The Ability to Listen

Social media is providing a unique aspect that was never available before, the ability to listen and respond to consumer demands in real time. Before the social media, and the internet, companies would conduct length surveys, focus groups, observe consumers if possible, or simply guess what is working or not working. Today with every connected individual having a voice on the internet a company only has to tap into the thousands of conversations going on about them to learn a wealth of knowledge and apply it to their business. Today a well plugged in company can talk to thousands of people at once and hear them all.

The ability to listen to your consumers also gives you the ability to properly respond, and respond in manner that invites dialogue and furthers your relationship. A company should not be tethered to old concepts of press releases and top down push communication concept. Through understanding what a consumer is looking for a company can respond with a human voice. The issue often becomes, how does a company interact on a personal level? What tone should a company adapt when it communicates? The answers to this depends on the goal of the company and those in charge of the communication. The formality of the tone, language used, and frequency of conversation can be a delicate balance.

The conversations happening on social media have a much wider application than simply having the ability to interact with consumers. Victoria Edwards of Social Engine Watch briefly outlines all the applications that social media monitoring can bring to a company. The marketing and public relations aspect is probably the most visible application but product validation is an essential possibility. A company can identify, troubleshoot, and change its product based on reviews and feedback. We should no longer have to wait months for market research to return to identify a problem with a product that has been costing sales, the consumer will let us know what he/she is unsatisfied with and how he would improve his/hers experience.

Just like keeping track of your own product, social media provides companies the opportunity to actively find and validate new hires. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn are continually changing the way companies hire. A few years ago a paper resume was king, but the today a resume takes on a whole new aspect. Social media platforms such as the prominent LinkedIn allow anyone to codify their entire lifes experience, share their interests, create content and attract employers. A potential employee is no longer restricted to a few pages of carefully worded and at times self-inflating resume. The employer can validate the experiences and abilities of an employee through social media, and not just LinkedIn or similar professional social media platform. Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide a glimpse of you through pictures, comments, and your own updates.

The amount of available information can seem intimidating. There is a large amount of data and noise that is irrelevant to the tasks at hand. What is a good way to filter through it? If you figure it out let me know, I am trying to figure it out myself. There are a number of free and pay tools out there that help with streamlining and automatically parsing conversation on the internet. What is important is identifying what you are trying to accomplish with social media and then listening for the answer. Keep focused on your questions and set up a standard for tracking what you have learned. There is simply too much out there to keep track of it all.


A Little Bit About Me

wedding pictureIf you don’t know already my name is Janis Butkevics. I was born in Riga, Latvia, a small country in North East Europe. I was actually born during the last few years of the Soviet Union but I really don’t remember much of those times. I moved to the United States just as I was turning 12 and settled in Brookline, MA, right on the border of Brookline and Boston, five minutes away from Fenway Park. Since then I have lived in a number of places but Boston remains, in my opinion, the greatest city in the US.

After high school, with some protest of my supportive family, I went and joined the US Army. Ever since then my life has been a series of adventures and enterprises. I have worked in several positions and jobs within the Army and currently work within Information Support. While in service I managed to complete my Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing. While studying I became keenly interested in everything communication and marketing related and after some time narrowed down my fascination to social media. This was not something set on by a specific course or experience but rather an accumulation over time. I saw the rapid spread of the internet, social media, and connected devices as a change in the way we live and communicate.

As luck would have it I have had the chance to work with social media and social media analysis over the last few years within the Army as learn from other government agencies. This has been a tremendous learning experience that has so far taught me that I know very little about social media. As I had been looking for Masters programs to apply to a co-worker e-mailed me the University of Florida’s Master of Arts in Mass Communication – Social Media brochure, another lucky occurrence (or manifest destiny?). After a month of feverishly studying for the GRE and another few weeks of sleepless nights waiting for an answer I was accepted into the program.

The more I learn about social media, the more opportunities and issues I see. To me, its seems that social media will play an increasing role not just in marketing and public relations but will continue to change how we communicate, absorb news, collaborate, and even remember events. Considering that Facebook now stacks your life neatly in a timeline remembering things is a just a few clicks away and you can browse your entire life through your own comments and your friends tags of you. Through the courses and programs I hope to learn something that I can immediately apply to work now. There are plenty of rumors and ideas when it comes to social media, but few people have studied social media from an academic perspective. The program will also will assist me in the long term. Military service is not a life long career and it would be prudent to look further into the future. I am confident (very confident) that the internet and social media will continue to grow and hopefully provide me with a job that I enjoy doing.