In the realm of social media, the word 'listening' surfaces frequently. Thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, companies have an ability to listen to what consumers are saying about them in ways never before possible.
But when it comes to social media marketing, many businesses pay lip service to listening and instead focus their actions on words like 'conversation' and 'engagement', which are more exciting.
One global brand, however, is working to ensure that social media activities don't exclude the passive act of listening, and it's doing it in a big way.
In New York City, there’s only one issue that divides neighbors, drinking buddies and childhood friends alike. It’s not about the Mets and their playoffs blunders; nor is it about the Yankees and their ageing captain, Derek Jeter.
It runs much deeper, and strikes the very core of New York City life. It’s about pizza.
The data collected on Twitter may create interesting new opportunities for search engines, and that's why the major search engines, including Google, Yahoo and Bing, have done deals to gain access to Twitter's firehose.
But applying Twitter data to search in a meaningful way has proven to be a bit tough. Although there's the potential to use Twitter data as a signal for traditional SERPs, or to display 'real-time' results within the SERPS, search engines are also interested in providing consumers with search experiences explicitly built around real-time information.
Are we on the verge of seeing a rebellion? As we know more and more people are adopting various elements of the social web as part of their daily lives.
The Twitterati is no longer just made up of social media geeks and gurus and celebrities; many other "normal" people are now joining the ranks, some of whom may not be considered social media "savvy".
They may not realise that their tweets and conversations, aimed at their friends and followers, a limited circle of people, are being picked up by all the social media monitoring tools. In simple terms they may not know that their conversations are being listened to. In fact, some people may even be appalled by this.
Imagine, if every conversation in a pub, coffee shop, meeting etc. could be monitored and then filtered to specific brand conversation and sentiment relevant to you, would you use this technology to improve your offering? Probably not. I think the outcome will result in three things, for the betterment of brand and consumer interaction.
Social marketing, Web 2.0 - whatever you call it, proponents and gurus of the forms on online marketing that involve consumer-generated media and user participation constantly stress the conversational aspects of marketing in Web 2.0 channels. Some have gone so far as to dub this "conversational marketing."
All those drop-what-you're-doing news bulletins that begin, "The blogosphere is buzzing about..." are so 2005. The latest channel to attract attention is the first one that's literally a conversation: Twitter.
Slews of marketers are jumping into Twitter with both feet to participate: to show off domain knowledge, create promotions on-the-fly, to publicize upcoming events and sales - the possibilities are endless.
But what very few marketers, advertisers and brands are listening to Twitter - they're reiterating the same mistakes they made at the very beginning of Web 2.0.