How to listen online: get an army of ears

Get yourself more than one pair of listening ears (courtesy Tambako the Jaguar on Flickr CC)Remember that old saying (maybe from your parents) that there’s a reason you have one mouth and two ears?

It certainly applies to online communications.  Try to listen more than you talk….I know, I know, rather strange advice coming from a talker like me, right?

The first thing to do before jumping into the social Web is to listen (one of our Tourism Currents newsletters has a few tips for better Google Alerts.) Pay attention to the chatter that relates to your destination:  the tweets, the Facebook Wall posts, the blog posts, the photo uploads to Flickr, etc.  Be a “lurker” for awhile, as you might at a party with unfamiliar people.

It’s still very important to continue listening even after you’re comfortable using social media tools.  A lot of hassles and embarrassments can be forestalled by paying attention.

Here’s a tweet that I saw from a well-known tech journalist about the Outrigger Reef Hotel in Honolulu:

“No one should *ever* stay at the outrigger reef in honolulu. We’ve been cheated and abused *daily.* outrageous. Full [blog] post to come.”

When I saw that, I figured that Outrigger management (although they’re on Twitter) probably had no idea that this person was angry and was going to get vocal about it.  So, I sent a quick Twitter DM – private direct message – to a friend in Hawaii who works in tourism PR, giving him a heads up that he needed to go warn someone at the hotel just in case they’d missed the brewing storm.

Funny how that works, because here is the next tweet about the issue from the angry journalist:

“just got a nice call from the Outrigger’s GM [General Manager.] Very responsive and nice about all the problems we had. i think he really cares.”

Here’s the takeaway:  part of the listening process is having your connections out there listening, too, and making sure that important information gets to your digital ears quickly.

You need an army of listeners who care about you.  It’s called a network, and you probably already have one.

Just make sure that they have their listening ears turned on and tuned in.

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8 Responses to How to listen online: get an army of ears

  1. Great catch, Sheila! And proof that people really do need to have their listening tools in place. Even if you aren’t ready to join in the conversation, people are talking about you right now – don’t you want to know what’s being said?
    .-= Andy Hayes | Travel Online Partners´s last [post] ..What’s Your Pink Spoon? =-.

    • Yup, as soon as I saw all that starting up I thought, “How great that I know exactly who to ping about this” (and I hope someone does the same for me someday.)

      Not that, er, I EVER incite anyone’s anger….

  2. Katie Coakley says:

    Great post, Sheila, and a very concrete example of how online chatter works. That’s the hardest thing for some people, companies, etc.–they believe that if they’re not involved in social media, then no one is talking about them. It’s a “head in sand” mentality.

    Thanks for sharing and for giving me something anecdotal to take back to clients!

  3. Listening on line is important. What amazes me is the folks that feel they must have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, however, they don’t respond to any questions or comments. They treat their social media like a website. Post it and forget it.

    That was very nice of you to notify the Hawaii folks. Everyone does need a network and I’m glad you are in mine!

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Some behind-the-scenes Twitter PR damage control: Why you need an army of ears to listen online: -- Topsy.com

  5. Nathan Kam says:

    Sheila, great post and case study on how listening is important, but more so, how important it is to engage a community that can help you do it. We’re like a team out there, looking out for one another, and I think that one of the great things about social networking.
    .-= Nathan Kam´s last [post] ..Proud brother welcomes baby sister to the world =-.

  6. jessiev says:

    great post, sheila, and even MORE important for us to learn and know – from both sides of the fence. thanks!
    .-= jessiev´s last [post] ..Magical New Zealand – my top ten places on North Island =-.

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