A Christmas Card Before Thanksgiving? 3 Social Listening Questions to Think Through

Sandy Carter General Manager Ecosystem Development and Social Business Evangelist, IBM

Posted on November 23rd 2012

A Christmas Card Before Thanksgiving?  3 Social Listening Questions to Think Through


OK, I love my holidays!   All of them and we celebrate and decorate for all of them at my house.   My kids love the energy and excitement and learning about each.

But this weekend, I received my first Christmas card.   While I LOVE getting Christmas cards, this one came before Thanksgiving.   A bit out of order for my tastes!  By the way,  my friend isn’t the only one out of order!   Every store I have been in is already playing Christmas music!

Social Listening before Social Action!

Well, in social, many companies do the same  as my friend did —  Go out of order — they develop a strategy to “place” information into the blogosphere before they listen      In any relationship, listening should proceed talking!    So that are the best listen first.  

Leading organizations are using social business technology to positively disrupt their industries and create competitive advantage and they begin by understanding the thoughts that their clients, employees, and influencers say about them. Organizations are now moving from “liking” – simply using social technology for basic communication, to leading – where they are applying social listening tools and culture to fundamentally change their core business processes, leading to positive disruption within their organizations and their industries.   These organizations know that listening is a key first step!

Why Social Listening is so important

We all see that there is an unprecedented amount of data being gathered at every meaningful touchpoint about each customer. The best brands among us are very strategic about which touchpoints get instrumented, and what kind of data emerges as the result—not just from the touchpoints under the marketing function’s control, but all touchpoints the company has.

Question to ask: what is our instrumentation strategy on social listening?

 The most skilled companies are combining social data, other Web-based data and transaction data—and running precise analytics over them to gain new kinds of insights. In this world, the path to success is largely dependent on having comprehensive access to the data you need to formulate these insights, and strategies to discern the veracity of that data.

Question to ask: what is our strategy for attracting data? 

Armed with that strategy, we will be able to see a time when our understanding becomes predictive. What is the customer’s next likely move—so we can appropriately pair our response with the next best offer, next best action, next need.

Question to ask: how predictive must our insights about customers be to succeed in our competitive market?

I believe that these 3 questions are crucial to execute a successful Social strategy!  They begin with understanding through listening.  Doing things in the right order!


Sandy Carter

General Manager Ecosystem Development and Social Business Evangelist, IBM

Sandy Carter is responsible for IBM’s worldwide focus on building ecosystems around core growth areas: Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data and Analytics.   The ecosystem, which includes partners, developers, ISVs, entrepreneurs, influencers, academics and venture capitalists, drives approximately one-third of IBM’s revenue and is a critical element in IBM's overall strategy.  She is also responsible for the award-winning Global Entrepreneur Program which has delivered over 2,000 mentors to help startups and entrepreneurs expand and grow.   

Previously, Sandy was IBM Vice President, Social Business Evangelism and Sales, responsible for setting the direction for IBM’s Social Business initiative, a $200B market opportunity.  A recognized leader in social business, Sandy is an award-winning author of 3 books, including best-selling “Get Bold”, which has been translated into 9 languages.  She was recently named to Forbes Global Top 40 in Marketing and received the Professional Business Women of California (PBWC) Industry Leaders Award, and was named one of the Top 20 Influencers by theCUBE.  A recognized thought leader on Social Media, she’s been named Top 10 in Social Media, Top 50 in Social Business Influencers, and one of the "Ten Most Powerful Women in Tech”.   

Sandy is passionate about women's leadership.  A Founding member of WITI (Women in Technology International), and a member of the WITI Executive Advisory Council, she is the Founder of IBM’s Super Women Group, a community of over 20,000 women worldwide.  She is a member of the American Management Association (AMA) and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Inner Circle.

A graduate of Duke University and Harvard Business School, Sandy has been listed among the 50 most notable people on the Duke University website.


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Kent Ong
Posted on November 26th 2012 at 11:16AM

According to best selling book Groundswell, social listening is the 1st step to understand what consumers. With Big Data, it is even more important to analyze the right data for companies to target the right market.

Posted on November 26th 2012 at 2:23PM

Completely agree.   Listening has to be a stable for all compaies in Social!.  Sandy