Random thoughts on “listening” and “hearing”

I just re-read an excellent post by Jeremiah Owyang, Partner, Customer Strategy, Altimeter Group. Jeremiah used to work for Forrester Research and just recently joined Altimeter.

There are a couple of quotes that got me going:

Beyond monitoring, insight from the social sphere is untapped. Social media monitoring is just the first baby step, most companies haven’t tapped into what the data actually means.

We all, more or less, know what monitoring is. Here is an example of a definition that come reasonably close to the marketing context once you replace the word “enemy” with something more appropriate, like “customer” or “consumer”, depending on the group one monitors.

The act of listening, carrying out surveillance on, and/or recording of enemy emissions for intelligence purposes.

So presumably obtaining “the insight” and/or “intelligence” is the purpose of the exercise. The most interesting question for me is – what are we going to do with this precious intelligence when we get it?

The second quote from this post, used here out of sequence, is

… marketers were used to ‘Bowling’, where marketers could easily throw a message down the aisle and hit the pins with great confidence. Now, he eloquently describes, it was more like ‘Pinball’ where a marketer could load the message up, shoot it out, but have no idea where it will end up.

It seems to me that despite all the talk by the “enlightened” marketers, by “listening” they still try to figure how to control the flow of messaging, rather than to “hear” and engage into conversation. “Listening” without a deep desire to “hear” cannot yield any insight or “Aha!” moments, and these are the ones that lead to meaningful and measurable actions. No wonder there is so much yearning for a magic ROI formula for Social Media investments. It is very difficult to figure a return on knowledge you didn’t bother to learn yet.

Learning is not compulsory. Neither is survival.

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