Joe McKendrick commented on the FastForward blog on a post by Irina Slutsky of Advertising Age, 'Chief Listeners' Use Technology to Track, Sort Company Mentions. Irina profiles two Chief Listening Officers, Beth LaPierre at Kodak, and Susan Beebe at Dell. Beth is charged with sifting through 300,000 new mentions of Kodak a month. Susan performs a similar job of “broad listening” to Dell customers and consumers, and “giving all the intelligence to her Dell colleagues internally.” Irina reports that both Susan and Beth said their companies are driving innovation through customer feedback.
Susan says that there is a data-analysis research role to this job and she develops some complex queries to filter through the many mentions of Dell. Joe supports this activity but wonders if in a “era when markets and workplaces are conversations, every manager should be a chief listening officer.” Comprehensive listening is a role that Darwin’s Awareness Engine™ is designed to support. With the simplicity of its interface and the ability to quickly scan the context and relationships between themes emerging around topics of interest, it is also designed for the average business user and does not require technical expertise in devising complex queries.
Regardless of the title, there is strong listening component to any social media activities and those responsible for them need to monitor what is being said about their companies to understand the context and issues prior to starting social media activities. They also need to be able to monitor the impact of their efforts. Rob Paterson recently wrote about two such innovators, Baochi Nguyen at Boingo and Jordan Miller at Kotex.
Boingo supplies wifi to business travelers in many locations and Baochi Nguyen manages the Social Media Program. Rob writes that at Boingo, social media is not an add on, but is core to the firm’s philosophy. Like her counter parts at Dell and Kodak, Baochi main role is to listen rather than to market or sell and compares the role to a navigator on a ship. Senior management is actively involved and helped set the framework for her activities. This involvement is critical for the program’s success. Baochi also has great freedom to operate within this framework, another success factor. Rob said he first learned about Boingo’s social media efforts as a customer and enjoyed their rapid help through Twitter.
Jordan Miller leads the new Kotex social media campaign that is built around listening and engagement. She builds trust with Kotex followers through active listening and focused responses. The Kotex campaign is built around issues that interest their customers rather than promoting the features of their product. She is allowed to be edgy and develop a personal voice that is appreciated by her followers. Jordan and Kotex are now connected to a community of 1.4 million women who have found something important to them in the conversation. This is a great foundation for continued growth. Again listening and understanding the important themes within a large conversation will be a key success factor.