All companies need to stay on top of what’s being said about them and their products. Even if you’re not blogging, you need to monitor and respond to what’s happening on the Web.
First presentation is from Evelyn Rodriguez whose central focus is on why a company should be listening to the conversation. (Slides of her presentation are here in .pdf form.) Recent experiences of Dell and Kryptonite show the importance of listenting to what customers are saying about your company and its products. Evelyn stressed that it’s crucial to go from monitoring to listening. Much of the attitude of the blogosphere comes from the Cluetrain Manifesto and the declaration that “markets are conversations.”
A powerful global conversation has begun. Through the Internet, people are discovering and inventing new ways to share relevant knowledge with blinding speed. As a direct result, markets are getting smarter-and getting smarter faster than most companies.
Evelyn says that blogs harken back to era of town squares and locations where “everyone knows your name,” and:
"There is a difference between a public marketplace and a shopping mall — a difference in how the marketplace functions as a social setting meeting the human need to be with others."?? — Pike Place Market Heritage Center
There is a difference between monitoring and listening. Monitoring is only an apt metaphor if your mantra is that business is war. But listenning connotes the more human side of interaction. This distinction is important. A mention of your company on a blog is a direct communication between that person and you. It’s important to respond when people address you directly. Many businesses assume that a blog-spurred controversy will blow over, but Dell and Kryptonite have shown this attitude to be perilous.
So how does a company measure influence in the blogosphere? It goes beyond Technorati and PubSub. It’s important to make a map of your core marketplace and notice what people are saying about the ideas behind yuor company. They may not be addressing you directly, but pay attention to the conversations around and about your general area. Respond to those issues on a company blog to engage the conversation.
Social dynamics take a 14mm marketplace and reduce it to a very small world. The blogosphere centers around gossip and one-off comments. The upshot is that you really do need to listen to “one measily blogger.” When people take the time to write a public letter to Michael Dell is going to be heard.
Companies need to be proactive listening to what’s being said about them, rather than focus on being reactive listening. Even if you try to separate yourself from the marketplace and stand outside it, people int he marketplace may still talk about you, and entering the marketplace once in a while to make a pronouncement and then leave is going to leave you in a bad position.
The blogosphere isn’t anti-business; it’s against the depersonalizatoin of commerce. The role of the evangelist is to make a connection with a human being.