Got Social Issues? Why “Social Listening” is The Wrong Response (And What the Right One Is)

The popularity of social media has literally leveled the playing field online—giving every person on the planet the same sized megaphone to voice not only their excitement about companies and brands, but also—and perhaps most frighteningly—their anger and rage.

So the question for you is: When Twitter or Facebook blow up on you, do you know how to respond?

A typical reaction might be to:

  • Respond to comments—or delete them
  • Turn on a search marketing program to intercept negative messaging
  • Post a statement or a press release

But the very first thing we think you should do whenever an issue emerges is ask yourself this: How meaningfully tuned-in are you into the (un-owned) conversations happening around your brand; literally those conversations you DO NOT own?

Why? Because the answers to the questions of—how embedded you are in those daily conversations happening around your brand online (click to tweet)—how well you know all the players in those conversations—how quickly you’re able to pick up on the twists and turns of those conversations—will determine just how effective you’ll be in forecasting, managing and preventing any social issues that may arise for you on the web and beyond. Not to mention that these are the same conversations that the reporters and media who are covering you are looking at day-in, day-out.

So how do you do that? Not simply through just social listening—but through social understanding, by becoming socially embedded in a very meaningful way.

Getting to a place where you’re living and breathing the conversations around you, embedded in them and intimately aware of their nuances, will help you become aware of any issues before they arise, understand exactly what you need to do when they do, and be better positioned to actually remedy whatever root cause lies beneath them.

And when you achieve that, the actions you take might look considerably different:

  • One-to-one engagement or response on Twitter or Facebook
  • The creation of on-the-fly social or web content to respond to or balance the information that’s coming at you
  • Highly targeted and nuanced paid social campaigns that reach your most appropriate and responsive audiences
  • Social conversation trend audits that lead to new visual content, a refined online voice, or more…

Through Storyworks.issues (one facet of StoryWorks, our global storytelling platform), we help brands do more than just get out of a problem, we help you get embedded into your community so that you can both manage social issues that come your way, but also see them coming and be prepared in advance.

Named a top 25 communications innovator in North America. An EVP who co-leads Ketchum’s DE&I specialty. Strategic counselor, problem solver and fixer of reputations for some of the world’s largest and most innovative Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations and governmental institutions. Senior political and policy advisor at New York City Hall. A 15+ year veteran social/digital storyteller. Passionate husband, father and criminal justice reform advocate.