Listen Up, Social Media Managers!

Deirdre Walsh
Deirdre Walsh Sr. Social Strategist, Jive Software

Posted on September 24th 2012

Listen Up, Social Media Managers!

We're all familiar with the following scenario - a customer complaining or asking a question about your company or product on Twitter.


This tweet is an opportunity.  Today's social Web provides great insight into what is being said about your organization, products, markets, and even the competition. By tracking important wikis, forums, blogs, and other Web content, you can now engage customers and prospects to quickly identify opportunities and threats, share them in real-time, and collaboratively respond.  If done correctly, you can help develop your company's brand WITH your customers.


In this case, the message is Jive listens to their customers.

In this post (part of the 7 Pillars of Social Business Success series), I will cover LISTENING. 

Your public relations team is probably doing a great job monitoring online conversations; however, much of their gathered intelligence often lives in a vacuum.  It commonly gets buried in inboxes and on servers or is shared in a silo among team members who have access to expensive social media monitoring tools.

Additionally, with the "old school" public relations model, few employees beyond marketing or support teams are even empowered to actively engage customers and help develop the corporate reputation. I see this as a problem.  As the senior social media manager at Jive, my team is responsible for listening, responding and tracking key conversations.  We need a better method than spreadsheets, emails, and standalone listening services that charged by the keyword.  We need to bridge the conversations happening inside and outside the firewall.

Utilizing a combination of Jive tools and Spredfast, I developed 6 Steps to Social Media Monitoring.

Step 1: Collect Information.  The Jive social media team acts like classic telephone operator.  We use software as well as insights from our employees to listen to key conversations in the social Web about the brand, products, markets, etc.

Step 2: Filter. Then, we apply several filters to determine if the conversation helps meet one of our core social business objectives. We determines whether these conversations can impact our goals of support, product feedback, sales, marketing, public relations, or community-building. We also evaluate the source to see if they are influential or if we have a historic relationship with them.  Finally, we looks to see if responding would be a good opportunity from an SEO standpoint.

Step 3: Engage the Subject Area Experts. If it meets one of the items on the checklist, we post a link to the “actionable conversation” directly into the employee community or branded public community with Jive Anywhere. In the communities, we can then have a detailed conversations about the best response and pull in topic experts. This step is especially important at large or complex organizations. It is impossible for one person or a team of people to be experts in each area of the business, so leveraging the employee network and branded customer community helps ensure the best response.

Step 4: Respond. Either a member of the “core response team," or a topic expert responds on the original platform and links to valuable content and resources.

Step 5: Assign Sentiment. Next, we assign the post a sentiment score.  This helps keep track of our overall brand perception on the social Web as well as helps us identify any potential crisis communications issues.  We've found that 80% of the conversation is neutral; therefore, it’s really important to take action on the outliers. Keep in mind, while sentiment is subjective and not perfect, we've developed ways to use sentiment to help track the online attitude, opinion or intended meaning of a writer and their message.

Step 6: Analyze. All of these actionable conversations are then tracked, recorded and searchable for inclusion in metric reports as well as for making business decisions about innovation, marketing messaging, prospects, support plans, etc.

It's also important to note that listening on the social Web isn’t just about being reactive.  It's great for relationship-building and competitive insights.

For example, Emilie Kopp is the internal subject area expert on robotics at National Instruments (NI).  She was listening to a blogger talk about the industry.  Although the post didn’t mention NI, she was able to add value to the conversation by linking back to her own blog and a targeted discussion space in their public community for more information.  This simple task opened up dialogue and helped her build a relationship with one of the top subject experts in the world. 

At Jive, we are also utilizing listening tools to look at competitor conversations.  We can see where they are being discussed, who their key influencers are and stay updated on their latest news all in one tool.

While 140 characters seems small, there is a huge opportunity when you listen, empower your employees and customers to respond, and utilize the insight gained to make real business decisions.

Click below to read previous posts in this series

Pillar 1: It's Time to Define the Social Business Relationship

Pillar 2: Does Your Organization Have Social DNA?



Deirdre Walsh

Deirdre Walsh

Sr. Social Strategist, Jive Software

@deirdrewalsh is an award-winning, social business program manager with a decade of digital media, integrated marketing, online community, corporate communications, and program development experience. Currently, she is the Sr. Social Strategist for Jive Software, which brings the innovation of the consumer web to the enterprise. She has been published in several outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, and has been a featured speaker at events like SXSW. In 2006, Deirdre launched the National Instruments social business program, which measurably impacted customer loyalty, marketing and product development. Prior to NI, Deirdre specialized in public relations for Hewlett-Packard, Allstate and the Texas Senate. Deirdre graduated with a bachelor of science in public relations and minors in business and English from The University of Texas.

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Posted on September 24th 2012 at 10:27PM

Hi, Deirdre:

This is a great post very rich in useful content. Thanks! But...

I couldn't help but notice the dates on the above tweets you use in your post. There's a two day difference between them. I typically get response from Customer Care or Tech Support within an hour or two from the ASP (Application Service Provider), and resolution on the issue in a day or two - or at least confirmation that the next scheduled release will include the fix or feature enhancement.

What do you consider a reasonable response time for customer care?

Keep 'em coming!


tom crawshaw
Posted on September 25th 2012 at 9:12AM

Hey Deirdre,

Thanks for a really in-depth post.  Social media have given brands an oppertunity to react in real-time to questions & queiries.

I'm always extremely impressed when I have a problem with a product or service and can tweet them on Twitter to get a prompt response, even in a different time zone!

I would like to know what sort of software you use for your social media monitoring that you mentioned in step 1.

Thanks your great content :) Your 6 steps are similar to my 6 Step to Social Media Success >>

Posted on September 26th 2012 at 3:07AM


Great post! Through the listening capabilities we have these days, there's still so much work remaining to treat each interaction as an opportunity to go above and beyond.

What's really needed here in many organizations is to clearly define the engagement tactics for each of these opportunities and then start mentioning why these opportunities are important for both short and long term benefits.


Posted on October 2nd 2012 at 7:34PM


Social Media Manager?

Why not just call it what it is, Customer Service Rep. Redefining job titles to look hip is a weakness within the industry that detracts from the true focus of jobs where the goal is to take care of the customer. Wrapping a fancy title around the tech tools de jour just makes it harder to sell to upper management and investors.

I must have missed the whole phase when "Telephony & Email Managers" were in vogue.... or the bygone era when we hired a "Words Written with Pen on Paper and Carried by a Mailman Manager."