Dec 1 2009
I can pay to listen. I can listen for free. I can “monitor,” even. I can pay others to listen for me. I can lurk. I can engage.
There have been some great posts on the tools for listening. The list for both paid tools and free tools is ever-expanding, it seems. If I want to latch onto the latest and greatest, I only have to visit Alltop or check Twitter. Recently, for instance, Crazy Egg caught my eye. How sociable? is also really interesting in that I can view my brand as “mentions” across the web. But with all the focus on listening, is there enough focus on doing something about what you are hearing?
Jason Falls took on the subject of listening, posting on “The Five Ws of Social Media Listening” in August, where he also noted a favorite of mine from Michael Brito about active listening on the social web being overrated.
It all reminds me of an old riddle I’ve loved since I first read it in a book called “Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO’s Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change” by Mark Feldman and Michael Spratt from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Five frogs are sitting on a log. Four decide to jump off. How many are left?
If you answered “1,” you aren’t listening deep enough, perhaps. The answer is “5,” since there’s a big difference between deciding and doing. I still smile almost every time I think of this little riddle because it was a particulary apt way of stating the challenges of a merger or an acquisition. There is often so much attention paid to the decision and the “doing” of the deal that the doing of the integration, etc. often goes wanting.
It’s the same with listening, whether you call it active or not. Maybe we should embrace another way to look at ”why.”
It’s called 5 Whys. It is a great process to move listening from just listening to doing something about what we hear. It’s been practiced by Jeff Bezos at Amazon, and it is a good tool for us to use in our social media listening (thanks, Pete Abilla for the Amazon example). Credited to Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota, the 5 Whys are most often seen in the context of industrial processes, but the same persistent asking of “why?” could go a long way to getting beyond the surface in social media measurement.
For example – “The car won’t start,” my (son/daughter/wife/husband) says (Wikipedia example): Why? – The battery is dead. (first why) Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why) Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why) Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and has never been replaced. (fourth why) Why? – I have not been maintaining my car according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, probably the ”root” cause)
Remind you of conversations you have had with clients or bosses? Can you think of some 5 Whys from your work in social media? Could the 5 Whys be a useful tool in getting deeper into your listening and monitoring? Would a shift to “actionable” listening be a possible outcome from using this discipline in your work? And, if we couple the Actionable with the other two “As of Metrics” that are talked about in the measurement world, we’ll make our measures Accessible and Auditable.
Some very progressive organizations might even open up the three As to the outside world, pushing ROI and transparency even farther down the path we’re on. Wouldn’t that be interesting?
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