Hey, Shut Up and Listen...Please

John Moore

I attended a very good webinar recently, led by Amber Naslund at Radian6, on listening and engaging with social media. The conversation was timely in light of the recent statistics I saw, and blogged about, on how CIOs are erecting walls around their businesses.

While Amber covered a lot of ground the one topic I wanted to build on was the simple act of passive listening. Let me remind of you something, I am a geek. I am a CTO and SVP of Engineering and have run Engineering, IT, and Support organizations. I understand security risks and also understand the benefits of being social. Passive listening is a safe starting point that balances the benefits of being social with the risk of drilling holes into those corporate walls.

Passive listening is also relevant to any business in any industry across any geography. The benefit of passive listening is that you do not need to be outgoing, nor do you have to spend hours analyzing data. Dip your toes into the social waters as little, or as much, as time permits.

Building off of the points made in the webinar, I would recommend that every business invest at least one hour a week passively listening/monitoring for information on your company, the competition, your industry. Plenty of people have given advice on where to start and how to start, so I won’t attempt at compiling a comprehensive list. However, here’s what I do when I have very little time:

Scan my RSS feeds in Google Reader.

Monitor what is happening with all of my contacts using Gist.

Yes, there are many other things you can do but the benefit of targeted RSS feeds (in Google Reader) and following up on key companies and people (in Gist) get me the most important data with the least investment.

Hey, it works for me, it might even work for you.

What do you think? How do you passively listen to your customers today?