social media and marketing? Marketers, like farmers, need good soil in order for stuff to grow (To understand this analogy, please read Jay Baer’s post on Convince and Convert.) In my opinion, marketing and social media starts with strong products. Once you have something of quality to offer, make it easy for prospects, customers and the public to tell others about your products and your company. Remember you’re appealing to bulk of visitors who lurk. For example, in addition to customer reviews, Zappos includes buttons to share on Facebook on every item. Chris talked about outposts and home bases, namely your blog and your website. His recommendation was to put intriguing content on other people’s sites and while keeping the meaty stuff on your own home bases. He used analogy of not leaving an oriental rug in a hotel. Which content are you putting on your different platforms, both third party and own media sites? Have you made your products and content easily sharable?
  3. Are you present where your customers are? Think beyond Facebook and Twitter. Chris gave the example that his newsletter distributed to 7,000 people was most shared on LinkedIn. This makes sense since he’s giving business advice and readers use it to show that they’re in the know to their colleagues. Note: Don’t overlook email as a content distribution conduit. According to Chris, 93% of people opt-in via email, 15% opt-in via Facebook and 4% opt-in via Twitter. Which social media platforms are your customers using? How are your prospects and customers consuming and sharing your content? Do you have the right content or offers as bait?

As a marketer, the big take away is that you need to listen to what your market is talking about and influence the conversation as it relates to your offering. It’s critical to ensure that you’re present when customers start to think about needing your products.

Happy marketing,

Heidi Cohen


Photo credit: Heidi Cohen

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